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This Is How You Fall In (And Out) Of Love When You Have OCD

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Mental illness is a struggle in every day life, let alone in love. Neil Hilborn, a slam poet, tells his side of the disease at the 2013 Rustebelt Regional Poetry Slam. Listen to him speak about how much falling in love with someone truly means to someone suffering from OCD.

The first time I saw her..
Everything in my head went quiet.

All the ticks, all the constantly refreshing images just disappeared.

When you have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, you don’t really get quiet moments.

Even in bed, I’m thinking:

Did I lock the doors? Yes.
Did I wash my hands? Yes.
Did I lock the doors? Yes.
Did I wash my hands? Yes.

But when I saw her, the only thing I could think about was the hairpin curve of her lips..
Or the eyelash on her cheek—
the eyelash on her cheek—
the eyelash on her cheek.

I knew I had to talk to her.

I asked her out six times in thirty seconds.

She said yes after the third one, but none of them felt right, so I had to keep going.

On our first date, I spent more time organizing my meal by color than I did eating it, or fucking talking to her..
But she loved it.

She loved that I had to kiss her goodbye sixteen times or twenty-four times if it was Wednesday.

She loved that it took me forever to walk home because there are lots of cracks on our sidewalk.

When we moved in together, she said she felt safe, like no one would ever rob us because I definitely lock the door eighteen times.

I’d always watch her mouth when she talked—
when she talked—
when she talked—
when she talked;
when she said she loved me, her mouth would curl up at the edges.

At night, she’d lay in bed and watch me turn all the lights off.. And on, and off, and on, and off, and on, and off, and on, and off, and on, and off.
She’d close her eyes and imagine that the days and nights were passing in front of her.

But then.. She said I was taking up too much of her time.

That I couldn’t kiss her goodbye so much because I was making her late for work..

When she said she loved me, her mouth was a straight line..

When I stopped in front of a crack in the sidewalk, she just kept walking..

And last week she started sleeping at her mother’s place.

She told me that she shouldn’t have let me get so attached to her; that this whole thing was a mistake, but..

How can it be a mistake that I don’t have to wash my hands after I touch her?

Love is not a mistake, and it’s killing me that she can run away from this and I just can’t.

I can’t go out and find someone new because I always think of her.

Usually, when I obsess over things, I see germs sneaking into my skin.
I see myself crushed my an endless succession of cars..
And she was the first beautiful thing I ever got stuck on.

I want to wake up every morning thinking about the way she holds her steering wheel..
How she turns shower knobs like she opening a safe.

How she blows out candles—
blows out candles—
blows out candles—
blows out candles—
blows out—….

Now, I just think about who else is kissing her.

I can’t breathe because he only kisses her once—he doesn’t care if it’s perfect!

I want her back so bad..

I leave the door unlocked.

I leave the lights on.

Also, check out his AMA on Reddit about how much OCD has influence his life and writing.

[Reddit]

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