It could be violent images, or it could be a f**king shopping list. Paranoia or depression. Fear of shouting insults into loved one’s faces or blowing a lie into Little One’s ear. “I f**king hate you.” No more than a whisper, but solid like a blow from a steel hammer. Last night I imagined killing myself, and leaving a note for Little One, telling her that I didn’t love her, and never have. I’d write a letter to everyone who might attend the funeral. It would inform them that my relationship with Little One was a fraud. I imagined them sneering at the back of her head as my coffin was lowered into the furnace. I tried to forget such OCD b**lshit, but the feeling of dread and shame wouldn’t leave me. Even when my thoughts became jumbled and I couldn’t remember what I’d been thinking about, the dread lay heavy on my shoulders, like hearing a loved one had gone missing at sea – a weight that was constantly there, punching me in the ribs, the back of my head, low blows and kidney shots slamming in from every angle.
How did I get rid of this particular intrusive thought? I imagined Little One hanging herself, ending the pain with a cold snap of her neck, and all of a sudden, like a squirrel bolting up a tree, (or a crow flying off my shoulder,) the dread subsided – it felt like I was swimming in space. My PlayStation had been on pause for two hours as I battled those intrusive thoughts, and I crawled into bed before other demons came knocking. A butterfly had replaced the elephant in my head, but I knew it could mutate back at any moment.
How odd that thoughts of my loved one committing suicide had shooed the crow from the fence. Bleak as it may be, reminding myself that in a hundred and fifty years time, nobody living on the planet today will be alive helps to put things into perspective. I don’t want any of us to die, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. In the year 2170, we’ll all be a second hand memory, an anecdote, a chapter in a book, videos on the internet, a photo on a great grandchild’s wall. But none of us will be around to worry about it, even if we lived to be a hundred and twenty. So why should I worry about dying, about what I may or may not do? Every one of us will be dust blowing on the breeze. In my mind’s eye, giant cockroaches climb out of smoking piles of rubble, a cloud of gas passing over what was once London/New York/Istanbul. One day, visualising a team of iridescent unicorns may work, but for the time being, all I’ve got is the knowledge of inevitable annihilation. Swallowing these bitter pills fails to keep the demons from my door, but denies them access to the room.
It doesn’t mean I strive to not care about anything. I’m merely attempting to teach my brain the ability to let things go, to stop dwelling on what may or may not happen. The Spanish Inquisition. Despot rulers. Medieval torture chambers. The Coronavirus. You just have to listen to the news to see that life is a series of painful experiences – hopefully separated by long bouts of contentment. But OCD forgets about the good times. It sinks its claws into painful memories and rips them out of your brain, thrusting them in front of your eyes.
“Look what I found in your head!”
My job, if I want to keep my sanity, is to remind myself that I’ll be spending eternity not existing anyway, so why not leave a few things in the closet. Stop asking myself how it would affect Little One if I killed myself in front of her? Stop trying to second guess how such terrible things would feel, because I don’t know the answer, and anyway, the sun is still going to rise in the morning, whether I’m around to see it or not.