My ‘Transiently Obsessive’ Personality

After my last post about my alcohol ‘habits’, I allowed myself to think about something else about my personality that I usually choose to ignore. I have an addictive personality. Nearly everything I do in life I approach like an addict. Firstly there are the obvious ones – I smoke cigarettes – I am well and truly addicted to those. Then there’s the alcohol, which I discussed in my last post – I don’t think I’m physically addicted but I am an habitual drinker, therefore approach the whole thing like an addict. Then there’s the cannabis – I’m definitely not physically addicted to that as I can take it or leave it – I just like it. However with Cannabis I go through phases. When I’ve got it, I often just smoke it because it’s there – I’ll get home from work, make some food (sometimes), pour myself a glass of wine or grab a beer, sit in front of the tv and skin up. That will become the pattern for days/weeks/months until I decide I’m doing it too much, make myself feel guilty and stop. For a while.

My tv watching habits are also like that of an addict. I mainly watch boxsets now, and when I start one, I become feverishly obsessed in watching the whole lot – I can’t do anything else (apart from drink and smoke) while I haul myself through series after series. I’m particularly hooked at the moment – currently on season 9 of Stargate SG1 and series 2 of Stargate Atlantis (following the recommended viewing order as found on a Stargate fan website forum). That’s 20 episodes per season – 9 seasons down another 9 to go (of all the Stargate series’) Now don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with watching boxsets, it’s just the way I do it. I become obsessed and don’t want to do anything else other than watch the next episode – even if I’m falling asleep. At the weekend I have to forbid myself from watching an episode until after I’ve got myself up and gone to the supermarket for food and done a couple of chores like hoovering or laundry. THEN I can settle in for the rest of the day to a marathon session of Stargate or whatever it is I’m watching at the time.

I go through phases. After I’ve finished all the Stargates, I will almost certainly collapse into an exhausted heap and take a break from watching boxsets – maybe for a week, maybe a month, sometimes 6 months or longer while I embark upon my next addiction. If I don’t find a new addiction to take over from the last, I become restless, bored, irritable etc.

Another addiction that will consume me for weeks on end is playing the game Civilization on the computer – each game can last easily 10 hours. That addiction is particularly bad as I end up not going to bed until 2am or 3am because I just can’t tear myself away – even if I have work the next day. I have stayed up until 7-8am in the past – but that was usually when combined to another, far more dangerous addiction that thankfully I permanently kicked about a year & a half ago: Cocaine. For about 4 or 5 years I spent an absolute fortune on this over-rated, damaging, dreadful drug. Thankfully I couldn’t actually afford a Cocaine habit so finances restricted the amount I took and helped to minimise my addiction, however I did become physically addicted to it and any fun I used to get out of it had long since disappeared. I gave up on New Years eve 2009/10, then very reluctantly had a few lines in June last year which just drove the final nail in the coffin of that particular vice for me as I didn’t want to take it in the first place (peer pressure), hated it when I did and had a dreadful evening because of it.

On the subject of drugs, I also had an addictive spell on Ecstasy from probably 1998-2001. Again, I stopped enjoying that, so stopped taking it. Now the only ‘illegal drug’ I partake in is the lowly joint. I don’t have a problem with that stuff and actually think it should be legalised as I believe it to be less harmful than alcohol and cigarettes (apart from the really strong stuff like skunk which turns young teens psychotic, but that stuff is a world apart from the good old fashioned cannabis resin that I smoke). Like anything though, do too much of it and it becomes bad.

I also became completely addicted to an MMOG (massively multiplayer online game) called DarkGalaxy back in 2001 (ish). You had a home planet and the idea was to colonise other empty planets, then when they were all gone, you started building fleets of ships and invading other peoples planets. You joined an alliance (usually about 30-40 people but up to 100 people) and you would have a forum to discuss tactics and plan wars with other alliances. As well as the forum many of us used to congregate on IRC and discuss plans and organise attacks. It was a really active community and great fun. And hugely addictive. Because players lived all over the world, you never knew when an attack might come – the more active you were, the better you could defend yourself and launch counterattacks. I used to set my alarm for 3am or 4am just in order to get up and launch a fleet or invade a planet. The game was turn based – 1 hour was 1 turn, and it would typically take 6 – 12 turns (hours) to travel from one planet to another. These games went on for months. Sadly the people who made and ran the game got tired of it and they pulled the plug. There were a lot of very sad people all around the world that day. I still miss it and have never managed to find another game quite like it, as good or as addictive. It was probably a good thing it was taken from me though or I’d probably still be playing the damned game now.

Recording music is another thing that ends up being like an addiction – once I start on a song or tune, I cannot rest or think about anything else until it is completed. Sometimes something can go down in a couple of hours, sometimes I’ll be working at a song for 3 or 4 weeks. Again though it is to the detriment of everything else including eating in that particular case.

Cooking. I go through addictive phases with this where I’ll go through weeks or months where I cook big meals every single evening, eat like a king, spend hours in the kitchen and in the supermarket… then I lose interest, the food goes to waste in my fridge, I slowly buy less and less in the supermarket & if I’m so hungry I really have to eat I’ll find the quickest easiest possible thing I can.

Sweets. I will go through weeks where I just gorge myself on sweets, then I won’t touch them for months and months even years.

Even alcohol – I nothing but white wine for months… actually years, then I switched to red wine (always Rioja), then I’d switch to lager or I’ll have a period on the gin & tonics. I purposely now alternate between red wine and lager.

