I think a lot. Sure, I find myself to be intelligent, others may agree or disagree—but the point stands that I think… a lot. With my OCD and anxiety issues, my head is generally full—mostly from observation which leads to what the future may hold from what I observe. I obsess over that. I have my issues with the world outside my brain, but some of the most distinctive issues I have come from self-analysis. I say “distinctive” because I wouldn’t say they rate differently on the simple scale of good to bad.
I’m going to focus on my analysis of myself in the present, which is obviously an ongoing issue—the present keeps going, that’s where new things crop up1. The present creates a lot of anxiety. Less than the future, and the past doesn’t quite get a pass—but the present self—as I see it—is the focus here.
Now, I do not exist in a vacuum2. So the issues here with my overanalysis of self do have a lot of to with my presentation in the world outside my brain. In fact, it all really does for purposes of this article. But it is important to note, that I know most of these issues are the workings of the part of my brain I have no control over.
I’m going to split this into a few sections, as each carries its own effects on me, and each get the infinite loop spinning in my head in a unique manner.
1. I converse in monologue
As mentioned many times, I think a lot. And I obsess. I almost always obsess over the negative. This is how I live. If that can change or not, I am not positive. I do not think so, pessimism, negativity, and worst-case scenarios are my core. They are both how I protect and propel myself, thus I’d estimate about eighty to ninety percent of my thoughts are in this unfortunate category. Unfortunate for me? I can probably admit that. Unfortunate for those I interact with? I think very much so.
I, like all humans, do wish to communicate with other humans. While I live a recluse-like life—I do know that if I can make connections to other people about my myriad disorders, I may find something that can help me. Yes, that is vague. Because I both don’t know what that something is, nor do I know how it can help me. More often than not, conversing with others does not help me much at all.
Here’s where my self-analysis on the spot gets me into my own feedback loop (which obsession creates): I am in constant fear that I am using others purely as a sounding board. I’m known for walls of text while writing, and I assume something analog while talking. I have a constant fear that I am not partaking in a dialog, but a monolog—and that this state of affairs is my fault. You see this website, you see the number of words (62,511 up until this word here.) All in three and a half months of writing. My “conversations” are a microcosm of this.
2. I’m a downer.
Now, like I mentioned, I am well aware of how much I think in the negative. There are a lot of synonyms for “negative” and I present as all of them. So I worry—obsesses—that I am constantly talking about negative things. I think we all agree that most people find this annoying3 at the very least.
All of this goes on during interaction with others. I am constantly analyzing every word and sentence, wondering how it ranks on the scale of downer-ism. It makes me afraid to communicate with others, thus contributing mightily to my social anxiety. I actually am quite social. However, I (usually, depending on mood) enter conversations easily but very quickly find myself grading my own end of the conversation for negativity that the others involved would be put off by. I do not want to put off people, I need them—or I wouldn’t be having a conversation with them. (That last part is a bit selfish, I admit.)
Even writing this, I’ve found I’ve used the word “admit” three times, and other such apologetically-flavored language. I don’t want to be a downer, but I also want to be honest. These two conditions are often diametric. I can fake my way through not being a downer, but I never leave any such conversation feeling much of anything.
3. I do not take compliments well.
All of this negativity being discussed, you would think that at least if I am getting a one-way compliment about something—especially something substantial to my life4. But compliments trigger a very heavy infinite loop inside my head.
The question is begged: what do compliments mean to me? For one, I see them as another appreciating my work as I’ve intended it to be appreciated… for… a microsecond. Then I get to thinking, immediately. Thinking, as mentioned, a lot.
When I receive a complement I think that from here on out I will not be able to live up to that which I was complimented on. I think in terms of peaks on micro-scale. Good painting? I’ll never paint a better one. Good work building a computer application? It will fail, be riddled with bugs, and the complement will be embarrassing on a level where said complement should somehow be taken back.
I am a creative person, and one thing I detest is people seeing my work in process. I only like people seeing completely finished pieces. This is because a complement midway through will make completing the project to my standards very difficult—as others’ standards are now in play.
But all of life is an iterative project, and thus complements at any time serve to create the same anxiety. I don’t like talking about my work. And when it is brought up, in a positive sense, I get a physical feeling that is very difficult to describe—but it is not nice. It is as if I lose a little muscle control. My brain feels like it is detaching as a complement is coming on. I will often move the conversation to something wholly different. Anything.
If I do not, I am left feeling very empty. Which is sad. But emptiness is the final place I land after a complement. I assume that is it, I’ve done the best I can do, and will never do better.
So there you have it—me in society. It is a tremendously complicated thing: not knowing how much to say, not knowing if I am holding my end of the conversation up, and not being able to have the conversation go in a positive way for me personally.
I’m not easy. But luckily for you, it is… all in my head.
1 And for someone with OCD, new things are very rarely welcome. [BACK]
2 Oh! Do I wish! [BACK]
3 Actually, I don’t. I like hearing of others’ problems. But I admit to possibly taking over conversations still. [BACK]
4 I really don’t categorize complements to things like my looks in this arena. Anyway, you don’t know what I look like. Well, you know what my hair looks like. You can compliment that here. See what I did there? Moving on! [BACK]