I wouldn't recommend self-diagnosing O.C.D. in Indigo at age 18. But that's where my feet took me years ago on a life changing day.
Flash back a week before the "book" store, in my room, on my bed, searching for the first time for clues about my intrusive thoughts. You would think I was Googling "how to cook meth" with how thoroughly I wiped my history. I thought someone would discover the chain of searches, declare me insane and lock me up.
I wasn't afraid of incarceration though; my fear addled brain believed that could keep other people safe from me. I was really afraid of loneliness. Of abandonment. Of modern day exile.
The "threat" of banishment always perplexed me as a kid. In Romeo and Juliet, after Romeo kills Tybalt, he is sentenced to banishment. Romeo responds:
"Ha, banishment! Be merciful, say “death,”
For exile hath more terror in his look,
Much more than death. Do not say “banishment.”
"Why not just live somewhere else? That doesn't sound so bad." I quaintly thought. I did not equate my own capital D Drama of fearing ostracism from my family with Romeo cursing the world. In hindsight, my belief that my family would disown me is as ridiculous as Romeo's reaction to his sentence.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say the major tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is in fact a limited capacity to see many paths through crises. I guarantee you the first fear based option your brain fixates on is never the only option. (Not saying it needs a rewrite: I love R+J, you rule Shakesey-babeeeey.)
In Indigo my furtive flybys finally landed me in front of books with ways forward I hadn't been able to conceive alone. I was desperate and exhausted and it led me to seek knowledge. I reached for the title "Coping with O.C.D." and found the chapter called "My thoughts are driving me crazy!"
As I read the description of my exact lived experience (!!!), I felt something release in my heart. It had been so long that I had forgotten what relief could feel like. I didn't realize I had options because up until then I hadn't looked for them. I had just accepted my fate.
When you have to be your own guide it takes a lot longer to figure things out. This blog is my hand up to those who have less resources than me to find a way forward. If I had never been taught unconditional love by my parents I might never have believed I was worth the answers I needed. This is my unconditional love letter to you and your beautiful brain, whatever gifts it contains.
You have to approach your health education as you would any other skill. That means realizing you have reached as far as you can on your own and making a small change to embrace other options. Maybe there's a universe where Romeo and Juliet took a minute and explored different paths with better advice from better sources. (Again, no re-writes. The play is near perfect.)
My acknowledgment of my rut took me to circle the self-help section like a teenager buying condoms for the first time: desperate, sweating, and horrified to be seen by someone I knew.
So although I wouldn't recommend self-diagnosing (later confirmed with a psychiatrist) in the self-help section of Indigo as a first choice, now I know I would walk in there, arms akimbo with full Gaston swagger and declare "Where are the books on mental illness?! I think I have one of those! Lead on good underpaid squire!"
You can do it. You're braver than you know. Go get those condoms... I mean books! Hehehe.
(And also, for fucks sake, don't stab yourself until you're 1000% sure the love of your life isn't just in a poisoned sleep. INFORMED. DECISIONS.)
(I'm 27 and I still hate buying condoms. Does it ever feel less embarrassing?! Sex positive yet bashful: great combo.)
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