Fear The Niggle

Niggle. Such an innocent little word. Quaint. Cute. Inoffensive. It’s been in my head of late as I’ve had a few injuries this week which have curtailed my running. A twinge here, a strain there. Nothing in themselves but just enough to keep me off the roads. Niggly injuries. They’re not causing me any great pain, I don’t need to be rushed to A&E. They’re just there. Doing enough to be noticed, and little else. Niggling me.

Niggles are a blessing and a curse to runners. Don’t worry, this post isn’t all about running. Bear with me, I’ll be finished in a paragraph. Two at the most. They frustrate and hinder you, but they also act as red flags, a warning sign to slow down and take some time off. For if you ignore a niggle and keep running then snap….scrunch….squeal. The situation becomes a whole lot messier and you do find yourself in the back of a speeding ambulance.

I embrace my niggles then. The physical ones at least. But what about the niggles of the mind. Those unwanted, obtrusive thoughts that pick and poke at you, demanding your undivided attention. They start as the tiniest seed, lodged in the corner of your psyche. They are minimal, minuscule, much a do about nothing. You ignore them for so long, they have no hold over you. The battle has been won and they are the vanquished. Right?

Niggles love playing the underdog. They thrive on licking their wounds in the corner. Their days of lauding over your every waking moment are a distant memory. They cannot harm you. But try as you might you can’t completely dislodge them. That’s the strength of the niggle. It’s perseverance, stayability, I’m not going away and there’s nothing you can do about it. I’m dead, I’m buried, I’m sprawling on the canvas. But I’m still there.

They love complacency and they never rest, forever probing, testing, seeking out that one chink in your otherwise impenetrable armour. When they find it, they slither inside like a venomous viper, before sinking dripping fangs into exposed flesh. Then slither off again as the poison surges through your system, spreading it’s toxins at a rate you cannot repel. Niggles are nasty. Once they are within, they will not relent until you bend the knee to them.

Niggles are for life. Imagine a radio turned up full blast. It’s at 10. You take the pills, read the literature, talk to the right people and, in time, it’s a 7, a 4, a 1. You can think again, live again without the deafening, all consuming background noise of the obtrusive thought and it’s accompanying compulsions. OCD is the Crown Prince and it’s army of niggles assail your defences tirelessly. They do not sleep.

I wrestle these niggles every day. Most times, I have the upper hand, but now and again they threaten to overwhelm me. I educate, medicate and mediate. I flirt with the OCD community, like a child holding its hand over an open flame. Afraid to spend too much time there in case the heat becomes too much and my soul is singed. Fire purges, it cauterises, but it can also burn to the bone. It is a double edged sword.

I turn my back on the niggle. I look away, using the same coping mechanisms and strategies which have served me so well these last years. I walk the streets and wonder at the faces I see. Calm, composed, seemingly in control. But what lies behind the mask? Is all as tranquil as it seems? Or has the niggle taken hold, dragging them screaming in silence towards fresh, unvisited hells? I wonder as I walk. I fear these places.

Do you have unwanted, obtrusive thoughts?

Are you anxious, worried, depressed?

Do you fear the niggle?

Published by Fractured Faith Blog

We are Stephen and Fionnuala and this is our story. We live in Northern Ireland, have been married for 17 years and have three kids - Adam, Hannah and Rebecca. We hope that our story will inspire and encourage others. We have walked a rocky road yet here we are today, together and stronger than ever. We are far from perfect and our faith has been battered and bruised. But an untested faith is a pointless faith. Just as a fractured faith is better than none at all. We hope you enjoy the blog.

53 thoughts on “Fear The Niggle

  1. Oh those niggles. Some days I am amazed at how well I’ve done being stronger than them. Other days, it’s calls to my Sponser, accountability partner, and EMDR techniques I learned in therapy. (I struggle with Co-dependency and Complex PTSD)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think most people wrestle with niggling thoughts – some are welcome like a soft insistent voice warning of dire consequences should you ignore it. and then there are the others that would drag you under, if they could – the little demons that haunt our days and nights and make life so difficult, until somehow, some way we manage to banish them for a bit. But the resurrection is almost inevitable or so it would seem.

    Personally, for me, prayer is the answer. Letting it go and leaving it in the hands of a much higher power than I possess as a mere mortal helps me tremendously. But it isn’t easy to let go of control (or what we think we can control). Aw, life, it’s such a blessing, and a challenge too.


  3. I refer to the niggles as my subroutine – always running, usually in the background, looking for an opening to come in and crash the whole system. Anxiety, depression, fear – they all feed that niggle. “You’re too old to do this. This person only likes you for that. You’re a millstone around his neck.” Yes, that last one was actually said to me by my ex…

    Once I’m aware that those gremlins are coming out to play, I deploy the medications, the logical and pragmatic aspects of a situation, I write, and I bounce ideas off of friends. Usually, the places things back to where they belong. Being Bi-Polar also means that I have to stick to my sleep schedule so I don’t throw my Circadian rhythm into chaos, which feeds the gremlins, who loosen the niggles… you get the idea. I don’t fear them, but I do keep an eye out for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve never heard this word. I think everyone has them and we hide them. But we should find someone to talk with about them so they don’t manifest as road rage or other negatives.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Excellent post!! My little niggles most often come in the shape of cravings for alcohol. Thankfully, since I’ve been able to hold on to sobriety for a couple of 24 hours now, those are mostly gone; however, they do slink in now and again. My first line of defense: my stash of ghiardelli chocolate squares and fun dips! Lol!
    It’s not just pleasurable to nibble the niggles away, but since they don’t come around as much, it’s a lovely treat that I literally savor bite by bite.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ‘Niggles’ is a great concept. These are the lies I hear at the back of my mind remembering the past. Sometimes the Niggles keep me from moving forward. This is why I run – to clear my head and keep my mental health in a good place so the niggles can’t take root! Thank you for your thoughts. Much to meditate on.


  7. I had to look up the word niggles. Interesting term. Not sure if it is a niggle or not, but I have a negative voice within me that reminds me now and again all the bad things about me. I am fat. Unattractive. Stupid. Unworthy. All of those and more. I quiet these negativities and I even think they are gone, but, as you pointed out, it doesn’t go away. It is quiet. It hides. But there are times it roars in my head. Without prayer…without grace and peace and love…I would be dead from that voice. Thankful to God and Lord Jesus eternally for saving me from myself and staying by me, guiding me and protecting me and lifting me out of my pit when I fall back into it!!


  8. We are the amalgam of everything we’ve experienced or thought. Niggles are just another thing that never goes away, although we can be blessed (or cursed) with the ability to forget for a time.
    Thanx for the post!


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