Excess All Areas – Part One

I am a creature of excess. When I get involved in an activity that I am passionate about I have to take it to the nth degree. If there is a nth post graduate qualification, or possibly a masters option, then sign me up. I always take it to the limit, to the extreme, to 100% and beyond. Is that even possible? To give over 100%. Answers on a postcard please. I am Mr. Excess All Areas.

In my days of copious alcohol consumption one drink was never enough. Social drinking has always baffled me. Having one beer was pointless as far as I was concerned. I drank to get drunk. Doesn’t everyone? No??! Well who knew. I didn’t even like the taste of it. It was an ends to a means; a way of getting from Point A to Point B as swiftly as possible. Point B was where it was at. I had no problems or worries there. The downside was that the following morning I awoke with a horrific hangover to find I was right back at Point A again. I binged. Then cringed….and winged.

Some years ago I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Order (OCD). This explained a lot. I was largely driven by it. At times I fled it but on other occasions it urged me onwards to new heights. Or depths depending on your perspective. When I run, my default setting is to run long distances. When I have the bit between my teeth at work, I clock up long hours. When I became a Christian in the early days I lived, ate and breathed it. I have an addictive personality. Which is why I avoid PlayStations, scratch cards, heroin and daytime soap operas like the plague.

When I took up a new activity or interest I had to become the best I possibly could at it. There were no half measures. I could never be a lukewarm participant. With me it was either freezing cold or scalding hot. And as we all know exposing yourself to extremes of temperature is a dangerous business. I bolstered what little talent I had in any given field with bucketloads of OCD fuelled determination and stubbornness. It was all or nothing. The secret of my success was excess. It is a fine line between passion and obsession. I still walk that tightrope every day.

I can, and have, become obsessed with just about anything. In order to ensure the integrity and impartiality of this post (he typed pretentiously) I asked Fionnuala to compile a list of 10 things I have become obsessed with down the years. Her initial response was ‘only 10?’ She’s a laugh a minute my wife. Anyway here is her list….

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook (before I discovered Twitter and Instagram), alcohol, work, running, Diet Coke, Tomb Raider (the games and Jolie movies), football, calories, the Game of Thrones cast (primarily all things Stark) Katy Perry (not so keen on the new haircut) the Cheltenham Horse Racing Festival (which is held in March but I started preparing for it the previous November), selfies (hangs head in shame), lying (hangs head even further in shame), being liked by others and being somebody who I am not. In the end I had to tell her to stop. She’s probably still typing.

I see a lot of similar people on WordPress. Their demons drive them to excess. They are damaged souls. Life has gouged great holes in them, gaping wounds. They seek to fill these voids with anything that will allow them to feel again. They are beyond numb for at least numbness is something. They are nothing. They need something, anything to cling onto. Excess is their oxygen. It is what propels them gasping and spluttering above the raging waters of depression and despair. It is life.

It can be anything. Drugs, alcohol, money, power, sex. It can be a person. It can be a possession. Anything. But it must be ramped up to excess. Excess is the common denominator that underpins every story I read. Addiction, Depression, OCD, Anxiety, Anorexia, Bulimia, the list go on. We crave escape, release, freedom. But the demons are clever. They seduce us with their soothing words. They promise the above but in reality they are urging us deeper into the mire of captivity. They lie. The shiny baubles they dangle so tantalisingly in front of us are worthless. It is all superficial. We need to look beyond the bright lights to find the truth.

They are masters of deceit. Yet we fall for it time and time again. One more glass, one more hit, one more purge and all our problems will be gone. Or at least eased. Anything to get away from our drab, dreary realities. There must be more to life than this. We see excess as the swipe card which will allow us access this magical kingdom, this nirvana which we have been so desperately seeking. It is only when we stand on the other side and the veil falls back that we realise we have been duped.

We crave the grave. Not literally (although tragically some are driven down that dark path) but we seek an end to who we have become. I am currently reading ‘How To Murder Your Life’ by Cat Marnell. If you ever read one story of recovery from addiction and mental illness read hers. Hilarious and heartbreaking in equal measure. Brutal, visceral honesty. Searing passion and written in such a frantic, beautiful style.

