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How Fast & Furious helps me cope with my mental health


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I hyperfixate.

I have since before I even knew what the word meant. It was Scooby Doo as a child, waking up at 6am to watch old episodes of A Pup Named Scooby Doo. It was Supernatural, writing pages and pages of fanfiction. It was Dragon Age Origins, and me immediately hitting replay to go through it again after a three-day gaming session at my friend’s university halls because I refused to accept the ending for how it was.

It’s the fact that when I decided to read more this year, I brought so many books in the span of a month that I filled four shelves on my bookcase and am already thinking of getting another one. It’s the fact that I decided to bullet journal to be creative and get organised, and brought two notebooks – one, because the last one wasn’t good enough – along with dual brush pens because people kept recommending them (I haven’t used them yet. They’re just sitting in my stationary bag – which is a thing I have now – waiting until the best opportunity).

To hyperfixate is a term that means intense focus, a special interest, and it is something that takes over your life in the best and worst ways.

Hyperfixation is my coping mechanism.

I have a lot – as most people do, that chops and changes depending on the situation – but this one is something I do without even realising. It’s just there and it helps.

The most recent one is Fast & Furious.

I watched the fifth movie during a holiday between my second and third year at university and that was it. I couldn’t watch the other movies, so I brought data pack after data pack so that I could scroll through Fanfiction.Net and AO3 and find something to keep this good feeling alive.

When I got home, I immediately bought a boxset of films one-six.

Literally, it was the first thing I did.

And these characters, they grew around me. They made me feel safe and secure and kept me together when I didn’t think I could be.

They let me write and be creative. They taught me about found families and the importance of the people you love being around you.

And why do I – and loads of other people – hyperfixate?

Because it makes life easier.

When things were tough, I could think about all the stuff that went down in the Fast & Furious world and distract myself there. I could come back and be okay if Dom Toretto could lose his father, lash out and end up jail; if he could destroy his own world and still have people love him enough to help heal those wounds.

I would much rather think of these things than think of the fact that I was struggling to go out of the house by myself to pick up food from the Sainsbury’s six minutes down the road.

Or the fact that I was forgetting so many things – phone calls, conversations with housemates, plans I’d made.

Or the fact that I was terrified that this is what my life would be.

I don’t find hyperfixating something to be ashamed of, even if I surround myself with cuddly toys of my favourite superheroes; even if people joke about how much money I’ve spent on books or the Starbucks Seattle iced coffees that I have to drink every day (two - or I don’t feel like I can deal with the day).

It’s a part of my mental illness. Without it, I would struggle to get out bed or leave my house. If this is what I must do – let the things I enjoy consume me – to keep myself from spiralling then I will.

Maybe hyperfixating isn’t something you do. Maybe you know someone who does. Maybe you’ve even teased someone about how much they obsess over something they’ve watched or read or listened to. Maybe it still sounds silly.

Sometimes it feels silly.

But it’s real, and I do it.

It works and that’s all that you need.

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