Rios has told me often that I should write about my OCD, that it would probably help the symptoms. That could be true, but I haven’t done it a whole lot out of embarrassment. How do you explain to people that you’re paralyzed day in and day out because you think that a thought you had has influenced the future, and that you will be doomed to live that future out unless you, I don’t know, go back and step on a leaf, or kick a rock, or touch a light switch?
It’s fucking mortifying. All I really want to do in life is write and create, and for the past decade or so I’ve been stuck in this pit of mental illness, with it really ramping up since about 2014 on into the past four years. I suppose mental illness is the default state for most people on the planet, and particularly in this country, which makes it even harder to talk about. I’m not suicidally depressed, I don’t have an eating disorder, I’m not schizophrenic…I’m just completely enslaved to my thoughts.
There is a quality of something “feeling real” that feels more real than reality. It is instantaneous and physical. I will be walking through my kitchen, and my foot will graze over an imperfection in the floor, and an image will flash in front of my mind. This image contains an entire world of portent: I will become hated by everyone who knows me, the people I love will die. I make Pascal’s Wager every five minutes or so: I engage in a small ritual (in this case, walking backwards and rewalking over the imperfection “correctly”) because, well, what if it’s true? The feeling certainly felt true. Sometimes it’s a tactile hallucination. There is an “itch” on the spot that I walked over “incorrectly,” and it can’t be “scratched” until I do.
For someone outside of this illness, the answer to the problem is simple: simply do not perform the action. As with everything true (and this is true, this is what they do in cognitive behavioral therapy) it is easier said than done. Imagine someone standing there holding a gun to your mother’s head, telling you to walk over that imperfection again, but this time “correctly.” It would be funny, how ridiculous it is, if it didn’t happen hundreds of times a day.
I am at the point where I can no longer continue to suffer from this illness. I got rid of my depression through exercise and supplementation, but the OCD stuck, and continues to stick. It is an actual presence in my life, a being that follows me around, or more accurately lives inside my head. The process of ignoring it is going to be extremely frightening, but it has to start today.
Because I want to write. And I want to create. And I want to make sure that my son has the best life possible. All of these things require time, and I can’t have the time to do them if I’m spending that much time stuck in obsessive compulsive loops.
So I will be breaking down the illness into its constituent parts and tackling them one at a time. Are thoughts real? Is the thing inside my head a demon? Is it simply serotonin disregulation? Is there any correlation between my thoughts and reality? Is Pascal’s Wager a good way to live? Do rituals actually accomplish anything?
All of this is uncomfortable for me, but I do appreciate my readership’s patience over the next few weeks/months/years. I’ll blog about fun stuff, too, but I need to exorcise this thing the only way I know how: by writing my way out.