Thinking obsessive thoughts, for me, is nothing new. I’ve been doing so for about 10 or 11 years. It’s something I’m just starting to understand: their impact on my mental health and relationships.
As with any story, let’s start at the beginning. It was 2008 and I was 13. A cute teacher joined my school (if anyone from my school is reading this, you’ll know who 🙈) and I instantly had a crush on him. I can remember the day I first saw him like it was yesterday. Most people have their first crushes on a teacher, so I wasn’t too worried.
But then I had an insatiable need to find out everything to do with him: who his family were, and other details. I would spend hours researching on the internet, I was so happy to find something new. Looking back, this is pretty obsessive behaviour, and he was the first thing I thought of when I got up and last thing before bed.
I remember getting called into the Deputy Headteacher’s office quite a few times throughout my time at the school to discuss it. They were nice about it, but I didn’t really know what to tell them.
The mental toll it took on me was a lot. I specifically remember laying in bed crying, not because I still liked him or anything, but because I didn’t know what to do to make these thoughts and behaviour stop. I also couldn’t articulate it to anyone, because I didn’t get it either. What was I to say to my friends or peers at school? They would say ‘what the fuck Amy, that’s so weird’.
There’s two things, looking back, that scared me about my crush on him: the more he resisted, the more obsessive I became, and that it took four years and him leaving the school to finally think ‘right I need to stop now’.
You know Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day that contains the lyrics “I walk a lonely road, the only one that I have ever known / Don’t know where it goes, but it’s home to me and I walk alone”? I feel like that a lot of the time I’m obsessed with things. For a chunk of my life it really is all I’ve known, moving from one obsession to the other. Also it’s very lonely, and not exactly something that everyone understands (including me), how to deal with.
But it wasn’t just people I have been obsessed with in the past, TV shows too. Fandoms of shows can be great, as you make new friends around one interest, but it’s also mentally draining because of the need to be validated by the people you look up to.
Since the ages of 17 and 22, this particular show was my entire life. It was the formative years of my young adulthood, and I’m not saying that I regret it as such, but I will never get those years back. I was too obsessed with a show to worry about anything else.
Because you get so in your head about being a fan of something and interacting with the people you love, it really can blur the lines. Some of the boundaries of usual friendly relationships can be crossed a little, with more interaction meaning that you think they love you more (does that make any sense? I hope so).
I realise now that actually although the makers of my favourite show did appreciate me, I didn’t have any chance of being more than a big fan of their show, as they probably wouldn’t call me up to hang out rather than with their real-life friends.
After I was finished with obsessing over that show, I made a point of researching why I might be prone to becoming obsessed. This has allowed me to explore more about my personality.
Now, whenever I feel myself stepping over that line of a healthy relationship with something/someone, I have a coping technique: I take myself away from whatever it is for a bit, and then only when I can handle it sensibly, do I go back to it. I literally have to treat myself like a child sometimes and not let myself have something because I know how damaging it can be to my mental health.
But there’s one thing I’m still grappling with: where do I get help from? I’m sure these coping techniques may work for the short-term, but what about the long-term, if I get into a relationship? What would happen if we broke up and I became obsessed? That’s why I’m honestly terrified to get into a relationship. Do I go to a psychiatrist? Counsellor? A clinic of some kind? That’s something I’ll have to look into.
If you’re here at the bottom of the post, well done for reading such a long post and a bit of a brain dump. Thank you for reading my thoughts on such a personal subject to me and let me know if you have any suggestions as to what I could do.
A K Jones