The Vanguard Project

Fort Living Room Blog

The Writing Demon

Today is a good day. Just a couple days before Christmas at least as I write this.

The weather is a little gloom and doom, rainy, overcast, but relatively warm.

I’ve got the truck loaded up for some research at the range.


Despite my excitement about guns, and what I could ramble on forever about - my train of thought is indeed, writing.


I have OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) which I’ve talked about in a few episodes on the Podcast (Part 1 Link and Part 2 Link).

The short summary of it, is that my issues aren’t the cute Hollywood version of just being neat and orderly and being just a little over particular. My types of anxieties have in one way or another dictated my life. I would spend hours a day locking and re-locking doors in high school, often having to return home to confirm what I thought I already knew. In college it turned into hand washing where I would again spend hours washing my hands - at least three times before I felt comfortable leaving, even then if I touched something wrongly or when I wasn’t prepared, I would need to go rewash. It then transformed into laundry, where everything needed to be washed once or twice before it was considered clean. Finally - post college, I met my now wife. And my anxieties turned towards some pretty horrible thoughts - what are called ‘intrusive thoughts’ - to me these intrusive thoughts slowly formed into what I called the ‘demon’ in my head that I had to learn to live with.


A piece of that process is what I want to share today.

Now - I’ll preface a few things… first, I have a great family and support that helped me find counselors, therapist, and clarity along the way. Second, the ‘demon’ is a metaphor if you do some additional reading on OCD (or I am sure a variety of other issues) it’s a way to help identify your thoughts versus what anxiety dictates. Finally, I have not perfected a single fucking thing, I never will and this process is not overnight.

Today, I want to tell you about my journals. When my now wife and I met, it was different - I loved her deeply and wholeheartedly from the beginning, I knew coming into our relationship I had issues… At the time, I could pick a few things out I had issues with but hadn’t dived into my own psychology to really provide any meaningful insight. So, one of my first introspective actions was to seek out a therapist, not a counselor or just a friend to talk to but someone that would call my bullshit out and I could scream at and use all the fuck fuckery fucker fuckings I wanted…

Swearing is my love language.

My anxieties ran rampant in our relationship, and I had this metaphorical demon run free in my head and that’s what lead me to writing. All these intrusive thoughts, these thoughts that were not necessarily my own but in my head, needed to be written down.


Intrusive thoughts are thoughts that you have that might not necessarily be true to how you actually think or feel, but can’t quite be carved out of your own mind. I see them as a part of the psyche that latches onto a fear or insecurity that want to convince you it is the biggest priority and of the most concern… when there might not really be a genuine issue or as big of a concern.


Up until my wife and I meet, I had all but actively avoided relationships… So, when my wife and I started dating that’s when the thoughts really developed into the big ugly monster right on queue.

My wife is amazing, our relationship was ugly at times because of what I am going to write next - but I want to be clear that she is the most gracious, patient, beautiful human I’ve ever been able to know, and I believe my demon knew that, which resulted in a lot of undue hardship. Without her strength, love, and ability to put up with my shit, I would not be the man I am now.

Without getting into details on what I wrote, my demon forced me down, to believe in my worthlessness, my insecurities, my fears, my understanding of love, commitment, trust.

Because of this, every time I felt something new, or felt uncomfortable, or had a lack of understanding, or had an emotion I couldn’t express my thoughts would tell me it was the end of the world. Every conceivable thing I could possible be afraid of, became real. I would relive those thoughts and emotions again and again, often losing track of what actually happened going down worst case scenarios. I would forget what we talked about, even after the sixth time. I would plead my case and listen to her, but never actually being there because I fought an internal battle trying to remember what I even really felt or thought without losing to fear. I recall there being times where I would go to the gym with my shooting earplugs just to drown out the outside noise because there was so much inside. I would lose track of reality because the demons noise was so constant telling me I forgot, or that the end of my little world was right around the corner if I didn’t talk to her about something, or asked for clarification, or validation. 24 hours a day, 7 days week.

I am sure the above paragraph is confusing, as I sure hope it is - because that was my life for awhile. It was these lies that I had to start writing. I wrote angrily, I would yell, and scratch through sheets of paper trying to understand my thoughts, come to answers, find resolution and peace… I would write at all hours, I would write when I was broken down at work, I would write when I was drunk on a Monday at midnight. I would write at the coffee shop trying to figure out what love meant. I would write after my therapist appointment when I had just a brief moment of clarity. I would write when I could not let go of a thought that ate me away.


Writing for me was a way to put the frustration on paper just to get it out.

Writing for me was a way to document things in the moment.

Writing for me was the method I could remember the good, the bad, the ugly.

Writing also gave the demon power.

I am sure the terminology ‘demon’ makes some people uncomfortable, but in my therapy, in my research, in my conversations with my buddy and my now wife, I was able to start to separate my thoughts versus what were not my own which resulted in a slow, painful separation of my own thoughts and what the demon thought.


This is the tricky part, I believe writing for me was the release I needed, the slow, deliberate, painful identification of real versus perceived realities. I believe that by writing I was able to get out the inner rage that I was feeling but was able to overcome this with external guidance (friends, my wife, and therapy). Where I think this can become a problem is that being an obsessive person and obsessively writing I am inherently giving into the intrusive thoughts and demons more which could have resulted in a continued spiral downward.


Because of my writing, my therapy, and those around me - I was able to start to slowly separate my demons anxious thoughts from my own and understand how to avoid knee jerk reactions.


In time, I either read about or developed a similar metaphor…

At one point, I couldn’t tell you the difference between my thoughts and the demons.


After months of work, it felt like the demon and I lived in a one bedroom apartment, we worked together, carpooled, and were joined at the hip. But separate.


After a year of work, the demon and I lived in a two bedroom apartment, worked separate jobs, on different schedules, and occasionally brushed shoulders in the kitchen.


Now, we’re friends - we live together, we don’t really like each other, but we’re cordial. When we see each other, it’s a handshake and a ‘good to see you’


Writing for me was a temporary release of frustration, with guidance and significant help of others I was able to find myself through writing, with a possible risk of losing myself.


Writing for me was living proof of deeply rooted fears, anxieties, and a lack of understanding of self. I believe in the power of introspection, of writing, of meditation. I also believe in the power of guidance, my recommendation - to those battling themselves, you aren’t on an island.


Find what works, but don’t do it alone.

It will take time.

It will not be fun.

You won’t get it right the first time.

I do not have full understanding of self, I do not have it all figured out, I recently learned something about myself in therapy just this week about avoiding hard conversations.

As such, writing will likely be a continued effort - refreshed with this blog, whether that’s about life lessons learned, additional topics on mental health, guns, fitness, hunting, all the things. I like talking, I like sharing, I like learning… hopefully I can share this with you all.



.....

references:

https://www.ted.com/talks/tauscha_johanson_ocd_starving_the_monster

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd

https://iocdf.org/about-ocd/


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