This blog is a perfect example of what it means to be hyper-fixated by something but for that to be a passing phase. At the start of the blog, when I first had the idea, spent time researching and had a plethora of ideas, there were frequent posts. These posts covered a range of topics and led to some interesting self-examination. Then the ideas started to dry up. Eventually the ideas stopped. I stopped checking the daily stats and then stopped altogether. I had moved on to something else and then something else.
In people with autism, hyper-fixations often revolve around a topic or idea that is incredibly esoteric. The autistic person knows all that they can about a topic – for some reason trains tends to be the de facto example. The autistic person would know about the history of a particular train, how many times it has crashed, how many had been built and all of that information. I do not give a crap about trains but that is not to say that, one day, I won’t. The hyper-fixation gives the person an anchor in a confusing world. It is a constant that they understand and rely on. For example, while people are often a Gordian knot, the movies of Tom Cruise are fixed.
For me, and I suppose others, though I have not done a survey – maybe I should. How would I get that out? Do people still use Survey Monkey? Twitter might be good for that. Do they have a specific hashtag. Why is it called a hashtag? It used to be the pound sign. Some one has set up a website where you can pay to organise hashtags… This is kind of how information and ideas work in my mind. They collide and I end up looking into something unrelated for an hour or more. I was told that I “get obsessed with something for two weeks” and then “never mention it again”. I don’t know why my mind does this but it has always done it. I get obsessed with story ideas or with TV shows – for example, Married At First Sight Australia. The show was mentioned to me in passing by a friend and then I ended up binge watching two seasons and following them all on social media. Now, I am watching old episodes of the 1994 drama series Sharpe. This is because I saw a clip on Tik Tok, this triggered a memory from the time and now I own a box set. I wanted to read all of Shakespeare and bought some books about the man and the work. But didn’t even finish the first play (though I was derailed a little because of some debate over what canonically counts as his first play).
They are some threads that run through them all. For instance, I am still very fond of the badger and will watch anything with them in. Or read anything about them. Though I wouldn’t go on Mastermind with them as my specialist subject. At the moment in time, I think I am hyper-fixating on losing weight. This is what I spend a fair bit of time thinking about it and checking my weight probably too frequently.
How does this affect my wife? I suppose she has just learnt to ride the wave of my interests and has a practiced “tell me all about it but I don’t care” face. It also feels like I lack any type of long-term focus or work ethic. If I am tasked with doing something and I am not interested in it then I will do a billion and seven other things except the one task I should be doing. It is a pain and makes me look unfocused and potentially unreliable. None are particularly good traits to have. I cannot harness this, possible ADHD, to work because all work is repetition and doing something that you would rather not do. Even the people with their dream jobs would have tasks that they do not love as much as others. For example, a footballer will know that they have it very lucky but sometimes look at the weather and think, “ah fuck that”. Or this just an excuse for incompetence and a lack of effort. I don’t know.
There you have it. Hyper-fixation can be a good thing but my version of passing hyper-fixation is either ADHD or it is a sign of a mind that refuses to settle on anything for any length of time. Many weeks ago, my wife asked if I could take a pill that would make me “normal”, would I take it? She said she would want me to, just to see the world from the perspective of a neuro-typical person. I would if the side effects were permanent. Maybe I won’t feel like that in a few weeks.