The Mind of the Overthinker

You know how sometimes you’ll be talking to a friend (or even an acquaintance) and he/she suddenly pulls a random topic out of the air? Switches on you when you had no realization that you were actually finished discussing the previous topic? The change is usually accompanied by something along the lines of, “I don’t even know what made me think of this, but … ”

I do this all of the time. I won’t say literally, even though that’s kind of the “it” word these days — after all, most of the time I stay on track pretty well. But I can safely say that I literally always know what made me think of it. I just don’t want to share the thought process.

Because the thought process goes something a whole lot like this:

“I’m making a salad that has apples in it. Our apples are really flavorless. Kate told me apples are out of season, so that’s probably why. I hope Kate doesn’t think I’m lame for eating out-of-season produce. She eats awesome produce. She made kale-potato cakes the other night. I wonder if she’s ever had kale chips. I should ask her if she’s ever had kale chips. She went to this awesome restaurant the other night with her boyfriend. They had delicious food. I wonder when they’re going back next. I should peruse the menu to see what I would order if I ever went. I wish I lived nearer to her so we could actually hang out on a regular basis. When I move to Portland, eventually, I’m going to have lots of friends to hang out with. I am really excited for my upcoming high school reunion. I wish I could have lost more weight. I need to exercise more. Pinterest.”

I also spend a lot of time dwelling. Shadra always tells me to not worry, or to spend my time thinking about something else, but she full well knows that there’s literally nothing she can ever tell me that will actually make me stop worrying. That’s a literally I can stand behind. Case in point: several years ago I attended a holiday party with my parents, and they had this guessing game in which you wrote down your dream present and everyone guessed to whom it might belong. I wrote down shiatsu knives.

Shiatsu. Knives.

For total clarification, those are two totally unrelated things. Shiatsu is a type of massage, and I was actually thinking about santoku knives when I wrote my answer. I still worry, from time to time, whether anyone from that party remembers my faux pas and whether any of them still think I am a total and utter moron. They’ve got good evidence.

“Oh, look, she got her santoku.”

Until all the party-goers die, I’ll worry about how that experience made me look.

Before you get really concerned about me: I realize no one really cares. I’m 99.9% certain they’ve all forgotten about it. In fact, it could be argued that I’ve made things worse by bringing it up for them to potentially read, provided they stumble upon this blog post.

Oh, great: one more thing for me to worry about.

Case in point number two: the unresponsive friend. This will eternally be the bane of my existence. And Facebook has made things even worse by informing me when any of my messages have been “seen” by the recipient. Fact: there is no way Facebook could possibly know such a thing, unless all computers mass produced since the beginning of computing time were actually installed with eyeball scanners. And since I think we can all agree that probably hasn’t happened, I think we can also all agree that Facebook is just ruining our lives, one update at a time. 

Image courtesy of latimes.com

I laid my soul out for a Facebook friend recently, who is probably very busy or consumed with…quite possibly anything and simply hasn’t had the time to respond, but Facebook told me he saw the message last night around 7:15 pm, and I might die any day now without a response. The upside? I am no longer 13-years-old and don’t feel the need to perpetually send more messages till I hear back. If there’s one thing time teaches you, it’s that you can, in fact, suffer in silence.

An Important Fact I’ve Been Leaving Out: I have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (most commonly known as OCD.) Those three little letters probably bring to mind:

Image courtesy of wereviewfilm.blogspot.com

or

Image courtesy of divinefollies.wordpress.com

or

Image courtesy of imdb.com – I don’t usually care for spoofs on OCD, but Tony Shalhoub, you get an eternal pass.

and I get that. It’s Hollywood’s way of trying to stop making OCD obsessive and make it awesome instead. True story. In my case, however, OCD looks more like this:

Whoops. Wrong picture. That one gives does NOT help my case.

Better.

