Has OCD affected my creativity?

I’m feeling super uninspired this week and a sinus infection and temperature haven’t helped one bit. I’ve sat down with a mind to write this post four times already, but I just can’t seem to make the words on the page sound nice. Ever the perfectionist – this has made writing a post quite difficult. I just forgot the word ‘temperature’ and had to Google it. Don’t expect too much from this post…

In answer to the title; yes, absolutely. 

I hate clutter, in absolutely every sense. I hate a cluttered room, because it makes my brain feel cluttered and I HATE BRAIN CLUTTER. I hate a cluttered desktop on my laptop. I hate the page to look cluttered when I’m writing notes. I hate t-shirts with images cluttering them up. I hate colours cluttering my body. I hate the clutter of dust. As a child I even hated the clutter of freckles that sat on my cheeks (I mean the face kind not the bum kind…OR DO I????) I’ve always been very particular, even as a child, in terms of coordinating colours and shapes, symmetry, and things needing to be “just so”, as I put it. It wasn’t until my OCD diagnosis that I began to look at my personality traits and decide which of them were just Mim and which of them were mental illness (those little thought journeys are always a mad trip). Creativity usually involves an element of clutter. I think I’m naturally a creative person, but I’ve come to realise that OCD enjoys pissing all over the things that I am and the things that I enjoy. WOOO.

To be an interior designer would be the absolute dream. I spend so much time looking at interior design on the internet and in magazines. I imagine how I’d decorate my personal space if clutter didn’t bother me. I’d have pretty things on shelves covering my walls. I’d have ornaments and shaggy rugs dotted around. I’d have throws and cushions on my bed, and candles everywhere. Unfortunately though, I’m OCD Mim, and my bedroom in particular is clinical and bare. The walls are white, the furniture is white, and my bedsheets are white (imagine my client’s reactions if I became an interior designer lollll). Don’t get me wrong I BLOODY LOVE IT. It makes me feel refreshed, clear-headed and tidy. But I’ve been wondering over the last year or so…do I really love it? Or does the OCD love it…? 

I love art. I love looking at art. I love creating art – mostly painting and drawing. I’d bloody LOVE to be able to bring some of that art into my space, but I just can’t. My painted white walls have nothing on them – no art or photography whatsoever. I use plants to decorate my otherwise whitewash, minimalist space, because for some reason plants don’t count as ‘clutter’. I have upward of twenty canvases sat in a cupboard in my bedroom that I’ve painted intricately with nude bodies, plants, eyes and abstract designs, but they stay in the cupboard so’s not to clutter up my room. I’d love to put some on my wall but each time I’ve tried to put one on my shelf, I snatch it back down again within less than a day because it’s making my surroundings feel busy. I currently have four pieces of framed art in a shopping basket on a bookmarked site, but I can’t bring myself to buy them because that would actually mean putting them up.

When painting and drawing, I can’t let the brush or the pencil flow freely onto the canvas. I have to sketch and plan an idea first, before carefully completing the final piece. That’s not what making art is actually about for me personally. It shouldn’t be about the final product (especially when it just sits in my cupboard), it should be about enjoying the process of making the piece. I wish so badly that I could just paint what I feel, and let the painting be a direct translation from my brain. My last counsellor asked me on multiple occasions to paint or draw self-portraits of myself five years ago compared to now. She wanted me to let it flow without careful planning. Each time I tried to, I’d mix the paint, throw on an old jumper, the paintbrush would reach the canvas and then stop, because for some absurd reason I can’t bring myself to ‘wing it’ in terms of anything at all. I HATE ‘WINGING IT’ ALMOST AS MUCH AS I HATE GROUP HUGS. DON’T MAKE ME WING IT. 

As well as art, OCD seems to affect me in terms of the clothes I wear. Until a year or so ago, I primarily wore black. Black was my safe colour. Black jeans, black top, black trainers, black underwear. I always just assumed this was because I love the colour black, and when my Grandma lightheartedly lectured me to wear colour I’d reply with the argument “but black is classic”. I’ve since realised however, that constantly adorning black was simply a way of making my outfit as minimalist as possible. Not too busy. No clutter. Since releasing this and also since seeking treatment for OCD, I’ve managed to overcome it in quite a huge way. Sometimes I wear pink and red now WOAHHH, SLOW DOWN MIM. In fact, I’m wearing bright red as I write this. Somebody please STOP ME. I wore lots of colours last summer. Pastel colours, neon colours and lots of red. It felt nice, and nothing bad happened. Wahey!!

Jewellery has also been a way in which OCD has crushed my creativity a little. I used to be very particular about things matching. I only wear gold jewellery, and when I would wear multiple necklaces, the chains had to be the exact same type. The necklaces also needed to be the exact same shade of gold, and so I always bought the same karat of gold (good God I sound like such a barrel of laughs). I remember on one particular occasion, an ex of mine bought me a gold pendant necklace for my birthday. The necklace was beautiful and at first I adored it, but then the OCD sabotaged my happiness and my subconscious mind started to pick holes in my happiness. The chain had a slightly orange tint to it compared to the yellow gold tone of the pendant. This became an obsessive thought in my head, which caused me a lot of unnecessary worry. It makes me sad that the edge was taken off of this gorgeous gift from the man I loved. It made me feel ungrateful that I’d managed to find fault (though I obviously never shared my obsessive necklace worries with him), and so the OCD guilt hit in full force. Even something as simple and beautiful as receiving a gift turned out to be such a complicated mental event for me. Since starting treatment, I’ve become far more laidback about jewellery, and although I still only ever wear gold, I sometimes mix solid gold jewellery with gold-plated jewellery. I’M WILD, I KNOW! Who needs recreational drugs when you’re into mixing metals?!

One of the techniques I learned when doing CBT is to challenge what exactly it is I’m afraid might happen. What’s the worst that could happen if my room has art on the walls? What’s the worst that could happen if I wear a mix of silver and gold jewellery? I honestly have no clue as to what I’m so afraid of (I don’t think I’m even afraid as such – I just can’t physically bring myself to do certain things). But I guess that’s just how OCD works – logic doesn’t even come into it.

Now that I’ve been diagnosed with OCD, it’s been a pretty scary/fun couple of years trying to work out what’s Mim and what’s OCD. Treating the OCD means that more elements of my fundamental personality are coming through, which is actually really f***ing exciting. I sometimes imagine what I’d be like if I’d never had OCD. I think deep down I’d be a far more creative type, with my head in the clouds, always thinking of the next project I could manifest into reality. I would never wish away the OCD from my past though, because it’s taught me so so much. At the moment, I just feel really grateful that I can wear pink sometimes, and I hope that within the next few years I’ll have conquered a few more areas of the the OCD block that I have corking my creativity. Maybe in a year I’ll have some beautiful art on my walls, or maybe I won’t. I’m not rushing it, I just feel incredibly thankful for the place I’m in right now.

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