A major project I have been working on in 2020 and 2021 is a fantasy series (to be completed). The poem Spellbound is not part of this series, but it is inspired by the same artistic process I’ve been using to write my dark little fairy tale. This process consists of me translating my mental struggles into fantastical terms and motifs. I was thinking to myself about the obsessive nature of falling in love or falling into fascination with a person, place, or thing as someone with OCD. It is an experience more negative and toxic than it is positive and enjoyable. And it’s something I get called “crazy” for a lot, so I wanted to write a poem in my own little self-aware way as a hypothetical rebuttal to anybody that weaponizes my OCD against me. With that in mind I started to refer to the that mind-altering moment when I fall into fixation with something as a “spark”. This spark, something that many people feel with “love at first sight”, is always exciting at its inception. In the mirrored fantasy version of my psyche the spark is, quite literally, “magic”. That spark has proven since I was a teenager to always end badly though, and that’s why Spellbound describes the origin of this spell as a blessing from a witch that has gone awry. “[She] struck my heart, but must have missed […] because I feel it in my brain.” This whole concept of feeling love in the brain instead of the heart is, well, at the heart of my experience with obsessive compulsive disorder. It’s a trick. It’s a gift gone wrong. It’s not the magical feeling that one feels in heart, it’s obsession, and that is the difference between OCD and real authentic love. One is felt in the brain, and one is felt in the heart. The one felt in the brain is a toxic version of the latter. And I’m no fool to how that spell has manipulated the way I handle social situations in the past.
Spellbound carries on to describe three stage of obsession in rhymes. First the excitement, second the longing, and last the devastation. This is pretty self-explanatory of how OCD feels in any brain that feels the initial “spark”. Then the poem finishes off in a closing stanza about the repetitive nature of the OCD cycle. OCD fixations happen in the following order: Obsession, Compulsion, a feeling of Relief, and then starts over with a new Obsession. This model for the mental disorder was directly referenced when writing the last stanza. The reason I even thought to write this poem was mainly due to the sentiment expressed in the last line, “It never works out and I get worse. A brand new spell with the same hurt.” This is where my frustration comes in, because I do truly feel like falling in love for most people is like a spell, but its a magical experience that is innately positive. I don’t feel that way as someone with OCD. This positive experience that seems so great for everyone else always goes wrong for me because of the way my brain malfunctions in an obsessive compulsive manner. I thought about this recently because I started to feel a new spark, and it was fantastic, but I shut it down as quick as possible. I just don’t have the energy or will to be spellbound again. Not now, at least. Someday I’ll figure out how to be spellbound in my heart instead of my brain, but that day is not today. I’ll stick to exploring psychological phenomena with a rhythmic fantasy backdrop for now.
You can read my poem, Spellbound, here.
– Valerie Parente (1-29-2021)