Books, Me, and OCD
“Can we please read Madeline tonight?” I asked as if I were a toddler asking to read her favorite book for the fifth time.
She ignored my pleas and excavated through the piles of clothes and books that littered the floor of my room. She came up with Eloise Takes a Bwath.
“For someone with OCD, your room is a disaster,” my mother said.
I ignored her comment; she knew that OCD didn’t work like that.
“We read Madeline the last two nights;” she declared, “it’s time for something different.”
She did have a point. We did need a new book, and Eloise was that new book.
We only made it through the first few pages that night. I kept getting s-t-u-c s-t-u stuck on the words. Starting and stopping, we read for an hour that night, and every night. She read aloud, and I listened, trying to form the words into sentences instead of grouping the letters into clusters of fives.
This counting of the letters interrupted my life the summer before my sophomore year when my great grandma had her second heart attack. Because I could not save my grandmother, I had to do the second best thing: make sure that every word that I saw or heard or thought had five letters in it.
Diagnosed in with OCD in 9th grade, I thought I had lived the hard chapter of my life. I had spent several months in therapy and was finally doing better, until my grandmothers got sick. In 9th grade, my OCD had been nothing more than a series of rituals in order to make sure that things felt just right. When my grandmother had a heart attack, my OCD turned into preventing her death. As my OCD became more intrusive, school became harder since all I was doing was counting, and I lost one of my favorite things, reading.
Mom and I never finished Eloise Takes a Bwath; we switched over to The Phantom Tollboothinstead since you can only read the first page ofEloise Takes a Bwath so many times before you cannot take it anymore. We slowly made our way through The Phantom Tollbooth.
As the harsh Florida winter ended, I was at a point where it was no longer necessary for me to be read to; I could finally read a book on my own, something I had not done since school had started back in August. Over the course of six months, I had gone from nearly illiterate to reading again.
My parents often say that they wished they could have made it all better, wished they could have made my OCD go away. Looking back, I am happy their wish did not come true. Although I am grateful that I am better and my OCD is managed, I am more grateful for what my OCD has given me. When I was diagnosed with OCD, I was given the choice to let it control my life or get my life back. Through therapy, I’ve been able to learn one of the most important things, that I have the power to change my life. Beyond learning the power I have to change, I’ve also made some of my closes friends because of my OCD. I’ve met an incredibly community through the International OCD Foundation’s Conference and was able to speak to kids with OCD on the Teen Success Panel. I feel like I was given this challenge in order to make something out of it. Because of this belief, I’ve started a nonprofit summer camp for kids with OCD. Since I had to fight to get my life back, I will make something out of the life I now have.