Going to the Movies With OCD

Going to the cinema is one of my favorite things to do. Transporting me from my life to one filled with adventure, heartache, action, drama, thrills, scares or laughs, the cinema lets me feel separated from myself. It’s a wonderful little excursion for my thoughts. I adore the smell of popcorn as you enter through the doors, the excitement of children over-filling their pick ‘n’ mix as parents argue about the cost, the colors of the Tango Ice-Blast (or whichever branded slush drink is at your fave cinema). All the small things that make going to the cinema so special and enjoyable to me. But the cinema also causes me a lot of strife and trouble at times. If you didn’t read my last post (how dare you), basically I had popcorn, it got stuck in my teeth and it took me hours to get it out and my gums were bleeding and I couldn’t shower or sleep until it was gone. Since then, I haven’t had popcorn at the cinema and I now choose from the plethora of sweet and chocolate bags instead. I do this because I can open the bag and tip the sweets/chocolate into my mouth without having to use my hands which saves a lot of worry and hassle mentally.

At first, I admit I felt ashamed and embarrassed to be eating like this in public, but it soon gets dark and I start to not give a fuck because it made life easier for me, so sod the haters (insert the sassy hand emoji). This method of engulfing large quantities of sugary goodness was all going well, and had been doing so for years, up until recently. I ventured to the IMAX at Bluewater with a friend to catch “Doctor Strange” (review coming soon) and was hesitant because the 3D glasses used for IMAX films are a lot larger than the regular ones and they don’t come in lil’ packets, they’re loose, which means I worry more. I worry more because I don’t know where the glasses have been, who’s touched them, if they’ve been washed or wiped down since they were previously used, if they’ve fallen on the floor, etc. Anyway, I got on with it and purchased some anti-bac gel to use before I got back in my car at the end of the night so my mind was satisfied with that.

What I hadn’t considered, and one can only assume that it’s because I hadn’t put myself in this particular situation before, is that when tipping the sweets into my gob with wild abandon, some of them would hit the glasses before toppling into my mouth. Fortunately, this happened towards the end of my packet of crispy M&Ms, so dry those tears for the lost and forgotten confectionary.

Instantly, when the lil fucker hit the glasses and tumbled into my mouth, my anxiety spiked. It went from, “Ah this is nice, watching a film you’ve wanted to see for ages with your oldest friend, a throwback to the good ol’ days,” to, “What the fuck just happened? Go and make yourself sick! Spit them all out of your mouth! Go home and clean your teeth and wash your mouth out! That’s just gone in your mouth after touching glasses that could have been on the floor where people walk with shoes that couldn’t been trodden in spit of dog shit and other horrible things!”

All of this was happening internally like an atom bomb in my mind, but looking at me from the outside, no one would’ve known what was happening or how I was feeling. I went back to my recovery methods: distract and re-focus. I forced myself to engage in the film, to talk to my mate, to do anything other than think about making myself sick. To make matters worse, we were on our way out after staying for the extra scene (it’s a Marvel film, so of course we had to), when my mate then proceeded to drop his glasses on the floor which only confirmed my worst fears. It went into overdrive again, going a hundred miles an hour and watching the end scene and talking about it and driving home and dropping my mate off and walking through the door and telling my dad about the film and sitting down did nothing to calm my brain. So I went back to some more recovery techniques. I sat with the feeling, I tried to amplify it, to make it the worst possible version of the story.

My brain slowly started to calm down. I went and brushed my teeth (albeit I threw the brush away afterwards), had a shower and went down and had something to eat. I didn’t make myself sick.

I didn’t make myself sick.

This was and is probably one of my biggest achievements to date. Having something inside of me that I feel could contaminate me is my worst fear by a long way and my go to method of dealing with that fear is making myself sick. I can’t quite believe I got through it and managed the situation using distraction and refocusing, sitting with the feeling and just “getting on with it.”

Hope is real everyone. Recovery, as far-fetched though it may seem, is possible. You don’t have to be a slave to your mental illness forever and slowly but surely, I am becoming living proof of this. You can get through today. You can get through tomorrow. You can do it!

All it takes is a little hope.

Rich x

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