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  • jenepstein9

In honor of mental health month:

Don't Think Too Much

On April 8th, I published my inaugural post to a new blog, the Slog. Based on the reaction I’ve been receiving from readers it seems that my experiment to reach a wider audience may over time become successful.

I’ve heard from people, who I did not expect would comment on the post, some who are acquaintances more than close allies. Some who I haven’t spoken to in months. The feedback has been both positive and unexpected.

One comment came from a friend, also a reader and reviewer of Don’t Get Too Excited.

He texted to say how much he loved the blog, that this pandemic must be so awful for me, and that my “writing was getting better”. Thanks! I tapped back. At the time, I didn’t quite know how to process this. Was he saying that a raw a piece of writing is better than a polished one? I don’t know if my book editor Rose who spent 3 months meticulously shaping the final manuscript for DGTE, would agree something that took 40 minutes to write demonstrated a better quality of writing than something that took 3 months, but his point was well taken, we are often more honest with ourselves when we don’t try too hard.

My first piece didn’t try too hard. It’s a model I’ll try to stick too for future postings. The idea is to dig deep into raw emotion, puncture the skin and allow it to bleed and touch dirty surfaces even it risks infection. Perhaps that’s a poor metaphor but I did say it’s better not to try too hard.

One theme explored in DGTE that I don’t think I was honest enough about is intimacy and relationships. It’s a theme that I want to dig deeper into with the Slog. My childhood, relationships with men and aversion to dating. One question I’ve been asking is will the lens on entering relationships evolve post-pandemic? Further, will not being permitted to touch someone prompt me to crave touch? I’m inclined to think that this is exactly the type of exposed wounds people want to read about, an experience that is specific but a fear which is universal.

I believe that everything happens for a reason. COVID-19 is happening for a reason, for each of us that reason is different and is perhaps multi-faceted. On a systemic level this pandemic has occurred to expose economic inequities, racial and class divides, and the frailties of our eco- system. On a personal level, for some COVID-19 exposes a disproportionate weight in priorities, ranking career goals and success above the value of family is one example.

COVID-19 sounds the alarm that if we don’t view this experience as a teachable moment and change our behaviors future pandemics are inevitable.

Before COVID-19, I knew our system was broken, understood the value of work/life balance and feared everyone I met, was contaminated. So perhaps, my teachable moment is to incorporate the same lessons into living with OCD as with writing. Don’t think too much about it. If every person and every surface is already contaminated, there is no unknown to fear. I might as well go ahead and touch them, slather my lips in their saliva, forget scouring the tub with bleach and disinfectants before enjoying a lukewarm bath riddled with toxins. Allow touch to derive arousal and pleasure, rather than caution and uncertainty.

I believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe that if after this crisis ends, I don’t change my behaviors, if I continue down the OCD path of thinking too much, then that is all that I will be left with, my thoughts.

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