See that hole there, in my eyebrow? I did that. It's a habit that started in college when I was up late writing papers. A quick Google search shows that this is a thing. (Update: there's a name! Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors. Thought to fall under the umbrella of OCD, from what I understand. It sounds terrible and I feel fortunate not to have dealt with anything major. "BFRBs are among the most poorly understood, misdiagnosed, and undertreated groups of disorders," according to this).
After watching me rub my eyebrow throughout an entire episode of Law & Order (dunDUN) this week, my boyfriend asked why I was anxious. I didn't have an answer. There wasn't any one thing I could put my finger on that I was worried about at the moment.
So I tried to explain it like this. (Bear with me.)
You know how you have like a certain baseline that's your regular mood? Picture it sounding like this: buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum. A smooth, low pitch, steady like a heart beat.
Well if your baseline is a nice low buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum at any given resting point, mine is a much higher beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep. A frenetic, high frequency sound wave flitting back and forth like a fly stuck between the windowpane and the screen.
|Graphic from the Soundproofing Company|
Test out the difference between four hundred hertz and a thousand. Sometimes my thoughts follow right in line. Other times, I don't even notice it; I can't put a specific face to the worry. It's just there. My body carries it for me when my mind doesn't.
Sometimes it's a gap in my left arch. It's my jaw popping after continuous teeth gnashing throughout the night and into the day. It's my shoulders setting up camp where my earrings should be.
When I catch myself, I can mindfully slide my tongue between my teeth to stop the grinding. I can melt my muscles down for a moment so my shoulders can slide back home. But then three minutes later, I find myself doing it all over again.
So that's what it's like a lot of the time. Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.
And that, my friends, is SCIENCE.