OC(ovi)D — 19
There were a few moments as I lay half-conscious where I felt that I could let go of my compulsions. Where I could see the natural order of things: how we as a global civilization are again kicking at the seams of a reality that we cannot control. Pain and suffering are conditions of this world that we believe we can eliminate. I feel that this mentality is perhaps more damaging. We have become so estranged to death. We see it as a force that can be delayed, indefinitely, if we can only correct our behaviour. But what is the secret to longevity? The guidelines of eternal health change with fashions of the educated journals, in the hopes of staving off death to the bitter end.
The entire population of the planet is currently engaged in an attempt to prevent its death. It is the death of our way of life, and perhaps even the human race itself, that is at stake. I cannot help but sympathize with everyone in this state of panic. Not because their reasons are invalid, but because I understand the futility and pain of such efforts, and the false hope that resides there. In a way, I feel a death has already occurred. A delusional, self-supporting bias that most people have within themselves, which, according to David McRaney (author of You Are Now less Dumb), is an essential part of our ability to cope with the uncertainty of life. The world has suddenly begun to question what was once reserved for those of us who were considered afflicted.
The irony is not lost on me. I have suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) for almost 20 years. My most recent encounter with the disorder has been with contamination. This is a form of my obsession that seems to continually resurface. My teenage years were dominated by the need to shamefully conceal bottles of hand sanitizer, if I could be so lucky as to find a place to buy it. I was, and am, often envious of the seeming oblivion everyone else has towards bacteria; the consensual belief that they had been safe from its infliction. I have difficulty comprehending this way of thinking, when I can see the danger everywhere, on everything.
Now, humanity is looking twice at door handles and shopping carts. We are contemplating the probability of harmful micro organisms living on every surface. All the while, I have been aspiring to a level of acceptance. I struggle with the understanding that, although my anxiety and obsessions lead me to believe that I can control what affects me, the reality is that I most certainly cannot. The desperate urgency for this control is the most painful piece of it all. It keeps me washing until my hands chemically burn and bleed. Ultimately, I know that someday I must die, and that this prevention I am attempting will have been for not.
Civilization has begun an obsessive cycle. The once obtuse indifference to the microscopic cohabitants of this planet has been replaced by fear. The ease in which this particular contagion spreads from host to host has restricted our way of life by mandating isolation and sanitation. These efforts aim to cease the pandemic from infecting more people, in the hopes to end the rising death toll. We may even succeed in preventing our own extinction, this time around. The future however is never certain, and we cannot aim to make it so without extinguishing its very essence.
This is not to say that everyone deciding to wash more and wear masks as recommended by the health authorities have suddenly developed OCD. Just performing an action does not give you a biologically linked psychological disorder. But, it does mean that many have had a glimpse into the world where the benign becomes frightening and I sympathize with the shock of this type of transition. As my OCD has transitioned many times in the course of my life, it is something I am all too familiar with.
My hope is that we can return to a state of ignorance, once the chaos has passed. This life is a chance that we all take. We all have the same finish line, regardless of race, gender, or creed. To live in perpetual fear of our expiry is a struggle I know all too well; attempting to avoid it is futile. Enlightened oblivion of doing what will ultimately kill me is my highest aspiration, and in this I believe I will have truly learned to live.