Overthinkers Anonymous

June 19, 2024

The other night I sat in silence, immersed in the darkness of my living room. I sat there paralyzed by exhaustion. 

The only company I had was a cat who had fallen deep into sleep—still managing to keep her distance from me, of course. I envied her ability to simply close her eyes and drift off into slumber, not weighed down by her emotions. No thoughts, head empty.

I remembered foolishly thinking for a moment that I could finally be at peace, but for someone like me, peace has never existed. 

If I were lucky, my mind would decide to focus on something dull and uninteresting that I could solve with ease, improving my mood for all of five seconds. Then it was back to the regularly scheduled chaos that trapped me inside my head. 

I wished I could be like that cat—in all the different ways. 

I wished I had a tail. I wished I was so adorable that regardless of all the things I broke, I’d still be wanted. I wished I could sleep, for once. 

And most importantly, I wished I was able to easily forget things because having to remember every little detail about every interaction I’ve ever had put a lot of strain on myself. 

Which was partially why I couldn’t sleep most nights.

It didn’t matter where I was—the couch, my bed, someone else’s—sleep and I weren’t friends.

Every night was just like the last. You’d think all the overthinking would tire me out, but no, it just made things worse. I would stare up at the ceiling trying my best to compartmentalize my thoughts and save them for later, but my head did what it wanted to do without asking me.

Everything I did or said would come swirling back into my brain all competing with each other to be the main thing that I stressed about. 

Did that person honk at me and flip me the bird as I was heading for the bus stop? Was the waiter upset at me for the way I walked in or was it because I thanked them after every word?

I was at the store one day, and the employee mentioned that I looked tired and that I should get some rest. A few days later, I talked to my mother, and she made a point to tell me I looked horrible due to the bags under my eyes.

Both comments were unwarranted but ultimately true.

Nighttime wasn’t the only place my thoughts ran free. Nothing was off-limits. Regardless of the time of day, there was a high chance you’d find me anxious and powerless.

As a world champion overthinker, my mind was a dangerous place. Being left alone with my every thought was detrimental to my health—I was aware of that, but coping with it sometimes seemed harder than letting it destroy me from the inside out.

I used to think I did a good job of not letting it all get to me. In the past, I was complimented on my composure.

At some point, a part of me decided that it was no fun hiding my pain and that I should wear it around like a badge of honor, resulting in numerous breakdowns.

If you’d asked me before, I would’ve said that this was the first time I’ve cried in a long time. I couldn’t use that excuse anymore. It became a monthly thing, sometimes even more frequent than that. 

I think this was why I eventually became so adamant about feeling my feelings and being more open about the things I struggled with. In addition, I urged others to do the same. 

I had loads of experience dealing with the kind of harm that bottling things up could do. Everything would build up and suddenly burst at the worst time—to be fair, there was never a correct time to fall apart into a million pieces, but I had my preferences.

Even after the initial breakdown, I was still left with this curse. 

I overthought the way I broke down. I overthought the words I used in the heat of the moment, even though I clearly wasn’t in the right mind. I overthought the impression it would leave on other people. 

It was a vicious cycle that I wasn’t sure I’d ever escape. 

I overthought what could go wrong. I overthought what had already gone wrong. I even overthought certain things that could go right.

I wanted to get better, but I didn’t know how. 

In my attempt to break the curse, I read that some people rid their minds of these thoughts by changing their points of view or using mindless distractions. 

Those were some of the things I tried, but they never seemed to make a difference.

Obviously, I hadn’t tried everything, but I felt like my attempts were futile. It was something I had to live with and would continue to live with forever. 

So, I adopted a more positive mindset, deciding to spend time with myself to try and understand why I cared so much about the things that bothered me.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be completely better, but it is a start. 

I still have a long, treacherous journey ahead, but I am sure that one day I’ll get there, and when I do, it will be a magnificent no thoughts, head empty day.

Enriko Pratt is a California-based writer with a soft spot for mystery and fantasy stories. He has contributed articles to Stellium, Fictionate.Me, VIBBIDI, and Loose Lips, and served as a section editor for Querencia and the editor-in-chief of The Mesa Press. His primary focus when writing is to ensure he represents marginalized communities, promising always to have main characters who are queer people of color. When he’s not reading or writing, Enriko can be found playing Pokemon and Zelda or quoting his favorite movie, Mean Girls.



Featured image by Christian Lambert.