Extract from Pure.
I choose a world-renowned OCD therapist in New York. I’m due to have Skype sessions once a week for however long it takes. I don’t know whether it’ll be better than the other therapies I’ve experienced, endured, but I’ve gotta gamble. Things have never been more fucked. I am at the apex of fuckery and if I fall this time – I don’t know, I don’t know – je suis complètement fuckée.
The sessions are £100 a pop and I can’t afford them. So I make money writing bullshit for bullshit web start-ups with bullshit concepts – mobile hive swapping and digital data hounding and social data-hive crowd-mapping – which will make someone a lot of money but which are dry and bodiless. The bullshittiest gig of all is writing self-help content for a media behemoth.
On a typical morning I get out of bed in tears and eat brie straight off the block while contemplating not being alive, before sitting down in the dark to write a 1000-word piece of life-advice called ‘Be Successful’ or ‘Make Friends Easily’ or ‘Achieve Job Satisfaction’. At the height of its popularity the resulting e-book is downloaded 15,000 times a day. When I read a trumpeting email from my boss telling me that my job role now has an official title, I sit in my knickers laughing blackly, spraying clods of shortbread at the screen. I grab my phone to text Jack: ‘FYI, I am now officially a “Life Coach Editor”.’
But despite my professional whoring, the £400-a-month therapy bill renders me more skint than I’ve ever been, and I revel in it, delectably traipsing the aisles of the Turkish mart downstairs and counting out the change on the counter. One day they give me some BBQ Beef Hula Hoops on credit and I am thrilled. I don’t know. I guess physical discomfort offers a concrete-and-upright worry amid the mental dereliction.
The whole Skype thing is pretty awkward, given my paper thin bedroom walls and the mouse-like demeanour of my sweet and kind French housemates. Every Monday evening before the therapy session I put on the washing machine in the kitchen next door so that when they come home they won’t hear me over its whirring – won’t hear the throes of yet another boob-induced panic attack as they chow down on their tartes-aux-whatevers. I wash heavy denim items with buckles and rivets, for their superior clatter.
Exposure therapy in the treatment of sexually-orientated OCD aims to gradually habituate you to anxiety-prompting sexual content. Over the months my therapist will feed me with more and more explicit images and video moving right up to hardcore stuff, sexual pandemonium, utter havoc, and right now I don’t feel like I’ll ever get there. But I will, I’ll be a diligent student, gold star-worthy. Eventually, towards the end of therapy, I’ll watch so much smut that I’ll be able to identify the production company by the luxuriance of the pubic muffs, or lack thereof.
But for now my therapist and I have agreed that sexual pictures of actual humans will send my anxiety levels soaring too high, so we start with cartoons. This is when I feel most pathetic, when I slump down after therapy and don’t get up for hours because an amateur pencil sketch of a naked Betty Boop, drawn by some sex-starved virgin far away, has made me cry.
Life Coach Editor. Fuck yeah!
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