I have always considered myself obsessive because I can never do anything halfway. I am either going to binge-watch three seasons of a show over the course of a weekend or I am never going to find the time to watch the show. I am either going to read a book in one night or I am going to leave it sitting on my shelf to gather dust for years to come.
It’s that way with everything in my life. I am one extreme or the other. I can never find a middle ground.
I can listen to the same album on repeat for weeks without growing bored of the songs. I can eat the same snack for months without growing to hate the taste. I can watch the same YouTube videos day after day, until I learn all of the words.
It turns out my behavior is called hyperfixation and it can actually be a good thing. It could actually be the cure to my anxiety.
Whenever my brain goes into overdrive, worrying about what is going to happen tomorrow and whether I am going to make a complete fool out of myself, focusing on something outside of reality can help.
It’s better for me to watch Shameless and worry about what is going to happen to Lip in the next episode (even if I have already seen the next episode five times) than let myself worry about what is going to happen to me.
When my thoughts are centered on a fictional character who has much worse problems than I will ever have, it makes my own issues seem small. Or, at the very least, it makes me forget about my issues for thirty minutes to an hour. It gives me a break from the anxiety that never seems to leave me alone.
I used to hate myself for hiding in my room and using Netflix or my Kindle or my iPod as a distraction from my sad excuse for a social life, but hyperfixating on the things I love has eased my stress. It has given me the chance to slow down, take a breath, and enjoy the moment for the first time in my life.
Some people use deep breathing exercises to calm down. Some people exercise to calm down. The thing that happens to work for me involves getting lost in a fictional world — and that is okay.
Getting lost in music and movies has reminded me there are things bigger than myself. It has reminded me there is always something to live for, always something to be excited about, even if it’s something as small as finding out what happens in the next season of a show.
If something makes me happy, then I am allowed to keep returning to it. I am allowed to watch the same movie for the third time. I am allowed to play the same songs on repeat. My binge-watching, my binge-reading, and my binge-listening are not hurting anyone. It is only helping.
It’s giving me a break from my anxiety. It’s giving me a chance to relax. It’s giving me the opportunity to feel okay again, even if it’s only for a little while.