I spent twenty-one years pretending to be unaffected, impartial, and balanced. There were a thousand things that even at the time, I laughed off and I said it was nothing. That I was used to it. Even suicide attempts didn’t phase me, I could pick up and get on with the party. The daily abuse and the wearing down of my self was normal and it was a mild inconvenience, I did not need to be whole. I suppressed it but it came through in different ways – in guilt and karma and responsibility. To feel guilty was to be in control – and I felt so in control. I felt like I was sacrificing myself for the greater good, to save everyone around me. If you ask any obsessive compulsive person to do something that is out of their comfort zone or that disobeys their ritual, they will say that they can’t. It is not a case of won’t or not wanting to, because they do want to. Deep down I desperately wanted to own candles, eat more than 200 calories a day, not cry when something of mine was touched, not feel guilty for things that were not my fault. To not run for three hours and still feel guilty. To not see a fire engine, an open gate, someone locking their front door – without feeling like what went wrong was my fault. To have friends and to leave the house. I wanted to, but I couldn’t. Everything was my fault and my responsibility – even wars in the Middle East could be solved if I ran up and down the stairs fifteen times. When I was seven I wouldn’t let myself go home until I had thought of a word with fifteen letters. Believe me, I would have loved not to stand on my street until 6pm flicking through a mental dictionary. But I could not just go home, because I was responsible. I was magical and I could save everyone if I sacrificed my own happiness and time. But it isn’t just that, is it? The ritual was not reached until hours of obsession. My mind still is full to the brim with violent thoughts, images of murder, my dog dead, fears of rape and fire. Constantly. I have images come up in front of me that I cannot suppress until I perform the ritual and you cannot imagine how debilitating that is. Obsessive compulsions are not fun, they are not a handy tool to help you be cleaner – they are absolute fucking hell and they ruined fifteen years of my life. They took my childhood.

But to now. My obsessions and my guilt and abuse suffered at the hands of my parents have slipped to the side a little, and given away to sickness and addiction and anger. I understand now why I do the things I do, why my eye is blind and why I bleed and scream and am just awful. I am sick. I understand it and now things come rushing back, again. I can’t stop them. Now I see a garden chair and I remember being thrown into one. I was five years old. I see stairs and I remember being hurled down them, radiators equal cracked heads, certain colours and smells and sounds can trigger an attack of screaming about a memory that I didn’t even know was there. I realised today that whilst I have made a family for myself, they are twenty-one too and have their own things to get on with. For all of the independence that I think this has given me, it has taken so much more. Everything has always been my responsibility and I want a family, I want a mother or a father to attend my graduation and visit me in hospital and call me just to ask how I am. I am lonely. I will be buying two graduation tickets, and I will have no-one to fill those seats. To be so sick and to be told it is your fault, that your life was perfect and you are ungrateful is not fair. I am not old enough to look after myself, yet.

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