Self Diagnosis

Because I can’t afford therapy

Rachel and I were discussing relationships. I mentioned I was trying to sort through why I was upset about a recent non-relationship ending and put words to my feelings and thoughts. I was upset because the person I was whatever with didn’t consult me before ending our situation and didn’t even ask how I felt or what I thought about it. I felt powerless, manipulated, and silenced.

During our conversation, Rachel, having an academic history of psychology, mentioned something about neurosis.

And then I felt like my whole life made sense.

Neurosis is an outdated term, now being replaced with anxiety, depression, etc, but I never felt those words explained my brain. Neurosis just clicked with me and I immediately latched onto the word and was Googling it all the while Rachel was still trying to talk to me. (#symptoms)

Because though I do identify with depressed and anxious feelings, those words, to me, aren’t fully descriptive and don’t encompass Brain Lock.

I’m going to use Brain Lock to illustrate and name what happens to my brain sometimes. This word I made up describes what happens when an idea comes into my brain and then takes over. I obsess, think in circles, nitpick, speculate, worry, stress, and can’t sleep. It’s like an idea puts my brain into a headlock and won’t let go, no matter how much I squirm or protest.

While a current of thoughts runs through my brain, it feels like the edges of my mind are fuzzy, confused, distracted, and uncomfortable, like static.

I also imagine it as an idea burrowing into the depths of my brain and festering. Festering and fermenting until my whole brain is seeped with negativity and I want to just remove it and rinse it in bleach.

I don’t feel like this all the time, but I’ve obsessed in circles over a few things on and off for years, I go on thought benders for a few days, and sometimes these sensations last a few minutes or hours, like when I’m in a group of people and track who is speaking and how much and is everyone contributing to this conversation and should I say something to engage those who aren’t and am I making enough eye contact?!

That’s why at the restaurant I wait at, my nickname is “Gabbatron 3000.” Because things out of place, things that are inefficient, and things that are slow increase that uncomfortable static and I end up doing a bunch of work with unnecessary urgency, like a robot.

It’s why there was a point I wanted to cry during my first community college class. I couldn’t hear the professor well, people were talking for no reason, I was confused, and I was overstimulated.

A Thought Catalog piece listed 15 behaviors of painfully neurotic people. I related strongly to 12 of them.

“ You are absolutely certain that the elderly cat you are cat-sitting will inevitably die while under your care, despite your near-militant adhesion to its care rituals.” I pretty much wait around for the phone call that someone in my family has passed and though Tuna is in great health, I have already thought about her death. I think it’s better to try to be prepared for it, because who knows what kind of hellish spiral I will go down if it comes as a shock.

“ You re-read an email the second after you’ve sent it knowing full well there is nothing you can do about it.” Yeah, I reread my emails, risky texts, blog posts, etc. at least a couple of times after I send/post them. To reassure myself. To speculate how they could be interpreted.

“ You can’t seem to be at a great height without imagining yourself somehow accidentally leaping off the edge to your death.” There have been multiple times when I have cried because I was too far off the surface of the Earth and when I read the following quote I felt like the author was talking about me.

“What is vertigo? Fear of falling? No, Vertigo is something other than fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.” — Milan Kundera

After I read the definition of neurosis and a few symptoms, my obsession with trying to figure out what happened in the whatever relationship made sense and also (mostly) went away.

Because previously, I was obsessing over the social cues I missed, the words said and unsaid, how I felt, what I could and would do now, to be or not to be petty, etc.

Suddenly realizing that it wasn’t my emotions, or pheromones, or social behavior, but my brain patterns, that were sending me into an obsessive, sleep-deprived spiral, made the social situation okay. It wasn’t his problem, it was mine! It wasn’t my problem, it was my brain chemistry’s!

I still had felt powerless, manipulated, and silenced, that was my truth. But those feelings are now in a new context. Will telling him my truth result in anything positive? For who? Is he worth all that energy? What can I do something to transfer my energy elsewhere? I am asking myself different questions.

Before, I couldn’t see the forest for all the trees. Now, there is more clarity. A solution, coping strategies I can implement. Now, I know it’s not just my moral failings. Now, there is an identity and strategies and support.

My whole romantic life, or lackthereof, makes so much more sense now! My thought patterns and behaviors weren’t driven by love or lust, but by my misfiring brain! My interpretations were off!

It also makes my familial relationships make more sense. I’m still unpacking my parents’ effects on me as a child and now. If genetics and environment play strong roles, well, my current way of being is not random or coincidental.

Yes, many of these thought patterns and feelings are common. But I am still flabbergasted that not all people think this way. I can’t get over it. You mean people don’t do these things? They move on much more quickly and easily? They don’t think about how nothing matters and stress over everything anyway? Their emotions don’t swing from one extreme to the other? They don’t feel like screaming on a regular basis? They are well-adjusted? Content with things!? They don’t get caught up in the details and then to cope, keep everything and everyone at distance? They don’t want to constantly run from everything?

THAT is madness.

As I was watching TV today, I put my M&Ms into columns, as I often do, sorted by color and by how many of each I had. I thought, hey Gab, there’s a long way to go, but what a beautiful step you made, what a wonderful journey you’re on, and how many things you have left to explore.