HBNW OCD FAQ aka “My Private Showbiz Battle with Anxiety”

"Game with a Brain"  Rhymes with "Insane", hence this delightful picture...

“Game with a Brain” Rhymes with “Insane”, hence this delightful picture…

 

It’s been a while since my last spew of bile but I’m back for a one off Mental Health Awareness Special. For those of you who don’t know about this blog I’m a creative ‘has been’ who has had the misfortune of never quite ‘being’ in the first place… Picture an old showbiz lush but without the preceeding career.

 

And what better way to be a Has Been (who Never Was) than to jump on the Mental Health Awareness bandwagon and claim a bona fide mindbrain disfunction in public… The kind of thing that, if I were a tad more famous, would make an incredible double page spread on pages four and five of your average tabloid newspaper… possibly even making the cover of one of those women’s magazines, next to the inevitable picture of one of the Loose Women.

On with my showbiz style ‘outing’, and I claim O.C.D. as the dirty evil in my closet. My Obsessive Compulsive Disorder comes in a package deal with a selection of other issues such as anxiety and depression – a cheeseboard of sadness, if you will. A selection box of tears. An Xbox One style bundle deal of utter frustration, containing a few larger items of note along with a host of other crap that no-one really wants or needs.

Today I spent the afternoon tenderly wiping the backside of a Blu Ray in the hope that it would just behave and shine properly. When I say the afternoon, I don’t mean that I literally spent all afternoon doing it – that would be insane. No – some of the afternoon was spent lying down, crying a bit and trying not to wipe my shiny bottom… as it were.

I often hear people knowingly suggesting that ‘we all have OCD’… that they have a certain way of pegging out the washing, for example… that they really do get quite annoyed if their whatnots and nick-nacks aren’t arranged ‘just so’. While there’s some truth in that notion, when it comes to scale, real sufferers of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder become consumed by their anxiety to the point of incredible inner turmoil. Take myself for example…

Let’s say that I become anxious that a new Blu Ray has a scratch on the underside, meaning that at some time in the future it may refuse to play. My obsessional thought might compel me to to check the disc again and again, shining it against various sources of light at varying angles, in order to find a fault. Herein lies a trap – by looking so intensely for a problem, I will often find one. In other words, in attempting to alleviate the obsession through some compulsive behaviour, I end up creating more anxiety and a cycle is formed. More checking means more anxiety, which means more checking… and so on…  To be clear, this is not a mere frustration – at the height of an OCD incident this process of ruminating and checking can cause serious levels of debilitation as the work of thinking about the issue at hand takes over from dealing with life in general.  In computing terms, it’s like that bit when Faecebook crashes just when you’re about to post an incredibly witty and insightful observation… a tiny little subroutine within your mobile phone going around and around endlessly, preventing you from looking cool in front of all your ‘internetz chumz’… all usefulness lost in a system crash.

These raised levels of stress are often accompanied by a creeping knowledge deep down that the fears I am having may be irrational. There’s a sense of shame too, that the level of anxiety is way too high for the issue at hand. This creates a sense of self loathing on top of the anxiety – after all, it’s only a Blu Ray…

At this point, one might encounter a ‘helpful soul’ who shakes his or her head and says… “…it’s only a Blu Ray”. They may even suggest an easy, ‘off the peg’, normal solution. How about “If it’s broken, take it back to the shop” or “It’ll be fine. Stop worrying!” To this person I’d like to say a hearty thankyou. You’ve just confirmed to me that, yes, I am an idiot and I really should pull myself together. Already feeling the shame, one is tempted to bury all the feelings, hide the compulsions and never speak of this madness again. This is why OCD – real OCD – is sometimes called the hidden illness. It’s called this because we’re already feeling enough shame and don’t really want to risk having that sense of foolishness consolidated by people who can’t see the mind numbing sickness of the ever decreasing circles that our brains force us to create.  At times, I have to remember that OCD is not something that I ‘choose’.   OCD is an illness.  While there are ways to correctly treat the condition (and therefore one can choose to fight it with the right weapons), there’s still a sense of being fractured somewhere.  Ignoring the break or passing it off as a silly nothing does the OCD sufferer as much good as it would do the unfortunate tobogganist with a knackered bone poking through the leg of his ski pants.

One also gets the occasional person who, with a kind heart, wants to unburden me with life’s pressures so that I can cope with the OCD issue at hand. Because that’s what I need, right ? More time on my hands and more space in my head to ruminate on that ruddy shiny disc! I sometimes feel that I’m not asked to do other things sometimes because I’ve got ‘far too much on my plate’. It’s at these times that I perhaps need to do something… anything… else… other than rubbing a piece of shiny plastic as if it were some kind of horny genie lamp that loved the soft touch of a befuddled nutcase but that refused to give up the ghost within.

It’s not just shiny discs that cause these spikes of anxiety and circles of despair… It’s other, secret, hidden things that the world would see as simple to fix but become so very desperately hard for me to grapple with… things that make shame burn and make me want to end the internal suffering with whatever is to hand… alcohol’s a good ‘un, especially now that the bottles are screw topped and I won’t have to worry about bits of cork in my wine… I’m like that, you know… a bit of a worrier!

So why write about it here ? If it helps one person understand… and that person shares the story… and so on… then the whole thing might go viral and I can finally get that cover story in Woman’s Own – maybe even have a chance to nuzzle up to Philip Schofield on This Morning. I have a suitably angst ridden look for the piccies and I can cry on demand.

On a more serious note, if this is the hidden disease, then by putting it out in the open it becomes less hidden.

If I’ve coaxed you into reading this and you don’t understand why these things cause so much trauma then you’ve just entered my head for five minutes. Welcome to my world. I hope you took off your shoes when you came in – there’s a lot of dog poo outside and you may have stepped in some. I won’t degrade myself by getting on my knees and sniffing the floor… until you’ve gone, of course…

I hope that, ultimately, you’ve seen that OCD isn’t all that I am – I’m a likeable, witty, frustrated, creative genius that ‘would have been great on the telly back in the day’ but who festers, twisted and cynical, sneering at the edutainmeat culture that brought us Britain’s Got Talent, while we true creatives wallow in the vinegar of our own impotent fury…

In other words, let’s not forget the happier things in life…

 

© Nova Amiko and The Has Been Who Never Was 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nova Amiko and The Has Been Who Never Was with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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