Note: This show actually took place and I wrote this blog post almost a year ago! I was waiting for the videos of the show before publishing the post, but unfortunately the videos did not come out. It is almost time now for our second Mental Health Monologues show, so I figure I might as well post this and talk about the show anyway! I am not performing but am co-directing the show this year, and it is by far one my favorite things I am involved with on campus. I will post about the 2016 show shortly after it happens. If anyone has questions about the Mental Health Monologues show or is interested in starting a show like this in their community, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.orgFor the past several weeks a student organization I am a part of had been working very hard to put on a show called the Mental Health Monologues. The show featured nine college students sharing their stories and messages related to mental health through a monologue, poem, spoken word, dance. etc. and was the first of its kind at my university!
The day of the show has finally come and passed and being part of this show was truly an amazing experience. All of the other performers and students planning the show were incredible people to meet. Everyone was full of passion, incredibly strong, and expressed their own stories in a serious but moving manner. I am still in awe of the people I have met and very grateful to have met them. I’m inspired to keep speaking out about mental health on both the large scale of a stage and the small scale of everyday conversations.
Here is a video of my spoken word about OCD, titled “Superpowers.” (Since the video is hard to hear I will also include a copy of my script at the end.)
It was of course nerve-wracking to share something so personal in front of this many people but I’m really glad I took the chance. Every time we do something scary it becomes easier to take on the next scary task. Also, there’s nothing like public speaking to give you a huge rush of adrenaline and a burst in confidence! All of the performers and planners were very supportive of each other which was also helpful. As soon as a performer finished they were bombarded with a flower, hugs, and congratulations! It was mesmerizing to watch everyone support each other but also to see each performer’s face right after they performed, so relieved and proud of themselves.
I’m very sad the show is now over but I can’t wait to start planning again for next year and to meet the new performers!
“Do one thing every day that scares you.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
(We each had to choose a quote to go in the program and this was the one I picked!)
~Morgan #speakyourmind #mentalhealthmatters
Note: Photos were taken by Ella Webb.
Today I’m going to tell you a secret. I have superpowers (pose), superpowers I use to save lives several times a day
One of the first times I saved someone was when I was ten years old. I had put my family in danger and now I had to save them.
What I had done to endanger them was as I was falling asleep I accidentally had the thought that my family might get sick or hurt and die. Now I was utterly terrified that unless I knocked on wood (knocking action) over and over with perfect precision, in multiples of 3, and ending on a safe number of total knocks then my family would die and it would all be my fault.
It took close to an hour, but I did it. I saved them. Every single night for months.
You see when you have OCD it’s not uncommon for your thoughts to give you superpowers. The possibly useful, but very dangerous, superpower that thinking something could make it come true.
As a little kid I was deeply afraid that my thoughts could affect the safety of those around me so I spent hours doing compulsions, these weird behavioral and thought rituals to keep everyone safe.
All of this responsibility was very confusing. Why was I so dangerous? Why could only I save them? Why weren’t these thoughts and rituals my choice?
It would be another decade before I knew I had OCD but it was already taking up so much of my time even though I knew with almost complete certainty that just because I thought about something bad happening it didn’t mean it would happen.
With almost complete certainty.
But mixed in with almost complete certainty, all you need with OCD, is one teeny-tiny droplet of doubt. Give into a compulsion once and the doubt grows a little. Give in twice, it doubles. Give in three times and it explodes.
If you were wondering, my family didn’t end up dying that night. The fear gradually faded and although I occasionally get the urge to knock on wood to lower my anxiety, I don’t have to anymore.
But that’s the thing with OCD. It is the best shapeshifter I have ever encountered. Once you get rid of one fear another one pops up. Then as you work to get rid of this fear the old one sneaks back in. If you care about anything or anyone, OCD latches on for attack.
Everything you do takes longer than it should. And that’s because everything comes with a rule book. An enormous rule book detailing what you can and cannot do, and all of the things you absolutely must do to keep the universe safe from all the destruction you personally could cause.
By following a handy-dandy rule book you too can evade disaster a hundred times a day. (gradually less sarcastic)
Starting from the second you wake up:
(emphasize list structure)
First, when choosing what to wear better not wear anything blue or something bad will happen. Next, be sure to unplug everything in sight before you leave and tap the light switch just right or the whole building will burst into flames. Next, you better not go anywhere without a water bottle or you will die. Next, when doing homework reread that sentence two, five, ten, fifteen times even if it takes an hour to read a few pages, so you absolutely do not miss any information. Next, allot at least an hour to get ready for bed. With enough useless rituals it can easily take that long. Next, spend fifteen minutes checking you set your alarm clock, otherwise you may miss class and will be hated. And finally hope you have time for at least 6 hours of sleep. Five is more likely.
OCD follows you everywhere. The rulebook is extensive, always changing, and the more you give into the terrorizing anxieties, the more the rulebook grows.
In my head I have saved thousands of lives. But does all of this make me a superhero if I can’t live my own life?
I spend so much time following all of these rules, instead of just living and being myself.
Yes disobeying the rule book is possible if you take it gradually, but it is one of the hardest things you will ever do. This is why people with anxiety disorders are not cowards. They are some of the bravest there are because they must continually confront what terrifies them. Bravery is what it takes to deal with constant anxiety and more importantly to fight back against anxiety so you can regain your life. Maybe that’s my superpower?
And most importantly this is what OCD looks like. OCD is not a word that should be thrown around to mean organized, particular, clean, or tidy. You should see all the dirty dishes in my room. It is not a trendy quirk, so please stop pretending you want it.
As I’ve been working on my OCD in therapy I’ve seen glimpses sometimes of what freedom from looping thoughts of disaster and stressful rituals can look like, and that gives me hope on bad days, like days when the stress of one midterm can take away months of hard work and progress.
But I keep fighting back a little more everyday because I so badly want that freedom where I can finally live.