Lunch – I will eat the same thing at work for lunch for weeks on end (currently Pret a Manger humous salad with a tub of edamame… been doing that for about a month so far). Before that it was noodles, before that chicken couscous… in winter I usually do soup & a baguette… whatever it is, I eat something to death until I can’t bear the thought of eating it ever again.

Sex – when I first found gaydar on the internet I spent ALL my time trawling through the profiles, getting in touch with guys and meeting up with them. About 4 years of that. Then it was a gay bar I’d go into every night after work on the way home. Then I got bored of that.

Then I’ll spend weeks and weeks doing nothing but playing the piano… then I’ll get bored of that.

Then I’ll find a new computer game and play nothing but that until I get bored of that.

Then I’ll spend weeks putting the band up on some website… say myspace or reverbnation, and I’ll spend all my time on that. Until I get bored.

I spent about 8 months completely addicted to researching my family tree… that also has now fallen by the wayside.

Currently, my addiction is this blog….

Everything I do, every interest I have, seems to be like an addiction. I think I could probably apply this theory to almost every aspect of my life. It’s like I’m a wandering nomad always looking for a home, putting down roots here and there, but never settling down, always moving on. Always restless, finding bits of happiness and contentment along the way, but never with any longevity.

I’m wondering if perhaps my current depression has actually arisen because after all these years, I have finally exhausted all of these diversions and distractions – I’m bored of all of them and I want something new but have no idea what to do next. I’ve spent my whole life bouncing from one ‘addiction’ to the next, so unless I can find something new that can become all-consuming, I won’t be happy. I have no idea what to do or think about all this  – I’ve never actually thought about it before. I’m sure it can’t be very healthy.

Thinking about it, I suppose a better word than ‘addiction’, would be ‘obsession’. I get obsessed by things…. oh… does that mean I have OCD? I thought that was a long-term habit type thing that just gets worse, like constantly washing hands or having to check the doors are locked 6 times before leaving the house etc. ? Perhaps someone can enlighten me?

Whatever this thing is called, if it’s even got a name (I’ve rather grandly called it ‘Transiently Obsessive’ in the title of this post just to give it a name, but I’m not sure if that is even a real term), it is a rather disturbing realisation that my behaviour patterns are in fact so predictable…. and obsessive.

Thank god I start therapy in a weeks time.

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About RescueMyLife

I am a single man, 45 years old living in London and working in the media. My life is complex and I have decided to try and make some sense of it. I am writing this blog anonymously as I believe that only by remaining anonymous can I be honest and speak freely about my thoughts and feelings. I have no idea where this blog will take me...
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6 Responses to My ‘Transiently Obsessive’ Personality

  1. Paul says:

    I think you pretty much describe me (but with different obsessions.) I find that when I am in a really depressive funk I’ll usually latch on to one thing to try and drag me through the crap. So far I have had spells with Classic Doctor Who, Horror Films ( I even set up a website for that obsession… it’s gone now and is now a Doctor Who website that’s been left wanting for a few weeks.) However, my main crutch is music, I will stay up until god kno0ws what time in the morning to get through an artists back catalogue or I will replay the same album over and over again in different formats (studio version several live versions, tribute versions done by other artists.)

    All of this is a known sign for my family to take a little extra notice that5 things aren’t going to well and they try and suggest things to distract me and help me back up. Doesn’t always work (I’m a strong willed B’stard at times.)

    A CPN i once had said there was nothing wrong in my behaviour, but I should always try and remember the phrase “All things in moderation”… Easier said than done.

    • RescueMyLife says:

      It does sound very much like we have a lot in common here… different ‘obsessions’ as you say, but definitely the same pattern of behaviour. You are absolutely right about latching onto one thing to pull yourself through / distract yourself from a depressive episode. It kinda just works so well doesn’t it… Well it used to work, but doesn’t so much for me now. I want my happy obsessions back! It’s very good to hear that you have been told there is nothing wrong with this behaviour – it’s also good to hear that I’m not alone in this particular behavioural oddity! ‘All things in moderation’ is not something that comes easily to the likes of you and me… we can but try!
      RML

  2. MrsP says:

    You’ve pretty much described me too, especially regarding the foods, the programmes, it was facebook but now twitter more so. I am a fussy eater and don’t eat a lot of foods for ridiculous reasons but I find a ‘safe’ food such as couscous salad now and will eat loats of it, or pink lady apples or cereal. It was scones for a couple of months, I actually decided that I could make them myself, I knew they were clean and same and yummy so that’s what I’d eat. Imean, WTF?! Never been a gamer but I research new jobs and start things I will never be able to cope with. I am probably distracting myself to a degree, focussiing on anything but the important stuff. Also, there is a fair amount of food issues thrown in the mix with me.

    • RescueMyLife says:

      It’s a strange thing. I know I will probably always do it and it’s ok… as long as it doesn’t get out of hand. I’m totally off the computer games and have been for some months now. I forced myself away from this blog in order to open my eyes to the real world again for a while and it was absolutely the right thing to do. My latest food addiction is sushi. I’ve also been spending a lot of time tracking down mp3’s of old, long lost favourite songs from my youth. I think without my little obsessions, life would be rather dull so long may they last.
      RML

  3. HHarris says:

    My keyboard is screwed, so excuse my mistakes, but U ARE NOT alone, RML!! New 2 ur blog; looking forward 2 reading everything. Hope all is well ~ I’ll be back soon! — HH

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