You may think it strange, or simply irresponsible, to write about mental illness from the outside. But I have developed a compulsion to write. From the inside. And from this stammerous, self-prattifying exchange on facebook:
Originator: I can now confirm I have OCD 🙂
Someone likes this.
P: How many times can you confirm it ?
O: Nowhere near enough times ……
Q: I would comment but I must go and check I haven’t left my gas ring on and lock my back door…
[insert Harry Hill chortle at this point]
R: I got most of my OCD’s at school. English and the Humanities, although I did fail Maths spectacularly…
S: Ive got it too, ive got it too, ive got it too, ive got it to, ive got it too, ive got it too
U: And me
U: And me
U: And me
T: I’ve decided you are my new best friend. we can do everything together from now on, forever and ever.
This saddened me. Made me gasp and hold my breath. Reddened me.
I am supposed to like my new facebook friend. But I am more than a little bit sick of the pretense now.
It was bad enough when fb stood for ‘fuck-buddy’ – and those tossers never made the finishing line either…
Apparently, face book is all about good-natured fun.
Fun? Spurting all over other people’s pretend lives. With apparent oblivion, selecting the happier, funnier and angrier moments of their own fishfinger existence, then shitting them out as mono-syllabic pellets into the mouths of whoever has the misfortune to be in their ‘feed’.
To counter the moronic facebook exchange, I feel it necessary to give space to OCD. Because both predictive text, (which opts for MAD), and seemingly the rest of the world, misunderstand it.
I hold shares in mental illness. I probably should have studied psychology at university. But I don’t like to pay for my privileges. So to conduct research, I befriend psychologists on dating websites, and sleep with my own patients for free. And I develop a deeper knowledge of the subject.
So much so, that on explaining my understanding of depression to a near-suicidal ex, he paused for a moment to look deeper inside me: ‘It’s you – isn’t it?’
I find myself defending mental illness with increasing frequency. Those near to it will understand this requirement only too well.
Because when you are near to someone with the nuts, you get to experience it from outside of them, inside of them, and through them. What a vortex. Screw rollercoasters.
And in all of their obsessions you are invited as guest-voyeur-participant. Leading you to dance like a banshee, develop an irrational fear of hi-vis jackets, or jump through the crammed west end at Christmas landing only on the cracks.
Not to mention experiencing their compulsory obsession with you – and love is already a madness. A fun madness.
OCD, a madness that must be defended.
The last guy with OCD I got involved with told me about it early on.
“Damn”, I grumbled, “I’ll have to get the book out again”.
My academic journal of mental illnesses.
A wonderful book: when read as theory it all makes perfect, logical, sense. You think, ‘yup, tick, fair enough’, after all, if you can explain a condition in writing it must be curable.
But when read frantically after someone’s had an episode at you, the words fire a more sinister cannon.
And the words say,
‘Do NOT become complicit with someone else’s OCD. Though it may be easier to indulge than to stand-off, don’t do it. It will only make their condition worse.’
OCD is a tough one to beat. Weighing up whether to have it go on forever and ever – your comfort, your staff in the storm, your safe prison, or whether to painfully let it go, is not an easy call.
And there’s the crutch – you don’t WANT to let this mental illness go – after all it is not one of your friends, it is your one and only friend. And it certainly is NOT a facebook friend. It is only a matter of time before OCFD trends. (Obsessive compulsive facebook disorder). They’ll be laughing on the other side of their nonchalant faces then, won’t they?
And, like all real friendships, every relationship with OCD is completely individual and different.
And though OCD can well mean an obsession with numbers, or a compulsion to repeat movements, it’s different in every individual’s case. None of us are the same.
So, joe public, do quit frigging on about the bloody gas, I wash my hands of you. And before swine flu, only those with OCD were washing their hands properly, so stick that in your subway sandwich.
And, being more sharp-witted than any handful of joes, people with OCD see more than the funny side. So please, online world, stop tarring people with your dead-end brain-fearing brushes, and develop enough awareness and intelligence to at least make up proper jokes……