I'm Just Trying To Find A Decent Melody: For the Anxious
There is a particular topic that I want to start writing about more often.
Want is maybe not the right word. I mean something more along the lines of "don't really want to at all, but feel I should in order to stay true to my own personal values" (but that doesn't condense well).
In this case the personal value is authenticity.
And the topic is mental illness.
Usually I write very quickly. Too quickly for my own good in many cases. What translates as confidence in professional and public writing often seems aggressive in a personal context.
But yes, as people who follow me on Twitter can attest, I've often compared the way I look and feel while writing to the Phantom of the Opera. With the same hunched posture, same "don't look at me I am a TORTURED MONSTER!" sort of attitude, many fewer candelabras, and a slightly less intense desire to kidnap people and bring them back to my lair.
(I do have sort of a real Thing for interesting lamps, so I suppose that's my equivalent of the candelabra thing.)
Although I know this to be true about myself, I'd have a hard time with anyone trying to describe me this way because of how closely it adhers to the archetype of the "crazy creative" mind. It's not so much being called "crazy". . .it's more my desire to not associate anything mystical or special to the quality. I think anyone who knows what it really feels like will say the same.
I just want to pause a moment here and say that I feel very lucky to have this venue in which to explain myself, and to have experienced an audience that's been incredibly sympathetic and kind. Wonders of the modern world.
Also to say that this is one thing I am writing very slowly.
There are so many things I want to say about mental illness, and very many things holding me back. A reluctance to be personally vulnerable is certainly one of them, but I also sometimes wonder if it's even worth trying to write about it or if the territory has already been too well-covered. (Which is something I have been sensitive about ever since my junior year of college, when a manuscript of mine was returned from an award committee with the feedback that Jewish identity narratives have had their time already. Which is probably true, and I should get over it, but I gotta tell you it was a real slap in the face.)
But I'll keep slogging away at figuring it out. Every piece of writing is just a draft.
Whew. Well, I think I've got it left in me to talk about what I came here to talk about: the nature of obsession.
More precisely, the nature of being an obsessive person. It's my experience that what separates a really scary obsessive person from just your garden variety lovably neurotic obsessive person is the ability to diversify your obsessions.
I certainly know this has been the case for me, which is why at the age of 25 I have a mind like a REALLY cluttered attic and am seriously considering renting additional storage space somehow. I just have this really relentless desire to acquire knowledge, and I realize that sounds like what the kids are calling a "humblebrag" but what I mean to emphasize here is the word relentless. Sometimes I would really like it to relent.
But it doesn't, and that's what makes me an obsessive person. That's all it ever is. Just too much of a (maybe good, maybe neutral) thing.
This quality of mine doesn't usually scare me, because it's just the way I live. But I know that it does scare other people occasionally. The word "obsessive" in itself is an insult, not to mention the many associations of Fatal Attraction and Misery that come with it when you happen to be a woman, as I am (in case you hadn't realized).
That's why I've learned to conceal it in my general life. Not because I am ashamed, but because it's not a good feeling to scare people.
And if you'll let me indulge my melodramatic side for a moment plz plz, even the Phantom of the Opera wears a mask.
The song: U2, "Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of"; 2002