Thousands and thousands of love songs and poems have been written throughout the history of humanity. It must be very hard to think of an original way to express those intense feelings of love and pain¸ yet Neil Hilborn has managed to do just that, and even more.
Hilborn went to Macalester College and graduated with honours with a degree in Creative Writing. He and his team have often been finalists in poetry competitions where poets read their work aloud; but unlike other poets, he has OCD.
OCD is short for Obsessive–compulsive disorder. It is a illness where people feel the need to check things, have certain thoughts or feel they need to perform certain routines repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly.
In 2015 he won the 2013 Rustbelt Regional Poetry Slam with his poem ‘OCD’, which at times is funny but at times poignant and is even shocking in some ways. When I first heard it, the words ‘sad but beautiful’ came to my mind. Many people commented that it was a funny and humorous poem but it has a serious side; it makes people more aware of the difficulties for people who suffer from OCD.
When my friend watched the video of Hiborn giving a live recitation she commented that he was a good actor, but in fact, Hilborn wasn’t entirely acting, most of his tics and stuttering were involuntary.
OCD is often portrayed in the media as a rather quaint, quirky, idiosyncratic and endearing condition, but it is really a debilitating affliction of the mind which causes great suffering.
In the poem, through repetition and theatrics, Neil Hilborn paints a painful but beautiful image of being in a relationship while dealing with OCD and finds a powerful way to transform his disorder into a declaration of love. Two of the most common manifestations of OCD are a compulsive urge to switch the lights on and off repeatedly and check numerous times that the door is securely locked.
In Hilborn’s poem Love conquers Affliction; he closes the poem with the words: -
"I want her back so badly, I leave the door unlocked. I leave the lights on,"