Obsessive Mind or Racing Mind?

This post is a culmination of quite a few thinks.  Well, at least I hope that this is the culmination as I am sort of tired of them.  When I think about things for too long, I start to wonder why I spend so much time thinking about them.  Are they that important?  The weird thing about these particular thinks is that they are about thinking.  I know, that is kind of circular thinking.  Who thinks about thinking?

Apparently…I do.

As a guidance counselor, I am semi-fluent in mental health stuffs. The education world  in which I work expects me to participate in IEP meetings and know what various diagnoses are without having to refer to a flip charts. As I engage with diagnoses in the students around me and then in others such as family members, friends, and coworkers, I see the threads of diagnoses and sense them seeping into many of our lives. In fact, as more and more diagnoses are developed, I have become quite certain that we all have the possibility to have a diagnosis.

I am certain that it would be understandable why this then causes me to think and think and think sometimes. I observe and analyze behavior. My brain knows the list of symptoms needed in order to diagnose someone with a mental illness.  Of course, this is dangerous…I am not trained to actually diagnosis anyone with anything. I have to watch myself, be careful, and keep my thinks to myself about others, their children, and even my children. If I would speak my mind, with its untrained and impulsive thoughts, I could create quite a mess and cause quite a bit of pain in the lives of others. This is unfair, cruel, and unethical.

All of that being said, when I apply my own thinks to myself, it is ok. There is nothing unethical about applying my own training to myself. This has been somewhat helpful in my journey over the past few years – first as I collaborated with my doctor and psychiatrist to determine the appropriate diagnosis and now as I continually learn how to understand my own brain. That is where the question leading to the title of this post and even the title of this blog site. I used to think that I had an obsessive mind, but I have realized that what I actually have is a racing mind.

What is the difference?

An obsessive mind finds one item on which to focus and then zeros in on that item. The think grows as one thinks about it more and more. Nothing else is important, all other thinks are suppressed somehow by the brain, and even other people have a hard time helping the thinkers move on to other thinks.  The house needs to be cleaned. The closet needs reorganizing. More cupcakes need to be made. The blog post is not perfect and needs to be rewritten. The list of what could become an obsession is endless.  Readers can continue to add to the list in the comment section if they would like.

On the other hand, a racing mind thinks many thinks, almost simultaneously, and has a hard time keeping the thinks in the mind long enough to sort them out. These thinks can be random, related, or tied to life. They can be re-thinks of thinks that came through the mind before, and sometimes –  when they come back around – the thinks are slightly different, contradicting, and lack common sense. Eventually, they may find their way into a blog post.

I used to think that I struggle with an obsessive mind. I was wrong. I struggle with a racing mind.  A lot.  Sometimes it is not really a struggle as it can be very beneficial to think about a lot of things at once. This is true when sitting in meetings that bore me or when waiting outside of a court room for a truancy hearing. However, more times than not, some thinks – some very important thinks – get lost in all of the racing. Who is supposed to pick up the girl from school?  What is going on tonight? When was the last time I paid the bills?  Not good thinks to lose.

This blog in its entirety is a coping mechanism for me in order to deal with the racing mind that at times keeps me awake at night. As the thinks plague me, I sleep less. Writing, getting the thinks out, and forcing myself to focus in the writing process has become a huge asset. When thinks interfere with my day, I open up the started blog posts related to the thinks and do a mind dump (similar to a verbal vomit but in the written word instead of the spoken word).  At just about any time that one would find about four blog posts in process on my computer.

Blogging has helped with the racing mind immensely. When my mind refuses to shut down so that I can sleep, I just get up and write for a little while.  This happened on Monday evening; a great blog post came out of the sleeplessness, and I eventually went back to bed with an empty mind.  Unfortunately, life still required me to wake up only a few hours later. All in all, however, this has become a link to sanity and has also allowed me to reduce medication strengths.

If we can cope with the manic tendencies by blogging, let’s do so!  I just wish I could figure out how to cope with the lows in a different way than heading to bed for the day.


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3 responses to “Obsessive Mind or Racing Mind?

  1. ColonialPunk

    Thanks for clarifying the difference! Unfortunately, I experience both obsessive and racing thoughts (though not usually at the same time, thank goodness!).

    Your method of coping with racing thoughts is the same as mine, it’s pretty much the only thing I can do that has worked to extinguish things and let me sleep.

    Nice post!


  2. refreshinghearts

    One think that kept going through my mind was Winnie the Pooh’s “think, think, think”. And often times I think too much. In fact, I wish my brain would turn off at night so I could get a rest from thinking….btw, I love the way you think. Keep it up. 🙂


  3. Pingback: Results of a Racing Mind « slowingtheracingmind

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