Obsessed (Book Review)

A Memoir of My Life with OCD by Allison Britz

I was recently talking to one of my coworkers about mental illness- and when they opened up to me about theirs, I felt comfortable and inspired to open up about mine as well. While talking about our own unique mental illnesses, I realized that while I was diagnosed years ago with OCD- I don’t actually know much about the illness outside of my own experience of it. It prompted me to check out this new young adult book- Obsessed.

In the book, the author recounts her experience with OCD as a highschooler. I was fascinated to read about her experience- as there was so much overlap with my own experience- but also so much difference. Some of the main defining features of OCD include “intuiting” what is good and bad to keep you safe, and then acting out rituals to either avoid the things your brain has deemed dangerous that moment- or encouraging more of the things your brain has deemed life saving. Most of the time this has little to do with rational thought- and most people with OCD recognize this. But still, they can’t shake the reoccuring thoughts or the compulsions that follow them.

In the book, Allison gets to the point where she cannot function in her school or homelife anymore. She finally goes to a doctor- and realizes she has OCD and begins seeing a therapist. The therapist practices Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) in that a person is exposed to something that they fear, or are making rules in their head about, and they practice preventing themselves from falling into rituals to make themselves feel better.

Allison’s therapist explains to her:

“I think you’ll find, too, that we won’t need to do ERP on every single obsession on your list… typically, as you begin to loosen the hold of some of your obsessions, others kind of die off on their own. Collateral damage from ERP. One day, you will wake up and realize you are no longer bothered by grass, for example.”

The therapist also makes sure Allison is aware of the fact that, while they can work to lessen Allison’s symptoms from an OCD mindset- generally OCD will stick with a person for life- just as much as someone’s unique personality sticks with them. While it’s important to fight against OCD controlling your life, it’s also not helpful to try to make OCD disapear forever. It won’t.

After reading this book, I realized what a strange gift it was that I have a brain that functions in this specific way. And also the fact that I have the battle scars to prove that while I might fall- I have always found a way to pick myself back up and function in society. I like to think that I wouldn’t be the same person I am proud to be today, if it were not for my OCD mental illness. And it’s a reminder that nothing is ever just one thing- there are always multiple sides to the coin.

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© Copyright 2018 Annie Windholz

midwestern librarian, writer, activist. subscribe — http://eepurl.com/cZoiG9

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