Christmas By Light

If I could be any house
I’d be the Christmas house
on my corner, a beacon
that comes out once a year
to show people the way home.
I’d cover myself in fairy lights.
I’d wrap my feet in shiny paper.
I’d pinch my nose till it was glowing.
I’d dream of summer snow.
And I’d be Christmas for all of you,
I’d be Christmas right up to the moon.
And the blush of light would hold us
like a snowglobe in somebody’s palm
and all around our huddled forms
would be a trembling, sparkling calm.
And when the decorations were packed away
I would keep shining in the dark.
Lighting up the hopes of those who pass,
showing those hopes for what they are:
the fairy lights of the heart.

–Sarah Stanton

An Edwardian townhouse lit up with fairy lights. The shape and windows of the house are bordered in lights, two large wreaths are illuminated below the windows, the trees surrounding the house are also lit up in lights, a large ballerina is lit up with blue lights in the first floor window, and the garage door is wrapped with shiny red wrapping paper.

Why OCD Makes Social Media Hard

(Image description available on original tweet.)

In case you’re wondering,

That cute little post about my Christmas decorations took me three days to make. One to take an obsessive amount of photos (and you know when I use that term I mean it), one to agonise over which photos to post, and one to actually edit and post them. I spent around 5 hours editing yesterday, OCD building in me with every breath. Yes, it takes me 5 hours to edit 3 photos in Instagram. I had to make sure the photos were symmetrical, that they were “perfectly” edited (including photoshopping out a barely-visible cup stain), that I really had chosen the right combination of photos–in short, that there was nothing “wrong” with them, no tiny mistakes that might make people hate me, which is what my OCD thinks will happen if I am less than perfect. I am already going through a major C-PTSD flashback, and with the OCD on top (fun fact: OCD is actually a survival mechanism my brain developed to cope with C-PTSD) I can easily get stuck in a loop.

It’s hard to describe OCD, but I say it feels like a tooth loose in the world. You know when you have a loose baby tooth, and your whole mouth feels kind of wrong because of it, but you just can’t leave it alone? And even though you know it’s bad for you, you’re compelled to wiggle it until it comes free? OCD is like that. It’s severe distress because a photo is a few pixels off symmetrical. It’s hours revising a single tweet because the words just don’t feel “right”. It’s days spent editing a Facebook post because an imperfection would mean the end of the world. Even this post has taken most of a day to write; has been agonised over, perfectionised, extruded out of me painfully and slowly to comply with all the irrational demands my brain forces me into. Writing is a torturous process for everyone, but OCD kicks that into high gear.

It’s important to me that people know this isn’t easy. Social media is like permanent exposure therapy for me. I know nobody will REALLY hate me because I make a typo or a photo is a tiny bit off centre. But my brain is very good at convincing me they will. I love sharing the way I do–as a bedbound person, it makes me feel like part of the world–but after that day, when I screamed and sobbed for hours over three small pictures, I want to be honest about how much it takes out of me. Anything you have ever seen me post has been dragged out of me like it was my guts. It actively hurts me to do it. But I’m compelled to do it, again and again, because this is how I feel seen. I could have just not posted those photos. I could have given myself a break. But I don’t want OCD to make me more invisible than I am.