Why "71º & Sunny?"

I consider 71º to be the perfect temperature. Not too cold and not too hot. I also love perfect sunny days. The vast majority of days are not 71º & Sunny and yet, all days were created by God's hand and they are still gifts, even if they don't fit my ridiculous definition of perfection. My struggle with OCD has at times imprisoned me in an impossible attempt to achieve perfection. I'm now learning to love all kinds of days that don't even come close to 71º & Sunny.

Please leave me a comment below. I really want to know what you are thinking!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Can't Believe It, But . . .

I actually touched a book!! I really have to give a HUGE shout out to my support group! Wow, they were there for me last night.

The Book
Before I left the house, my husband took me down to the basement and said, "Ok, it's time. Get a book." So I grabbed a plastic grocery bag, and while using it like a glove, I picked up a book and placed it, and my "glove" in another shopping bag. I then went to my group with my contaminated package. As soon as I showed up, I told everyone what was in the bag. Immediately, the group leader (who also happens to be a therapist) picked up my bag, took the book out, and held it. He then asked everyone if they would hold it and several fellow group members took turns holding it because they knew it would help me. Amazing. I was really touched. At that point, I had to hold the book - I couldn't disappoint them. So, I took it. You know what? As usual, the anticipatory anxiety was much worse than the reality. I did shed some tears. I'm not sure why. I think it was just all the pent up emotions I was experiencing.

Last night after group, like we do most meeting nights, we went to a local restaurant just to hang out and socialize a bit. I even took the book with me to the restaurant and, after a few tense minutes, placed it on the table next to me while I ate. When I got home, I put the book on the kitchen counter as my husband had suggested, where it is still sitting now.

I realize that this ERP is only partially done, however. I am now comfortable with this book, because so many others held it and told me that it was ok to hold it. The other books on the shelf still seem a bit scary to me. The best thing I can do is to take a different book every day, handle it, and put it on my kitchen counter. I need to keep doing this until the anxiety is gone. That makes me nervous just thinking about it. I'm not sure I will do this right away. I know I will do it though, eventually. The sooner, the better.

So there you have it. I also want to say a GIANT thank you to all of you who commented, and encouraged me, and reminded me to not be too hard on myself if I didn't go through with this ERP. Your constant support has been an incredible gift. I would never, ever, in a million years, have thought I could make true friendships in an online situation, but that is how I think of you all. Good night, dear Friends. God Bless.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Procrastination

I haven't touched a book yet. Yep, I'm a really bad procrastinator. My husband tried to get me to do it yesterday. He reminded me that I had until approximately 6:00 p.m. tonight to touch it before my support group meeting. Ugh. I really want to do it, but every time I start thinking about actually doing it, well . . .

I started bugging my hubby last night for lots of reassurance about stuff. His answer? "You're looking for reassurance and I won't give it to you. Support, yes. Hugs, yes. Love, yes. But no reassurance." I know he's right.

However, I really enjoyed it when later he was a little anxious about something and he asked me for reassurance. Guess what I said back to him? ha ha ha

Friday, August 24, 2012

Scared

It would be incredibly easy to maintain the status quo in my recovery from OCD. I have many time periods of little to no obsessions. I was just telling someone that I had several obsession free hours last evening. The level of my daily torment and pain has gone done significantly. In fact, I have many truly wonderful days now. The bad days are the exception. I am still struggling some with depression, but my anxiety feels well under control. Even when I do have anxiety attacks, they are usually short lived and I have the tools to work through them. These attacks no longer ruin my day and I am able to move on with whatever my previous plans were once the attack has subsided. Basically, I have lots of reasons to be satisfied with where I am in my progress.

That would be a big mistake. I have lived with anxiety long enough to know that if I am not fighting against it, I am allowing it an inroads to more control of my life. I don't believe an anxiety disorder stays stagnant. It's either getting worse or getting better. I cannot allow it to regain control ever again. I really don't think I could go through that. It's so hard though, to keep fighting. It's tiring and draining. Sometimes, I never want to hear those three letters ever again. But, like anyone with a chronic illness, I don't have a choice. Those three letters are just a fact of my life.

Scary books
Moving forward is really frightening. I don't want to force myself to feel anxiety anymore. My next ERP is something I've been putting off for a few months. It has to do with that awful finished basement (of course). In particular, at my support group leader's suggestion, I am going to attempt to take a book off of the "mousy" bookshelf (where some mouse droppings landed), put it in a bag, and carry it around with me all day so that I can randomly touch it over and over.

So far, I just can't bring myself to do it. I have another support group meeting on Monday night, and I don't want to show up again without having accomplished my goal. But I'm so afraid. I know that once I touch the book and touch other things, I can't undo it. I just read an article about a couple of people catching hantavirus. I don't want to be responsible for passing that around to others. Can I touch the book, then go to the grocery store without washing my hands? Can I shake someone else's hand? My husband washed the bookshelf with Lysol wipes and he also washed down the covers of all the books. However, he couldn't wash every single page in each book. What if there are remnants of rodent droppings that we can't see? I'm scared.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Next Obsession?

Yesterday, it was my turn to live mix the audio for the worship team at church services. I truly love this volunteer position. It is the perfect combination of technical skill and musical artistry. There is a tremendous amount of knowledge needed to run the sound board properly, and I’m only just in the beginning of learning. Additionally, a sound tech needs to have a good ear for music to get just the right sound mix. Of course, like anything artistic, there is a lot of personal preference involved, but hopefully the sound I arrive at is pleasing to most people and helps them enter into worship with God.

