(For new readers: Adventures in Zombieland is a series on my experiences with mental illness. Two years ago I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and generalised anxiety disorder, and eight months ago I was diagnosed with hyperacusis. We call it Zombieland because dealing with these disorders is much like walking through the land of the living dead. Perhaps the exploration might help with the healing.)
you may have noticed that i have been absent on twitter & six impossible things for the past few days.
something has happened. it is a very, very difficult thing - one which i have been trying to process on my own over the past week, in whatever meagre fashion that i can.
but also: one that i think, now, i am ready to speak about in public. (if only in lowercase letters, because the sharpness of proper capitalisation is not something i am ready to face at the moment.)
last saturday, i had a psychiatrist appointment.
it was a rather routine meeting - simply to check up on my new depression medication, which has been causing slight issues with dizziness + insomnia. but, other than that, certainly nothing to worry about. until: why do you keep picking at your wrists? my doctor asked.
and me: i don't know. it just comforts me.
can you stop? he said, and sounded far more concerned this time.
no. i could not.
more questions: how do you think about symmetry? i need symmetry. i need the perfection in order. and stories: more than once i have handed in a blank math test because the first question asked for a graph - one that i had to draw & erase & redraw, one that i could not render perfectly enough to move onto the next question. i cannot write poetry where the lines are uneven; all of the edges must line up. i despise disorganisation so much that i throw away papers with real value & importance, simply because there is far too much anxiety associated with keeping them. often when i see a state of chaos, i pick at my wrists until they are raw & red & bleeding. i cannot write on unlined paper, because i must erase everything & rewrite it if the lines are not perfectly straight across the page, or if the spaces between paragraphs are not exactly the same.
my psychiatrist looked very, very worried indeed.
to cut a long & painful story short, i have obsessive-compulsive disorder.
this should not change a thing, i know. the symptoms remain the same, & there is nothing of import here except a new name, a new label to attach to these things i have been feeling.
but still. it hurts. i do not want to have another disorder to call my own.
some days i feel as if i collect mental illnesses the way i collect words. depression. anxiety. hyperacusis. ocd. all monsters that have settled in my mind, made a home out of already too-crowded brain space. i do not know what the word normal could ever entail, but now more than ever i wish i had a hope of experiencing it. anything is better than yet another battle to fight.
i admit: i do not know what comes next from here. it took months before i was able to write about depression & anxiety, and even now, it feels too early to attempt to create a beautiful thing out of this new mess.
mostly i am just straining my eyes, trying to see what life looks like with ocd. leaning over the edge of the canyon, standing on tiptoes at the brink of a great, wide abyss, stretching for a glimpse of what lies in the darkness beyond the comfort of what i know.
it is a new void to jump into. and i do not know what unique challenges it will bring.
i have been grieving, i think, for something i can't yet qualify or explore. not normality, nor happiness, because if we are being truly honest, i never possessed either one.
but something bigger than both. something bright & radiant, winking out in the ever-growing black, gone before i can even learn its name.