Sorry I’m obsessing again. Do you see a pattern developing here? But the title says it all. Excess is our weapon of choice. When we survey the crime scenes of our lives we will see it glistening in a pool of our own blood. We are murderers and the victims are our lives. We flee the scene but, despite what we think, we cannot flee ourselves. We wake up and are right back where we started. Excess is a prison not a get out of jail free card. It doesn’t open doors, it builds walls. Between yourself and your loved ones. Between who you are and who you have the potential to be.

It is a double edged sword. A sword that can be wielded for good or harm. My next post will focus on the latter and explore how we can use our excessive, obsessive natures to overcome our demons. We can turn the tables and slay them with their own weapons. And as they lie bleeding at our feet we can finally taste true freedom. A new world where we can live without fear and shame. Just believe. You are within touching distance.

Can you relate to this post?

What are your experiences and thoughts regarding excessive and obsessive behaviour?

19 thoughts on “Excess All Areas – Part One

Add yours

  1. Good thoughts. One must not forget that being obsessive can be positive; it means that you stick to something. The disorder means that you take something else to substitute for that which you are unwilling, or too afraid, to pursue. Addiction is about release from the world. Excess can sometimes be an experiment. Obsession tends to tip over into dangerous waters when it loses its meaning and is just done for the sake to itself. A good habit that turns bad?

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  2. The nursing profession relies on obsessiveness: habitually checking on everything. The doctor, to verify orders. The pharmacist. Look up the drug in the reference book, and then read the drug label three times before administering it. Check on the nurses you supervise, and on ancillary personnel. Check on the patient. And always, always, always washing, washing, washing your hands, until the skin dries, flakes and cracks, and sometimes even sloughs off (if you’re allergic to latex, which is what most gloves were made of when I was in practice, before vinyl and nitrile gloves were available).

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  3. Near the beginning of last year, I had a friend suffer her first panic attack and experience hallucinations. Her fear was so great, and she became obsessed with her health. She didn’t want to believe it was a mental issue. It had to be physically related. She got cat scans, blood work, everything. But she eventually had to face it was indeed a mental problem. I helped her understand causes behind it, and we focused on her past experiences that led up to what she was going through. I hate to say she tells me I helped her a lot more than her therapist (was not a good therapist). She kept wondering if she would ever get better, and I told her, “You will. Look, even if you aren’t where you want to be, you are farther than where you were a few weeks ago, and that’s progress. Every single step matters.” She doesn’t have the same fears or panic attacks, she is doing so much better compared to last year, but she definitely has other issues she needs to deal with.

    People need to talk about this more because it is more common than what many would want to believe. Thank you for sharing!

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  4. This rang true 100% for me. I breathe in access. All too familiar. Thank you. Oh yea, I’m diagnosed OCD, as well. I fell upon the excess realization awhile back …. *sigh*

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      1. I’ve always been this way so I just do small finger tap rituals and try to stay in my own bubble at work. I’ve gotten better with the aggravation part. I used to get easily frustrated. I am also medicated with meds that serve multiple purposes.

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  5. You took the thoughts right out of my brain. Everything I do tends to be in the extreme, I can’t even play a game on my phone without getting sucked in for hours, it’s ridiculous! Can’t wait for part two.

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  6. Relate? Only word for painful word. There is of course hope: Jesus Christ. I have heard it said that we all have a God-shaped hole in our hearts that can only be completely and properly filled by Him. Once we let Him in, we can know His promised peace, and find as much relief as we want from our demons and obsessions.
    I chose those last words carefully, for though I have been completely relieved of the obsession to drink, there are still other dark areas of my life that I chose to hold on to that cause me to struggle.
    Another excellent post, thank you.
    Chuck

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  7. Excess is their oxygen. — this got me…well the whole post did…its very interesting…because the old me related 100%, and over time I’ve lost a lot of my obsessiveness, and yet I still relate on some level…I am now a little wiser today, thank you. I will take in me, and mull it over. There is something still left in me, that has to be so extra. #thankyou

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  8. Your posts are always very thought provoking and helpful. If not for me then perhaps someone I know, but always your readers who are given encouragement and hope. You are being used mightily by our almighty God – thank you for sharing a part of yourself so that others may be helped.

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