Crumpled

This summer, I worked a full-time job and spent every night working on this album, which is the story of my life with mental illness from age six to now. I’m very proud of how much I accomplished. But my biggest achievement of the summer, and of the last few years, was something that may seem like nothing to most people.

My biggest achievement was getting rid of the towel in my room.

Sounds silly, right?

Yet it was something that I struggled with for almost ten years.

In “Crumpled,” I focused on a story from my elementary school days. I had been getting ready to walk to school, and I was drying my hands in the bathroom.

I dried them and left the room, but I quickly doubled back. Something felt wrong. It’s hard to put into words, but my hands felt contaminated. Imagine sneezing into yours, shaking hands with the least sanitary person you know, and then milking a goat covered in manure.

It felt like that.

Of course, I thought. We just need a new towel in here. I went to the closet, grabbed a fresh one, and threw the dirty one into a bucket in the corner of the room. I washed them again, drying them on the obviously spotless towel.

But it didn’t feel spotless.

In fact, it felt exactly the same as before. Rationally, I knew that it was impossible for this towel to be dirty. Yet I still felt like it was. I repeated the process.

And then repeated it.

And then repeated it.

And then repeated it.

I don’t remember how many I got up to, but it was almost ten. At the end of it, my hands were a roadmap of blood. And not a great roadmap, either. It was like Apple maps on launch day.

To avoid another incident, I eventually started keeping a towel in my room. I’d wash my hands in the bathroom, carefully open the door without putting my hands on it, then run straight to my towel.

I had a few rules for that towel, which I hung on a rack. If it fell off, it was dirty. If it touched the bath towel next to it, it was dirty. If anyone else touched it, it was dirty. If it got soaked in mud and then got splattered with spaghetti sauce, you guessed it. Dirty.

It remained like that until August, when I decided I’d finally try to ditch the system. Things had gotten a lot better since I was younger, and I thought it could be possible. Reluctantly, I washed my hands and reached for the towel hanging in the bathroom.

It still felt gross to touch, but I somehow refused the urge to wash my hands again. I left the room, trying to push the urge out of my head. After a few minutes went by, I noticed that it had somewhat passed. I knew that if I could last five minutes, I would be fine.

At the earliest opportunity, I took the towel out of my room.

I haven’t looked back since.

 

 

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