Posted 20 hours ago

Obsessive, Intrusive, Magical Thinking: A Life Lived Obsessively

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Tenses would abruptly change for no reason, same or similarly-worded context would be reiterated multiple times throughout a piece, and, although stronger at the beginning, depictions of her conditions were 'told-not-shown' in rambling, disorganized lists (and not in a meta-mania way, which would have been really cool - like, take us inside! It’s a distinction that feels unnecessary, since the bulk of the essays follow a similar narrative arc: an obsession plagues the author; it sets her on a fractured, sometimes frustrated mode to healing; by the final paragraph, a mix of exposure therapy and self-realisation means the obsession is largely resolved.

I’m not a fan of a lot of the physical problems , like issues with my joints or stomach , that come with being autistic, either. In her candid, witty memoir, Marianne Eloise offers a powerful account of what it is like to feel trapped by mental health problems and obsessions . Thank you to NetGalley, Marianne Eloise and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.As a neurodivergent person myself, I found myself relating to the author a lot of the time - and when I didn't, her sense of humour and snide observations about the world around her made up for it. Long Live the New Flesh” opens with a cryptic poem the author wrote back in 2016: “There’s a television in my stomach / and I watch it nightly / at odds with my own body / as it shrinks, fades away. I understand this may be in part due to the nature of the author's brain, but a bit of editing wouldn't hurt. By the end of the book, reading about the author’s privileged time during the first Covid lockdown spent sunning herself in Lisbon, interspersed with a load of Portuguese history that I didn’t care to try to retain, I was ready to put the book down and move on. Obsessive, Intrusive, Magical Thinking is a culmination of a life spent obsessing, offering a glimpse into Marianne's brain, but also an insight into the lives of others like her.

I found a lot of things to relate but mostly what struck me is how different neurodivergent brains manifest and how the way we grow up shapes the experience again. I've been a fan (if that's the right word) of Marianne Eloise for a while - I feel like she was one of the first women my.

Would I like to feel more restful, or be able to try new foods or deviate from my strict routine without a meltdown?

i didn’t realise it was just a memoir in which the author recounts (a lot of actually quite unrelatable) times in her life such as countless days spent at disney world etc etc, as these are her obsessions. I was, sort of, enjoying this at the beginning as I felt like bits of me were scattered here and there. I related to this book but, frankly, her life just not interesting enough to hold-up an entire book. That said, I still recognised much of myself and some of my loved ones within her experiences and thought processes. Indeed, in a time when other accomplished essayists – Jia Tolentino, Cathy Park Hong, Melissa Febos – are using the essay form to convulse the boundaries between the personal and the political, Marianne Eloise has camped out firmly in the former.Fascinating, especially in a world which wants us neurodivergent women to have only one of two types of experiences. Whilst reading the first chapter I struggled to keep the tears from falling because I just felt so intensely seen and validated, and I must have highlighted the vast majority of every single page because the author kept hitting the nail right on its head perfectly over and over again. Even if you don't deeply identify with the content of the essays, they're a really good portrayal of neurodiversity in an entertaining and enjoyable way, especially considering how much autism and OCD are misunderstood by neurotypical people. I’ve lived with it (and probably autism too) for my whole life and I find that one of the worst things about it is struggling to communicate the horrors of it to other people; other people don’t know what OCD is and they don’t care to try to understand it. As someone who grew up in the same generation with the same interests as Marianne, I felt a real kinship with her throughout the book - from the pop culture references to incidental things that happened during her childhood growing up in a small English town.

While she claims “it’s impossible to gracefully tell the story of obsession”, the pull of “grace” is everywhere in the book, as struggle gives way to the inevitable triumph of wellness: the mental health epiphany. For years, the author flinches at public water (it’s unhygienic), recoils from images of Medusa’s scowl (gorgons turn people into stone), and is compelled to perform arbitrary tasks like burning calories and checking plug sockets to prevent catastrophe. It's within this ambivalent territory that Marianne Eloise’s debut essay collection-cum-memoir takes the stage. It’s probably more my own problem with desperately wanting someone’s experiences to mirror mine, but I feel like the first part of this book was like “listen to me, I’m like you, you try to hard to find people who can relate to you and FINALLY here’s one, you’re not alone” and then the rest of the book made me think “nah, scratch that, this person isn’t like me and it’s making me feel like a failure for not being able to do the things she’s doing, also, how is she managing to do them? It was less comedic than 'Pure', the only other OCD-focused memoir I have read; but I really enjoyed the tone and the author's personality through her words.

There is not much that could be considered widely applicable, even to those with the same conditions, as the author is telling specific anecdotes and exploring her own feelings rather than speaking in generalities.

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