John Green's novel "Turtles All the Way Down" depicts what it's like to suffer within your own thoughts fairly well. In the novel, the main character, Aza, lives with extreme OCD and anxiety revolving around her fear of bacteria. Aza described her anxious state as being stuck in a spiral, driving herself mad via the same circular path, round and round, and being less and less able to escape as the spiral coils tighter. The main reason why I love this book so much is because of how relatable Aza is. No, I don't have severe OCD, but I do understand the feeling of driving myself mad through overthinking. I've labeled myself as a chronic overthinker, and over the years, I've realized how much overthinking has really affected me.
It wasn't so bad when I was younger. Throughout elementary school, my unstoppable thoughts kept me from sleeping an uncountable number of nights, which frustrated me and, at worst, made me tired during the day. As I matured, my thoughts became more serious in middle school. One of the biggest things that I couldn't stop thinking about was my simple inability to imagine myself graduating from high school. I cried about it often and took it as an omen, thinking it meant that I would either be unsuccessful or wouldn't live to experience my own graduation.
High school was the worst period of all regarding my overthinking. It seems petty, but drama throughout high school sent me to unimaginable lows concerning self esteem and belief in myself. I'm saving individual anecdotes for the future, so in short, I lost myself. I thought too much about pleasing others and, at some point, I just felt like a thin net of swirling thoughts that was ready to snap. I overanalyzed every word I said and every move I made. It was like everything about me was heavily calculated and premeditated, like I had a file cabinet of options in my brain that I frantically flipped through whenever I was faced with choices. Sometimes, I couldn't even spontaneously be me because I was stuck trying to figure out whether I would like who I really was or if I even truly knew myself.
Despite being blessed with supportive family and friends, I felt like I was facing my thoughts alone. People I reached out to told me that talking would help, but I hesitated to speak my mind openly from fear of scrutiny, so I actually ended up bottling a lot of things in, which helped no one. Of course, conquering this thing that's been going on my entire life has proven extremely difficult, but the load's lightened a little after experimenting with different forms of coping.
I read books either to escape to a place that isn't my own head or to explore places that I cannot stop thinking about. I draw and journal in an attempt to take whatever's in my head and physically transfer it elsewhere. I also go on downloading sprees for music to see if any artists out there have verbalized and sang about things that I can't seem to find the words to explain on my own.
Above all this, I've been focusing a lot on reclaiming myself. I've gained a lot more confidence in determining how I live without allowing unnecessary thoughts to dictate my life. It became apparent how much I measured life by consequences, options, and possible futures. It's kind of different now, though. What is a little extra sugar today going to do? So what if I'd rather take this class later than now? Who cares if I wear too much floral and too less stripes? What could go wrong if I do this or that, say this or that, choose this over that, etc.?
I guess the bottom line is that there are probably infinite ways to live life, so instead of just thinking about all those ways, why not try as many of the possibilities as you can? I used to think that it was so repetitive and cheesy when people said, "Life is too short," but I realize now how right they are. No, I'm not advocating total impulsivity, but to just live life as it is. Consequences come when they must be given, and only time will be able to answer our questions of when, why, and how things should happen. For now, all we should do is give, live, and love for as long and as much as we can. It's taken time for me, but already, things seem a lot simpler.