Little Miss Obsessive

16 Sep
Should I make this cake? Photo credit Morgue File User Life is Good

Should I make this cake? Photo credit Morgue File User Life is Good

Last post I rambled about how certain personality traits may contribute to, hinder, or be a symptom of, my ME/CFS.  If you missed that post you can read it here.

It’s hard to know which trait to tackle first so I’m just going to dive right in to OBSESSIVENESS without letting myself obsessively over think (haha) the choice.

According to the definition of obsessive is: to be continually preoccupied by a particular activity, person or thing. It is often an unwanted feeling or emotion, that continually forces itself into consciousness and consequently is frequently accompanied by anxiety. Words such as neurotic, gripping, compulsive, excessive and extreme are used to define obsessive.

I don’t think I am obsessive in respect of a particular thing or person. For me it is more that I have an obsessive way of thinking.

I think the best way to explain this is with a couple of examples. Now please don’t judge or ridicule me for the stories I am about to share – I’m laying out my soul here people, for you all to see! So please be gentle with me 🙂

I have a friend coming over this weekend for tea and cake and a long over due catch up. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve looked through recipe books and food blogs this week. I have been preoccupied by the idea of what cake to make. It’s totally unwanted, I wish I could just settle on something and choose and just make the thing! And not be constantly thinking and planning. It’s made me feel anxious with a tightness in my chest that is so physical. It’s not a big thing. Or rather it needn’t / shouldn’t be a big thing. Or even a thing at all. Tea and cake. Simple. But my obsessive nature has made it into a big thing. It has taken it to an extreme; to a place where ‘healthy’ people tend not to end up. I can see other personality traits at work here too. I can see that I am being perfectionist about what to make. One reason, I guess, that I’ve been so preoccupied with what cake to make is because I want it to be the best it can be. I want to make the best thing I can find. Perfectionist you see. Also I only really need to make one thing. But as I come across more and more things I want to make, I’m thinking maybe I’ll make thumb print cookies and granola bars and muffins! This is totally unnecessary given there’ll just be the two of us. But that’s the ‘all or nothing’ characteristic at work. I’m a pusher. I don’t ever do things by halves. I guess there’s an element of me worrying about what other’s think at play here too; as well as a self confidence issue. I want my friend to like what I make. I guess I want her to be impressed and think good things of me….arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Or is this the perfect cake to make? Photo credit: Morgue File User MUmland

Or is this the perfect cake to make? Photo credit: Morgue File User MUmland

Psychology of Jess 101 is quite revealing isn’t it?! Eye opening that’s for sure.

Another example of my obsessiveness concerns changing the sheets on our bed. Yes you heard me right. I think obsessively about changing the sheets….when we should (by some imaginary social standard that I seem bound to) change them; how to change them – should Mr B and I do it or shall we wait until our cleaner is in next week. If we change them on X day, then the cleaner can change them when she comes on X day, but then we would need to have washed them by X day…… Yes this is a conversation I actually caught myself having in my head whilst I was cleaning my teeth last night – what’s happened to being in the moment Jess? Mindfulness, get back to the moment! I don’t think it’s ‘normal’ (hate that word) healthy to think this way. And I would bet every penny of my life savings on Mr B never ever having had similar thoughts!! I doubt changing the bed ever enters his head!

I’m tired just reliving these two incidences. And this is the way my brain thinks about pretty much everything. Very very draining. You can see how this thought pattern behaviour is sapping my (already limited) energy. This obsessive thing also creates anxiety which means internal stress. This stress is basically throwing highly flammable petrol on an all ready uncontrollable ME/CFS fire….not at all helpful.

In my defence, I think ME/CFS has made me like this. In part at least. Planning comes with the territory with ME/CFS. With limited energy and chronic pain, I can’t just do what I want when I want. I certainly can’t make three types of cake. If I did I’d be flat on the floor in one big heap totally unfit for my friend’s visit. Hence I spend so much time ‘obsessively thinking’ and choosing what to make.  If I just went and stripped the bed when I thought of it, I would be in the bed recovering for a good while. Changing the sheets is something I just can’t do at the moment. My arms, neck and shoulders just hurt too much. So it’s an activity that has to be planned. Ditto with washing the sheets. I should forget anything to do with changing beds and housework, but life doesn’t really work like that does it? Mr B is AMAZING and is enabling me to live in our flat with him by being so supportive and doing so much. But he is a boy, and his cleanliness standards are slightly different to mine – the memory of him not changing his sheets for an entire term at Uni has left deep scars on me!!

