When I become scared of something, my first instinct is to learn as much as I can on the topic. I become a woman obsessed. I empty libraries, spend hundred of hours on google reading articles and scholarly publications, etc.
I did this as a child even before google was an option. I was terrified of tornadoes and thunderstorms, so I read everything I could get my hands on about the weather. If it scared me, I had to learn about it.
When I was (re)diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at 28, this streak in me held true. I was attending a university that happened to have a medical school (I was not a medical student), but I spent hours at the medical library reading as many things about my newly diagnosed condition as I could. I requested books from all over the country. I followed citation after citation like some wild goose chase just trying to feel like I had a handle on what was happening to me.
This behavior has a heavy price, however. I can trick myself into thinking that I am an expert after all of that and that no one has any ability to Enlighten me with any new information. In truth, I’m afraid that they will because then it seems like all of my research will have been in vain.
I can be a difficult patient then, because I sometimes think I know everything there is to know. I’m always stunned when I find out that is not the case.
There is truth in the phrase, “…knows enough to be dangerous.”
I know that the research “know-it-all” part of me is just seeking a sense of control in what feels like an uncontrollable situation. I spew facts because they seem like the only tangible thing in an intangible world. I did it as a child when I felt afraid of people and of things. It was a way to defend myself. I do it now to defend myself against the unknowns of life. To try to force them into knowingness.
It rarely works.