As an over thinker, I can tell you there is nothing more frustrating than being told to “stop” overthinking. As if it were a choice, as if I have willingly chose to live with this parasite that haunts my mind every single day. As though I hadn’t thought of it myself over 19 years, to try and simply “stop” overthinking. Unfortunately, overthinking is much more complex – it is an art, a masterpiece of the mind and the abuse of its power.
My experience with overthinking has taken so much away from my life. There have been significant times when my mental health deteriorated to extremely poor levels, because I didn’t know how to shut my brain off. I still don’t. I remember as a little girl, I would always think out every possible scenario in my mind, plan my outfits for birthday parties days before, and re-think the outfit a million times and still change it on the day. Overthinking was in its most innocent form in my younger years – nothing too out of the ordinary. As I got older, and went through different experiences, school, college, making new friends, losing other ones, relationships, embarking on my career – my mind began to spiral completely out of control.
As an over thinker, if you’re saying something, we’ve probably already thought it. We have tried every possible solution to try and shut down our minds, before we give in and accept this part of our minds that we must learn to live with. We know we’re overthinking. We know we’re being “paranoid”, a little selfish, and unrealistic. We spend so much time, too much time, thinking out different scenarios until one is bound to eventually come true. That is all it takes – one single confirmation of our paranoia, and suddenly overthinking dictates every aspect of our lives.
However, in no way does knowing that we are over thinkers, stops us from being so. Recognising the symptoms does not provide the cure. In fact, I have lost hope of a cure for overthinking. In my own struggle with overthinking, I have found things that have eased the experience, but never fully solved the problem. For example, I like having someone stay with me on the phone until I sleep, to distract my mind from overthinking. There have been so many nights, where I have been grateful to have someone on the other end of the line, to help share the weight of my thoughts. But, overthinking doesn’t just strike when night falls – it is a fear that plays on your mind, day and night.
Overthinking is every fear that holds you back. It’s worrying about things that might never happen. It’s never truly letting go of things that have. It’s being home to a mind that is going a million miles a minute, never slowing or shutting down until you’re physically and mentally drained. It’s the pause between texts or typing and deleting a message a million times before sending it. It’s also sending a ton of texts one after the other, all in big block paragraphs, because no amount of words can explain the thoughts rushing through your head all at once. It’s rambling on the phone, firing from one topic to the next, because there is always another thought popping into your head every other second. It’s the constant string of questions you have, and the need for answers that you might not always get.
Overthinking is the doubt that destroys you. It’s the voice of criticism that haunts your every decision. The voice that always makes you doubt yourself, and everything around you. The voice that always names the 101 reasons why you are not good enough, why you never will be. It brings your mistakes back up, just when you thought you had forgot them. It’s the wait for the next big mistake you’ll make. It’s waiting for something constantly, and having no clue what it is you’re waiting for. It’s waiting for something to go wrong, because overthinking has brought everything you have ever loved to a dramatic end, and gave you no one to blame but yourself.
In relationships, it’s the fear that you’re better off alone because you need so much understanding in a partner. It’s constantly expressing apologies you didn’t need to say in the first place, simply because you’re sorry for constantly questioning and thinking the worst. It’s the struggle in trying to explain to the person you love that it isn’t them you’re doubting, it’s not your lack of trust in them – it’s your lack of trust in yourself. It’s your own self doubt that is eating you alive. It’s trying to explain to the person you love, that you need to constantly be reassured, that you could never tire of hearing certain things over and over again, like “I love you”, or “we are okay”, or “I’m not going to leave you.” It’s needing them to say things, and mean them, and stick them through – to not fall back on promises. It’s the pain you have to face if they can’t understand why you need to hear things like that so often, or the complete self doubt that follows if they leave.
It’s needing them to be honest all the time, and to explain things very clearly, so that your mind isn’t left to fill in the blanks. It’s preferring awkward conversations and constant fighting, over bad communication. It’s wanting to constantly talk things through, so that there is always an open space for discussion and so closure is always attainable. The worst thing you can do to an over thinker in a relationship is to not communicate with them. You are handing them the gun to point to their head. Over thinkers would rather scream their heads off and fight until the morning, and then spend the rest of the night making up, than brush things under a rug, while our mind is still running around looking for closure, creating ten more problems, than the original one at hand.
Overthinking is caring too much, about so much. It’s caring for the people you love more than yourself. It’s caring too much what the people in your life think of you, how much they value you or how they view you. It’s pretending that ignored text doesn’t even impact you, when actually all you can think about is what you did wrong? What you could have you done to prevent the worst? It’s carefully picking your words because you never want to hurt someone intentionally. It’s trying to find solutions to problems that don’t even exist. It’s worrying about the future, to the point that you can’t even focus on the now. It’s trying to have a plan for everything, so that you can always be prepared. It’s overthinking when those plans fall through. It’s hoping you have the energy to draw up new ones.
Overthinking is waking up every day, hoping today will be better than the day before. It is also coming to terms that it might not be, because you have learned to expect the worst. It’s dreaming of a day when your mind no longer haunts your body, even though you’ve never known a time in your life when it didn’t.