A Germaphobe’s Hell

A Germaphobe’s Hell by Valerie Parente

When someone else understands the anxiety I’ve been feeling for half my life
I don’t feel comfort, I feel competition.
I worked from the inside out to walk through this hell
and now you’re telling me to turn around and walk with everyone else.

No, I don’t want the world to change their mind and say that my mental strife was justified
don’t tell me that my fears were right all along.
Why would I want to see my disorder become mainstream
after you spent years telling me that my pain is unique?

I understand the necessity to chain us all down as a way to protect ourselves
but I can’t pretend it doesn’t feel like hell
to be told to back-track all your progress
because now it really is a matter of life or death.

Bratty

– Valerie Parente (4-13-2020)

An Obsessive Compulsive’s Take on the Coronavirus Crisis

An Obsessive Compulsive’s Take on the Coronavirus Crisis by Valerie Parente

Day Five in quarantine, and I am full of so many uncomfortable thoughts. How odd it is to live during a time when everybody else is performing the compulsions you’ve been told were “irrational” for over a decade.

I have been wildly afraid of germs since I was 13 years old (I’m 25 now). I don’t touch my face unless it’s right after washing my hands. I deem my clothes “dirty” as soon as I exit my home. I keep bottles of hand sanitizer in my car and every bag I have. And in the past few years I have gotten really good about challenging these germaphobic thoughts and compulsions by going out more, touching my face, not taking a shower immediately upon coming home from being out in public, and doing so many more little acts. Now with the COVID-19 crisis it feels like everything I’ve been told was “irrational” is becoming the norm. Yes, this is an unprecedented situation and the rules of what is “cleanly” and “germy” have now changed, but that doesn’t make it any less bizarre for someone who has been told for the past decade that constant hand washing and not touching your face is unreasonable and compulsions of the mentally ill. Now we’re desperate not to fall ill in the name of doing these manic compulsions. The acts that were was once deemed over-the-top are now being drilled into our brains.

I can’t speak for everyone with OCD, but for me, there was always a sense of “I’m being ridiculous, but I’m going to do it anways” when I performed a compulsion to get rid of germs. I always kind of knew I was overreacting. I knew it. Did I believe it? No. Knowing and believing are two very different things. I very much believed I would get sick if I didn’t shower before going in my bed, but I knew deep down that this was not a normal thought process and that I was being crazy. This coronavirus crisis really is an OCD sufferer’s worst case scenario played out. It’s everything we’ve ever been told was an overreaction now being categorized as a necessary course of action.

People always told me it wasn’t the end of the world if I let a germ touch my skin. Now the world is in this freak situation where it might be the end of the world. We’re in a realm of danger where it actually can be a matter of life or death if you don’t wash your skin. That’s absolutely mind boggling for me. I’m not necessarily upset, and I’m not even complaining, I’m just uncomfortable. Perplexed. Shocked. I never thought I’d see the day where all of the obsessions I was told were unnecessary to entertain have now been given credibility on a global scale. I guess the best word I can use to describe all of this is wild. It’s just wild.

Social distancing. Hand washing. “Don’t touch your face”. I’m equally curious as I am concerned with how society is going to behave once we move past this traumatic chapter. My gut tells me a lot of people are going to develop obsessive compulsive disorder after this. We’re fostering that obsessive compulsive mindset and placing it on a pedestal of “life or death” importance (and rightfully so), so how can you go from that drastic and dire mindset back to “oh you’re being ridiculous for wiping down your seat every time you go to sit in it”? I really don’t have the answer. I guess we’ll all find out, together.

– Valerie Parente (3-17-2020)

Playing With Storms (Diagnose Me)

Playing With Storms (Diagnose Me) by Valerie Parente

I’ve got five different disorders and I can’t afford to be diagnosed with another
But ever since the grief I’ve feel like my brain has spawned a new monster
My emotions are so intense and I freak out then repent
People ask me why I acted out
and I honestly can’t remember why
I remember doing the deed
but I don’t remember why I felt it was necessary
all I remember is that I really truly believed in the feeling’s intensity
and I played with thunderous storms even though I don’t even like the noise
and I think that’s pretty scary
when you can go 25 years understanding the string between your actions and emotions
then suddenly don’t remember why you did something so intense
its like you’re sitting in a backseat watching yourself
there’s a barrier between you and what you do
a major disconnect
and I can’t even begin to try to figure out why
I just know that my mind has become so hard to find
I’ve got five other disorders that I understand inside and out
but I don’t understand the reasoning behind this new rage filled spree
It would be so much easier to address this if someone could just diagnose me.
Please, just diagnose this storm inside of me.
Because then I can begin to master the storms artfully.

The Storm Maker

– Valerie Parente (1-28-2020)

Temporary Fix

Temporary Fix by Valerie Parente

Drunk

I felt fuzzy and like my vision was delayed
and I couldn’t keep up with the things my mind wanted to say
and it was nice not to have to think twice
because I was too busy trying to walk in a straight line.

My mind is always racing
and it was nice to slow down the pacing
all the worry, insecurity, anger…
It was too blurry to see my problems
so I didn’t even need to solve them
finally some peace of mind, without the effort or time.

– Valerie Parente (11-11-2019)

Emotionally Exhausted

Emotionally Exhausted by Valerie Parente

I’m emotionally exhausted
and I don’t know how to express it
I can only feel so much before I drown in it
and I can only hurt so much before I have to kill it
and I don’t want to walk away
but I don’t know what else to say
because I think I’ve exhausted all of my resources
talk, write, pray…
And all that’s left is just to rest
because I can’t deal with any more of this stress.

Only Human

– Valerie Parente (11-8-2019)

The Fear I Long For

The Fear I Long For by Valerie Parente

The truth is I’m absolutely terrified
of being anything but absolutely terrified…
of being enough without having to prove myself
of feeling a touch without having to remove myself
of being the person I know I am
in front of someone who understands.

tulip feet

– Valerie Parente (9-16-2019)

A Poetic Manifesto

A Poetic Manifesto by Valerie Parente

What it means to be an artist is that I take my life experiences and process them through a creative filter. My internal world manifests best through the art of written word. As a result, when I’m in pain I might write a “dark” piece. To those who find this work disturbing, this is my rebuttal.

"Scar Tissue"

I have every right to say anything I want to say
because this page is my stage and this is my brain
and the reason you felt uncomfortable when you read it
was because you have resonated with it.
If you become upset knowing that I am broken
then please understand that writing about my mental health
is how I begin to heal myself.

I will never stop emoting and hurting and healing and if any of this is problematic for someone then I pray you find the strength to learn how to be human one day.

– Valerie Parente (5-30-2019)