Mental illness can be a curious bastard. Two weeks ago, I went on a little break by the Gippsland lakes that was beautiful. For the majority of the time, the sun was shining and the weather was perfect. I should have been completely at ease, but my OCD still haunted me. I heard things that weren’t there. My anxiety still peaked for no reason at all and I still felt overwhelming melancholy as I sat on the balcony and looked out over the beautiful water. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time, but my mental illness doesn’t recede purely because I take a holiday. It’d be amazing if it did, but it’s there, just as ever present as it always is, except in a more scenic location.
I took a large beauty case with me, stocked with lotions and more makeup than you could poke a stick at, but I didn’t use or wear any of it. I couldn’t. My contamination OCD kept playing in my ear, over and over again, telling me that by touching my face, I could somehow contaminate myself and my face would break out in horrendous blisters and unsightly rash. For some stupid reason, I thought that being on holiday would be somehow different. Like my OCD might decrease a little and I’d be free from all the distressing thoughts that plague me every day. But they were there, like always.
I used to always wear a full face of makeup. But for the last 18 months or so, it’s been something I really struggle to do. And then of course, without it, I feel ugly on top of distressed. On the rare days I can manage it, I feel panicked and anxious that at any moment my face is going to break out. It takes a lot of self talk and breathing exercises to manage my anxiety on those days. I know that my fears are mostly unfounded in a rational sense, but OCD is anything but rational, even in the calmest and most picturesque settings. It’s something I’m working on. Tomorrow I’ll set my makeup gun on whore and try and tackle it, in spite of the anxiety it causes me.