When I was growing up, my Dad had a gentle but specific way of joking about things he found overwhelming or draining. Whether it was an unpleasant, complicated task, a difficult person, a tiresome event, a frustrating crowd, or just some jumble of information or sensory stimuli, he would make a funny face and say “too much input” in a robotic voice. Sometimes he’d keep going in the robot voice: “Too much input. System overload. Processing….processing…”
It always made me laugh, and I always knew exactly what he meant. Today, my siblings and I say “too much input” to describe things and events in our lives, especially frazzled emotional and mental states. No robot voice needed—it’s now such a part of our family’s colloquialisms that everyone, including Dad, says it in a regular voice.
There are a LOT of weird phrases employed by my family, but I digress.
So, the other night I was researching various health topics online until four in the morning. Why? Because I need to lose between 100 and 125 pounds and I’ve been fighting binge eating disorder for years now. I have atypical depression. I have hypothyroidism and I worry that I’m pre-diabetic. Therefore, I’m constantly trying to educate myself about nutrition, fitness, autoimmune thyroid disease, weight loss, insulin resistance and diabetes, mental illness, and so forth.
Typical of my marathon reading sessions, one link led to another, one study contradicted another, and I kept going until I was practically cross-eyed with exhaustion and overwhelm. As I stumbled to bed in the early morning hours, I thought “it’s all too. much. input.”
I had to smile to myself, even though I felt miserable. That phrase captures so many elements of my struggle.
Too much input when it comes carbs and calories and crappy processed food.
Too much input when it comes to competing nutritional dogmas, competing health claims, competing talking heads that Believe They Know What’s Best for Everyone.
Too much input when it comes to other people’s demands and expectations in my personal life. When it comes to other people’s influence, period.
And not enough output on my part.
I’m exhausted and overwhelmed. Instead of taking some sustained action, imperfect as it might be, I keep acquiring more and more information. I keep analyzing and obsessing and worrying. My brain is whirring along while my body sits still. The longer I do this, the worse I feel. I’ve decided many things have to change, including my self-imposed silence on the subject of my individual deterioration (a silence which is entirely fear- and shame-based, for the record).
I’ve gone back and forth for literally years now on the question of whether or not to start a blog, whether to risk embarrassment and public failure or not. When Too Much Input popped into my weary head a few nights ago, I decided to go for it. So here I am!