OCD Memoirs: Three Recent Contributions

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is usually familiarly known as OCD in today’s parlance, but until recently OCD memoirs have been scarce. Below are three worth considering:

I. Lily Bailey, Because We Are Bad (2018)

Bailey is a British model. From the publisher’s blurb: “By the age of thirteen, Lily Bailey was convinced she was bad. She had killed someone with a thought, spread untold disease, and ogled the bodies of other children. Only by performing an exhausting series of secret routines could she make up for what she’d done. But no matter how intricate or repetitive, no act of penance was ever enough.”

Excerpt from Kirkus Reviews: “As a child, the author privately referred to herself as ‘we.’ However, the girl that ‘shared’ Bailey’s mind was no imaginary friend: she was the ‘other’ who drove her to check on her sleeping sister several times a night, wash her hands to rawness, and mentally repeat elaborate ‘prayer[s].’ She existed to ensure that Bailey carried out rituals as ‘protection against everything going wrong’ and make up for all her real and imagined mistakes…”

After significant struggles, therapy eventually helped her manage her condition.

II. Shala Nicely, Is Fred in the Refrigerator? (2018)

As a child Nicely had “nightly rituals” to deal with horrifying thoughts. “…(S)he knew to obey her mind’s Rule #1: keep its secret, or risk losing everything and everyone she loved.”

More from the publisher: “It would be almost two decades before she learned the name of the menacing monster holding her hostage…It would take years longer to piece together the keys to recovery that would change her life forever, beginning with the day she broke her monster’s silence.”

And now Nicely is a therapist specializing in treatment of this disorder. In addition to writing this memoir, she’s also the co-author of Everyday Mindfulness for OCD: Tips, Tricks, and Skills for Living Joyfully (2017).

III. David Adam, The Man Who Couldn’t Stop (2015)

From the publisher’s blurb: “David Adam…has suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder for twenty years, and The Man Who Couldn’t Stop is his unflinchingly honest attempt to understand the condition and his experiences. In this riveting and intimate blend of science, history, and memoir, Adam explores the weird thoughts that exist within every mind and explains how they drive millions of us toward obsession and compulsion.”

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