Ethan Bennett

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‘a little bit OCD’2022

“The exploration of one's psyche in Breton's surrealist automatism has inspired me to introspectively photograph myself. I see parallels with my own mental illness, such as the activation of the unconscious and the repression of disturbing thoughts. I have been dealing with OCD since I was 11, with my intense obsessions transitioning across a wide range of subjects, whether this be hygiene, morals or guilt. The compulsions created were never entirely debilitating until three years ago, when I went through the most traumatic experience of my life, realising the full extent of how OCD could destroy my entire being. Intrusive thoughts would enter my brain randomly, resulting in compulsions that forced me lose weight dramatically and led me to the point of insanity. My mind became the strongest muscle in my body, meticulously examining every single decision I made in life; I became a recluse and began talking to myself. OCD is trivialised and romanticised by the mainstream media, made out to be a desirable thing to have. This series of annotated images has been created to provide insight into my life during this period and combat society's warped misunderstanding of what OCD truly is”

Poem response:

OCD has gripped me ever since I was a young teenager, beginning as a fear of contamination and then evolving into intense, distressful intrusive thoughts that led to me being the judge, jury and executioner behind my own thoughts. The intrusive thoughts are the cause of the whole condition, all humans having them but people like me finding them shocking and shameful. They have no relation to who we are as human beings, however they make those with OCD feel like evil and rude. The thoughts pop in like electric sparks, with OCD constantly churning out the worst things you can think of. OCD prayed on my desire to be a good person and instead made me believe that I was everything that I hated. I could never shake myself away from these thoughts, at least not for long, before the blanket of thorns would embrace me once again, forcing me back into a repentant state. Repetition and order are not desirable in ones life, at least not in the way celebrities say on TV that they “are a little bit OCD”. We do not crave these things out of preference, enjoyment or to please others. It is due to the intense torture that we put ourselves through in order to reach a utopia that is impossible. I will never forget the physical toll the OCD took upon my body, the starving myself of normal sized portions and food to get me through the day. I lost weight, badly, looking like a shell of a man I was before. I became a ruminator, spending every waking moment evaluating what I had thought, searching for reasons to justify the thoughts that OCD was producing. I would deprive myself of certain foods, insisting on my own distorted view that I was greedy to the extreme. Two and a half years later, to think about the time I went through when OCD was at its worst, when I lived in the totalitarian dictatorship of my own mind, I still seek comfort from those who I love. I have rebuilt, I have reformed the confidence that I lost. OCD is not understood fully by anyone, even those who endure it. I refuse to ever go back to where I was.

©EthanBennettShoots Conceptual ArtistHampshire based