For a long time I thought I had some minor amount of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but after listening to a recent podcast I think I have a touch of Hypervigilance.
The podcast was the Adam and Dr. Drew Show. Jessica and I were listening on the way to Irene’s viewing, which was an odd thing.
She is being cremated and never wanted a viewing, but members of her family insisted, so her daughter Rebecca gave in. Since she wasn’t being buried, she didn’t have a casket. Instead, she lied on a table covered in a quilt, with a block of wood to support the neck and keep the head looking up and straight.
When we got there Dad was sitting up front and to the side, obviously in tears. But he composed himself and gave me and Jessica big hugs. We were here for him, not that weird thing on the table, and I could tell it meant a lot to dad. We stayed for 30 minutes before going off in search of the last Rax in West Virginia so I could eat a BBC.
But back to the podcast, Adam Carolla was talking about how he fired his pool man because he would repeatedly throw the pool thermometer in the water without tethering it, so it would constantly get stuck in the filter.
In Adam’s mind he shouldn’t have to tell the pool man to tether the thermometer. It has a tab on top meant for being tied to something. And the thermometer had been tethered at one time and came loose. The pool man had just never re-tethered it. Everytime Adam fished the thermometer out of the trap he would place it on top so the pool man would know to tether it.
Adams has Hypervigilance. In Adam’s mind it was obvious that the thermometer was supposed to be tethered. It had been tethered, so Adam didn’t understand why the pool man wouldn’t just tie it back up. It was the man’s job. The thermometer is supposed to be tethered so that it’s getting an accurate pool temperature, something it can’t do it it is always being caught in the filter or trap. Adam didn’t feel that was a conversation he even ought to have with a paid professional, so he fired him.
Merriam-Webster defines Hypervigilance like so:
…the condition of maintaining an abnormal awareness of environmental stimuli…
People with Hypervigilance are constantly looking around, constantly observing – knowingly or unknowingly looking for threats. Things that are obvious to people with Hypervigilance may not be obvious to others. We notice every little thing. We imagine multiple scenarios.
I say “we,” but I have no idea if I have this. Doctors say it’s often a byproduct of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, though I don’t know why I’d have that. My childhood wasn’t always roses, but I don’t believe it was any more traumatic than anyone else’s. But if I did have Hypervigilence it would explain so much.
Here is a good example. Several weeks ago I was about to hop in the shower before work. As I got near the tub, I saw a random wash cloth hanging on the towel rack above the tub.
According to Jessica, my reaction was similar to someone asking their girlfriend if they were cheating.
“Jessica, where did this wash cloth come from?”
I wasn’t having a freak-out, but I was confused. That rack is where we put towels while we’re showering. I had never seen a wash cloth placed there. Was it used for the body, or was it used to clean the tub. I had no idea whether to put it on the towel rack by the sink or on the edge of the tub. We had lived together for six months and that was the first time there was a wash cloth there.
I didn’t mind that it was there, but I needed to know why it was there because that would determine if I could move it and where I could move it.
After listening to Adam now complaining about his maid unplugging the charging station to plug a vacuum cleaner in and not re-plug the charging station back in, Jessica starting laughing uncontrollably.
“Steven, this is you!”
And I got to thinking about it and starting laughing too. It just might be.
I’ll say this: if I have Hypervigilance it explains why I was a pretty good journalist. It also explains why I’m good at my job now, which involves monitoring RSS feeds, Google searches, Facebook, and Twitter feeds.
I could think of far worse mental issues to have.