Do others with ME/CFS have similar obsessive thought patterns? I believe so, but maybe you can tell me? ME/CFS certainly makes this character trait of mine much worse, even if it was inherently already there and at work to a much lesser degree.

This obsessive way of thinking has been running for so long now. It is an unconscious pattern. I do it without even realising. So it is hard to break. NLP can help with this. I need to work harder to break this pattern and to free myself from this energy draining obsessive way of thinking. Writing this post is like shining a light on this character trait of mine. It has been really helpful, if a little daunting to reveal myself like this. It’s making me see just how entrenched this obsessive way of thinking is for me and spurs me on to keep using NLP to break this pesky habit. It’s not the magic cure to my ME/CFS but it is another tiny piece of the recovery jigsaw.


31 Responses to “Little Miss Obsessive”

  1. Kristina Schwende September 16, 2013 at 8:59 am #

    Oh my goodness, I do the exact same things!! I agree with you – I do feel that CFS has amplified certain character traits in me. I have become obsessive about certain things. I too have always been a perfectionist most of my life. Thank you for your courage and sharing so openly. I always feel less alone in my illness when I read your blog ^_^

    • myjourneythrume September 16, 2013 at 9:41 am #

      I’m so glad I’m not the only one like this! Reading your comment has made me feel less alone, thank you.

  2. dawnhosking September 16, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    I am a Virgo so high standards are a trait that I try to damp down as best I can 😉

    • myjourneythrume September 16, 2013 at 9:40 am #

      Ooh that’s interesting. I’m going to look up what being a Taurus means for my personality!

      • dawnhosking September 16, 2013 at 9:54 am #

        yes, that would be interesting 😉

  3. currankentucky September 16, 2013 at 10:39 am #

    Hahahaha I’m laughing my socks off!!!! Honestly, if it weren’t for mindfulness and meditation my body would be headed down a track of complete craziness. I love the three cake making idea! I used to do that, not with the cake making but with house cleaning, if I knew a visitor was coming id pull the sweeping brush out and be whacked during their visit, pointless, as if they even looked at my floor and if I really wanted it cleaned I could have asked them to help me out! Such silliness!! I’ve had to learn the hard way and am still learning!

    • myjourneythrume September 16, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

      Very glad I made you laugh 🙂 I used to be the same about cleaning, I have managed to get that under control. I’m so much calmer and mellower than I used to be – scary how crazy I must have been before mellowing!!

  4. Siobhán September 16, 2013 at 11:33 am #

    Thank you for that post it was like reading my own thought patterns out loud so you’re far from alone with this. It’s true that having CFS and Fibro alters your way of thinking as you constantly weigh up situations and possible effects of activity etc. As regards the house chores I was so like that but I had an epiphany one time visiting in-laws when I noticed that that same level of pre-visit crazy cleaning wasn’t implemented before my visit! Granted they are still working and busy and maybe don’t have the same amount of time looking at ‘things to be done’ as I do but I also realised I didn’t care and it in no way impacted the enjoyment of my visit so it was a pleasure to let it all go. Now as for CAKE that’s a different matter entirely……mmmmmm still slightly obsessed with cake and am really quite ok with that. Siobhán

    • myjourneythrume September 16, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

      I think a cake obsession is totally healthy (as she stuffs another piece into her mouth!) I’m sorry to hear you have this to deal with too, but it is nice to know you relate and I’m not the only crazy one!! I have mellowed a lot,as it sounds like you have done too, especially relating to cleaning. I used to be super neurotic about it (think Monica from Friends but more) but I have managed/ had to let that go, and I’m much happier as a result. Still enough other obsessive craziness to keep me busy tho!! Thank you for reading and commenting, lovely to hear your thoughts.

      • Siobhán September 17, 2013 at 9:25 am #

        Haha my friends used to call me Monica too !

      • myjourneythrume September 17, 2013 at 9:36 am #

        That made me laugh! So glad I’m not the only one!

