Published in Personal / Mental Health - 3 mins to read

A lot of people use the phrase “obsessive personality”, and I’m not sure whether that’s actually a legitimate psychological phenomenon, but either way I think I have one. I get stuck on things - like really, really stuck. I can’t move past them not for weeks, but for months or years. I get obsessed with hobbies, methods of self-improvement, cultural rabbit holes, philosophies and even people. Once I’m obsessed, I can’t get myself unstuck, and that’s a problem. Sometimes I realise that something is taking up far too much of my (mental) time and energy, that my relationship with it isn’t healthy, that it has simply outlasted its purpose in my life. I assume that when most people reach this point, they make an effort to divert their attention towards something new or different, and after an appropriate length of time, their original obsession fades. I try really hard to do this, however I just… can’t?

Which is, uhh, real frustrating. I don’t really know why I’m like this. Someone I know with mental health issues worse than mine once described to me feeling like exhibiting these kinds of thoughts and behaviours was akin to having an out-of-body experience; they were observing themselves doing whatever it was they knew was harmful, but were completely powerless to actually stop themselves doing it (maybe the illusion of powerlessness is just a psychological self defense mechanism but I can’t be bothered with psychoanalysis today). This kind of obsessive, “stuck” pattern is one of the fortunately small number of ways in which I feel out of touch with reality sometimes. How I feel doesn’t seem proportional to my situation at all, and I don’t feel in control of my emotions at all - I feel helpless at the whim of my subconscious or my off-kilter brain chemistry or ingrained behaviours or whatever the root cause of mental illness might be. It also sometimes makes me feel like I am “broken”, like there is something wrong with me on a fundamental, unfixable level. Maybe that’s melodramatic, but really, what is depression without melodrama?

Despite doing very well recently, and being “happy” overall, I have still had quite a few of these obsessive thoughts this week, and their persistence has got me down at times. I don’t really know what to do about them, seeing as my current strategy of deliberately focusing on something else isn’t bearing fruit. One of the valuable lessons I learned from my last course of therapy was the power of self-education with regards to one’s own mental health; if you don’t know why you’re feeling something or how to control it, set out to learn as much as you can about that feeling, why others feel it, and how they control it. So that’s my plan for the weekend; try and learn how other people become unobsessed with things.