She can’t stop talking about her problems

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I am driving my boyfriend and myself crazy because I can’t stop talking about my own mental health issues. I am constantly analyzing, analyzing, analyzing, and then before I even realize what I’m doing I’m asking for my boyfriend’s input on my problem and why it’s there, what to do to change it, how much it upsets me, whether we’re going to be okay or not, whether he thinks it’s going to impact my life in terrible ways or not. And then I say, “I know I’m talking about this way too much. I’ll shut up now.” But then, 10 minutes later, I’m talking about it again. And then I say the same thing — “Sorry, I’ll shut up now.” I can’t even sit through movies without thinking about it. My whole day my mind wanders to my issues.

I try to distract myself, but a lot of times, nothing else even interests me and I can’t keep my focus. My mind just keeps wandering back to my problems. But constantly analyzing my problems, I feel, makes my problems stay my problems.

I just got out of a 7-month stint of therapy. I lost insurance so I can’t afford to go back and my new work schedule prevents me from seeking treatment anyway (9-5, M-F). Besides, I feel like going to a therapist again would just feed into this problem. That’s what always happens. After I finish therapy, I am usually more stuck in my head than I was before. But I like therapy. It’s like an addiction, talking about this stuff over and over. I tried to explain this to my therapist but she wasn’t very helpful, or maybe I didn’t explain myself very well. What IS this problem, anyway? Is this a part of my OCD?

Last night was really, really bad (all night long, it was all I could talk about, even though I was clearly being annoying), and I’m afraid my boyfriend will leave me if I don’t cut it out.

HELP ME!

A: This has to be sooo frustrating. Despite your best efforts, you haven’t been able to manage this on your own. You may be right on target thinking that what you are experiencing is a symptom of OCD. Many people mistakenly think that OCD is only about hand washing or checking things over and over or putting things obsessively in order. But OCD has many forms and differs from individual to individual. In some people, and maybe for you, it takes the form of repetitive, unwanted thoughts. It’s certainly worth getting an evaluation to see if this applies to you.

All therapy is not alike. If you’re right that OCD is the culprit, going over your childhood experiences or analyzing your current situation probably isn’t going to help. If that’s the diagnosis, I would suggest a two-pronged approach: See a psychiatrist about some medication (yes, there is medication that helps tone down OCD) and find a cognitive behavioral therapist who can teach you about “thought stopping.” You live in a very big city. I’m reasonably certain that you can find a clinic that offers a sliding fee scale and that has evening and weekend hours.

I hope you follow through, both for your own sake and the sake of your relationship. Your boyfriend has been terrific so far but I agree, if you don’t start to handle your problem differently, he could start to wonder if he wants to sign on for a lifetime of listening to your issues.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Jul 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). She can’t stop talking about her problems. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/07/06/she-cant-stop-talking-about-her-problems/