I’ve alluded to this in another post, but here it is — all out on the table. I’m mentally disordered and awesome. Mostly awesome. I often feel as though I have all the benefits of OCD and just a few of the drawbacks. This one time, my boss stood next to my desk, dumbfounded, till he finally admitted he simply could not believe how much more organized my desk was than his. (I should interject here, before my parents and Husband fall off their chairs, with peals of laughter, that the office organization basically…stops in the office.) And I am remarkably efficient; to the tune of being let go in my previous position because I got all the work I was hired to do completely finished. You can determine whether or not the efficiency really played in my favor. I’m still trying to determine that myself. Defense calls to the stand how the office was shut down by the police one day after my last, so it was probably for the best. Yeah, I know, way too many lawyer shows this week.

I don’t wash my hands incessantly, I don’t turn the lights on and off repeatedly, and I don’t sit at work, worrying that the oven might be on (on the contrary, Husband has often found the stovetop still on, hours after we finished dinner.) And, seriously, I will cut the mold off food and eat it anyhow. Most of the time.

As for the drawbacks, well, in the last year or so I suddenly determined I hated my eyes and my eyebrows, and have wished them gone ever since. I don’t do anything particularly weird besides wiggle my eyebrows and blink a lot (Richard Gere style), but I think we can all agree that’s pretty weird. Mostly awesome. Also there’s, you know, the worrying thing.

You’ll find books out there, written by OCD-sufferers — memoirs about how they suffered through life till they finally figured out how to not suffer any longer. But I think we can all agree that we all have more than enough reason to write memoirs about how we suffered through life for a plethora of reasons. [Also, if you want to write said book, visit http://shadrab.com for editing tips or to hire YOUR VERY OWN PERSONAL EDITOR. You’re welcome.] I don’t mean to make a mockery of OCD — that’s counterproductive — but you’ve probably mostly been exposed to the depressing or ridiculous. And sometimes it’s about as hilariously normal as anything else with low points and sometimes even high ones.

Low point: total hysteria over heights during a high school choral academy that resulted in my being led from the 2nd balcony to the mezzanine, hand-held, by the director, tears streaming down my face. High point: Books on shelf in order by author’s last name and separated by fiction and non. I get stuff done, people.

And, luckily for me (and Husband and parents and friends, mostly Shadra, who apparently has the longest fuse of any human that has ever lived) it kind of gets better over time. Just a couple months ago, Husband convinced me that I didn’t need to line all the magnets up on the freezer door. According to him, it didn’t look very good.

For the record, it looked AWESOME. But now it looks like this:

Not awesome, but no one has died yet, so perhaps Husband is onto something.

 

 

Do you have OCD? Recently diagnosed? Have a friend or family member with the best disorder on earth? Talk to me — I’ll even personally reply to every comment posted (unless it’s mean, and then I’ll just feel super bad about it and worry for eternity.)

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4 thoughts on “The Mind of the Overthinker

  1. Mary, this post made me laugh. Not because of your awesome OCD, er…it’s not the OCD that’s awesome – it’s you…but rather because you are freaking hilarious. With a capital H. Hilarious. There. I have many of those moments you described at the very beginning with the knives story and how you get around in your thinking/worry process. We are twins-ish. OK, we’re just friends. But I identified with this post. I never had to be led from the balcony…however, I always feel dizzy when I’m up on a balcony in an auditorium and always wonder what would happen if I fell off on accident because I was so dizzy and then I see myself falling off multiple times in different ways. And I don’t like to look into the penguin exhibit at the zoo from the side because it makes me feel creepy and dizzy to look into that blue water that I can’t see through…and what if the glass broke? I am all over the over-thinking. I’m glad you got your shiatsu knives that you always wanted. 🙂

    • Ah yes, the multiple deaths scenario. I know it all too well. I actually am 99% positive that if I were to board a scary roller coaster I would suffer cardiac arrest from anticipation alone.

  2. Pingback: Like a Fish Out of Water | The Low Point

  3. Pingback: Lessons You Learn When You Have OCD | The Low Point

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