  5. Adam September 16, 2013 at 1:28 pm #


    When I had CFS I was very obsessive about things. A way I got over of it was picturing the thing I was obsessing about, then making it really small and distant. This enables it to feel less significant for you and will help calm your nervous system! I’m learning this on my NLP Practitioner course now.

    With ME/CFS they are also two personality types who seem to be much more prone to getting the condition. The High Achiever and The Helper – mine was certainly the high achiever!

    Anyway, great blog! Hope that little NLP trick helps!


    • myjourneythrume September 16, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

      Hi Adam, thanks for reading and commenting. Thank you for that technique I shall add it to my NLP arsenal. I’m definitely a high achiever, people pleaser etc all the typical CFS types!You say ‘when I had CFS’ so I presume you’re recovered? Congrats! Interesting you’re doing NLP practitioner training, that’s something I’ve been thinking of doing when I’m well.

      • Adam September 17, 2013 at 11:54 am #

        Hi Jess,

        I’m not 100% recovered, but I’m very close!! Of course, everyone is different, but I found taking an integrative approach of daily meditation, yoga (Beat Fatigue With Yoga is a great DVD!), nutrition (going high protein), and most importantly REST (lying down and being present, and not worrying about the past or future) all contributed to the change in my state. I used to be completely bed-ridden.

        It’s great that you are thinking of doing NLP training when you’re well! I’d definitely recommend The Optimum Health Clinic, as they specialise in training people in NLP, Hypno, Life Coaching, and EFT, who have had ME/CFS.

      • myjourneythrume September 17, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

        Hi Adam, I love that DVD and I love yoga! I went on fiona’s weekend retreat last year which was good tho draining. I follow a similar approach, nutrition is central along with rest meditations, pacing and NLP. So good to hear you’re doing so well 🙂

      • Adam September 17, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

        Hi Jess,

        It’s great you’re doing all those things, you’re on the right track! It’s also good to stay present for as much of the time as possible. Meditation is good for this. It’s great at calming the nervous system down as it stops those anxious thoughts about the past/future.

        I hope you pursue the NLP path, as I think you’d make a very good therapist in the future 🙂


      • myjourneythrume September 17, 2013 at 7:52 pm #

        Awh thanks Adam 🙂 I just feel that when I get through this I want to use everything I’ve learned to help others get through it. Just need to get better first!

  6. Joy H Selak September 16, 2013 at 4:08 pm #

    I’d only say, be careful of blaming the victim, suffering is suffering and deserves compassion, from the sufferer herself as well as others.

  7. thehomeschoolingdoctor September 16, 2013 at 6:56 pm #

    Can’t see what you’d be talking about. (JOKE.)

  8. Trisha September 17, 2013 at 5:10 am #

    My mind runs away with me like that too sometimes! It’s like my brain gets hyperactive or something. I wear myself just by thinking about what I need to do, then I don’t have the energy to do it. I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one!

    • myjourneythrume September 17, 2013 at 8:00 pm #

      Hyperactive is the perfect word for my brain! You’re definitely not the only one, there seems to be lots of us!

  9. E. Milo September 17, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

    Ahhhhh! Ditto! My Mum is visiting from Ireland and she was going to help me make some recipes. I have literally researched which dessert (made with the dates I bought ages ago) I would like her help with every day for weeks without committing to one! And I also obsessively plan when to change the bed clothes. I shit you not, I had the same conversation in my head yesterday about whether we should wait for the day the cleaners come. !!!

    • myjourneythrume September 17, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

      I can not tell you how much I am grinning sat here reading your comments! I am so happy and relieved that it is not just me that does these whacko crazy things! But given how many of us are like this who are also ill with ME/CFS I really think its more than mere coincidence and totally to do with the illness. Blame the ME is my motto!! My other half will be so happy to hear he is not the only male out there getting berated about laundry! Tho as you say over time i have mellowed on that one. Hope the cooking sessions go well 🙂 and you have wonderful visit with your mum 🙂

  10. BONNIE JOHNSON September 19, 2013 at 7:53 am #


    • myjourneythrume September 19, 2013 at 9:05 am #

      We definitely have too much time to think and plan! People don’t appreciate how a little thing like the bedding is a mammoth task to energy deprived ME/CFS sufferers. Thank you as always for reading and commenting.


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