Fixation and Mental Health

Author Note: This article is part of a collection from the previously lost Bordering Bears website, and has thus been re-uploaded and archived.

As we have discussed before, people with mental health conditions exhibit symptoms in different ways. Today I wish to discuss fixation with you. This may involve an object, action, event, or even a person.

These fixations can be minor, but they can also be incredibly unhealthy. For example, having to knock on a door a certain number of times could be seen as a fixation. This, while repetitive, is unlikely to cause any harm.
Opposing this, a fixation on a past event that stops a person from sleeping or engaging in their usual day-to-day activities is unhealthy.

Fixation on People

With BPD, this is often the case with the “Favourite Person”. While I am often insecure, looking at the meaning of this, I am fairly certain that I do not exhibit this symptom, so cannot give a lived experience.

In short, the BPD Favourite Person is a person whom the Borderling relies on for emotional gratification. This person will be the object of both adoration and hatred. According to some, they feel intense jealousy when their FP spends time with others, including their own family.

While a FP can be a good thing in terms of support, it isn’t necessarily healthy when you rely on that person’s presence for your emotional wellbeing.

But Ver, you love Ash, right? I can hear you saying it. Loving someone is not the same as depending on them for emotional validity. From what I gather, there is a huge difference between anxious insecurity, which requires reassurance, and the amount of pressure put on the FP. This can get to a point where the FP is the only person in the Borderling’s life.

Instead, it is important that you have a healthy balance. Both people should be able to spend time with others, both family and friends, without concern, for a healthy and mutual relationship.

Fixated Actions

Sometimes, people feel a need to repeat or act on impulses to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

One example of this, as shown below, could be Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. He feels the need to always knock the same way. Three knocks, then the person’s name, repeated three times. In one episode, where he only completed two, he then added a third on the open door simply to restore his equilibrium.

Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory

Actions such as this tend to not cause obvious severe problems, however for people who struggle with impulses, these may be detrimental.

Addiction to an action can be especially problematic for people who struggle with impulsive behaviour. For those who self harm or have other illnesses, such as an eating disorder, these repetitive actions can become detrimental very quickly.

Fixation of Events

This is one I know all too well. How often have you thought about a situation afterwards and regretted an action, or lack of? With mental health, this can sometimes be exacerbated.

We might focus on an event and replay it countless times in our heads, thinking on things we should have said, or if the relationship is irreparable. This can carry on for years.

For example, I often am kept awake at night upset at times I argued with my parents as a child, over 20 years ago, or about what may have caused the loss of my signet ring or DS. These seem insignificant to most people, but can become overwhelming for the person struggling with the event.

Fixation on events can be particularly problematic for people who have not worked through their emotions regarding said event. This is why it is always important to allow yourself time to decompress and compartmentalise.

Taking the time to grieve a being or object, as well as to acknowledge the emotions you are feeling and, if applicable, consider how to alter your actions, is vital to maintaining good emotional health and being able to let go of problematic periods.

Fixation of an Object

We briefly touched on this with events surrounding objects. Losing something is not a comfortable feeling for any of us, but for those with mental health problems, or emotional attachment, it can become traumatic.

Attachment to an object tends to start in childhood. Many of us had a well-loved toy or blanket that we couldn’t sleep without. As we grow, most people lose this attachment. For some of us, we still put a lot of weight on emotional attachment to objects.

It is difficult but, like with events, it is important to work through these to be able to properly regulate your emotions and avoid becoming emotionally reliant on an object.

Overall, a fixation isn’t inherently bad. If it is causing problems in your life, it might be beneficial to seek external support.

As for me, I shall continue working through my issues regarding objects and previous events to try to improve my emotional regulation even further.

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