Dealing with a mental health issue can affect every part of your life ― including your relationships.
Case in point: This viral spoken poem by artist Neil Hilborn, which details the complexities of falling in love when you’re also dealing with obsessive compulsive disorder. The account is raw and emotional. It also perfectly captures the everyday challenges of the condition ― from repetitive behaviors to intrusive thoughts.
“The first time I saw her, everything in my head went quiet,” he says in the poem. “All the tics, all the constantly refreshing images, just disappeared. When you have obsessive compulsive disorder, you don’t really get quiet moments. Even in bed I’m thinking, ‘Did I lock the door, yes, did I wash my hands, yes.’”
OCD affects approximately 1 percent of the American population, with 50 percent of those cases being severe. It can lead to anxiety-provoking thoughts (some of which can cause debilitating panic attacks) and rituals that can interfere with a person’s daily life.
It’s those symptoms, Hilborn points out, that makes relationships difficult ― particularly when the other person may not fully understand the condition.
“I asked her out six times. In 30 seconds. She said yes after the third one, but none of them felt right so I had to keep going,” he says. “On our first date, I spend more time organizing my meal by color rather than eating.”
Hilborn’s video, which was originally created in 2013, has gone viral since he re-posted it last week on Facebook, racking up more than 25 million views. That’s encouraging when it comes to stigma. Research shows there’s still a negative stereotype when it comes to mental health conditions ― and those misconceptions can prevent people from seeking support and speaking up. Professional treatment is the most effective way to manage a mental health issue like OCD.
Take a look at the video above to hear more. Eye opening, isn’t it?
This story has been updated to include language that Hilborn’s poem was originally created in 2013.