I wanted the sound tech position for many years. When a spot became available, I gladly jumped on board the team. However, I was a bit leery about taking the job, because I was afraid of how my OCD might interfere. When you run sound, you are in control of a lot of expensive equipment. Electrical equipment. You know, the kind that can start fires or electrocute people. You can imagine the worried and anxious thoughts that flew through my mind when I agreed to join the sound team. Thankfully, I can honestly say that my obsessions/compulsions about this have been minimal. I only occasionally re-check anything. Usually, it ends up being a pleasant (if not a little tiring) experience.

Until yesterday. You see, there is a family at my church that has the most adorable baby boy. I really love this kid. He’s smily and friendly, and he lets me hold him (I have OCD worries about that too - I’ll tell you about that some other time). Anyway, there is just something about this precious baby boy that I love. And there it is. OCD is really good about finding people or things that you care about, and twisting them into reasons for high anxiety.

We have three morning services at church. First service went smoothly. During second service, from my higher vantage point in the sound booth, I noticed this family and their baby out in the congregation. Then all of a sudden I got the thought (obsession) that I had the music too loud and that I was going to cause this boy to lose his hearing and go deaf. I unfortunately kept checking the decibel meter to make sure I was not running the sound too hot. Of course, it was ok - right around 88 dBs. I told myself this was just OCD and to ignore it. After service, I visited with my favorite little guy and his family, and all was fine.

Third service, I was again struck with the same obsession when I observed another family in the congregation holding their baby. Right away, I knew that OCD was stalking me. It was trying to steal the joy from me when I was serving God in a way that was also fun and fulfilling. I did, unfortunately, engage in a bit more compulsive checking of the decibel meter.

I’m a little worried about the next time I’m on the schedule to run audio. Ugh. I do not want this to be the next big obsession. I refuse to panic about this though. I know these are just thoughts and nothing else. I will force myself to run the equipment just like I normally do and I will fight every compulsion that comes my way. There is no other choice. That is the only way I will gain victory over this.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Today Is The Day


This is one of my favorite worship songs - "Today is the Day" (Baloche/Brewster), performed by Lincoln Brewster and his band. Whenever I get the opportunity to sing backup vocals for this song at church I literally have a hard time not jumping out of my skin, because it's such a great song to me for so many reasons.
I'm casting my cares aside; I'm leaving my past behind;
I'm setting my heart and mind on You, Jesus;
I'm reaching my hand to Yours, believing there's so much more;
knowing that all You have in store for me is good, is good.

Chorus:
Today is the day You have made; I will rejoice and be glad in it;
today is the day You have made, I will rejoice and be glad in it,
I won't worry about tomorrow, I'm trustin' in what You say;
today is the day; today is the day. 
I'm putting my fears aside; I'm leaving my doubts behind;
I'm giving my hopes and dreams to You, Jesus;
I'm reaching my hand to Yours, believing there's so much more;
knowing that all You have in store for me is good, it's good.

Chorus

Bridge:
I will stand upon Your truth, (I will stand upon Your truth),
all my days I'll live for You, (all my days I'll live for You).
I will stand upon Your truth, (I will stand upon Your truth),
all my days I'll live for You, (all my days I'll live).

Chorus

I won't worry about tomorrow; I'm giving You my fears and sorrows;
where You lead me, I will follow;
I'm trustin' in what You say, today is the day; today is the day.
As someone who struggles with uncontrollable anxiety and doubt, these lyrics are very meaningful and speak directly to me. The best part, is that since I've gone through treatment (CBT/ERP), and I have worked on my relationship with the Lord, I can sing these lyrics with joyful abandonment knowing that they really do apply to me now. I'm choosing to trust in what God says, because I believe that He is good and what He has in store for me is good - even if I can't see that right now.

Hope you enjoy the song!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Big Takeaway

If you want to get better from OCD, or from most anxiety disorders, you must perform Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). Period. For me, that was the big takeaway from the IOCF Annual Conference in Chicago last month.

Yes, mindfulness, Cognitive Therapy, deep breathing, and any other number of therapies can be very helpful and even necessary in combating anxiety. However, these tools need to be used in conjunction with ERP. The other therapies can help give you the motivation and the understanding of how and why to fight anxiety, but they are only part of the answer.

ERP is extremely frightening to those of us with anxiety disorders, because it means we have to face the very things we are so afraid of. It’s important to note, though, that ERP doesn’t mean jumping into the deep end of the pool, head first, with no flotation device or lifeguard to help us out. ERP can be done in small and attainable steps, and when done with the aid of an appropriately trained and educated professional, it is something that is very achievable. Difficult, painful, sometimes slow going, but very achievable. The most important thing is that ERP works. Eventually, with practice, ERP becomes less difficult and significantly less painful.

Can you do ERP on your own? Sure. If you choose this route, I would recommend that you read up as much as you can on OCD treatment so that you have an idea of how to proceed. (You could look at this year's IOCF conference program guide to see the names of all the 2012 presenters. Many of them are tops in the field of anxiety disorders treatment and have written books on OCD. When I Googled "International Obsessive Compulsive Foundation 19th Annual Conference Program Guide" it came up as the 2nd link as a pdf that I could click on.) It would probably be more difficult and take longer to do ERP without a therapist, but it is not impossible. I am not a very disciplined person, and I knew that I would never get enough traction to fight OCD on my own, so that is why I enlisted the help of a psychologist. I do not regret that decision. I would never have made the progress that I did without her constant encouragement and help fighting the cognitive distortions that so tangled my thinking.

Several times at the conference, I heard that ERP is still the gold standard for treating anxiety. It has a record of working. Another really great thing about ERP is that it can be tailored for each person’s individual fears. Someone with intrusive thoughts will not perform the same types of ERP as someone with contamination fears. Another patient with symmetry issues will certainly have different looking ERPs compared to someone who struggles with scrupulosity. This is also why a medical professional can be of tremendous support and guidance. A therapist can help you think of out of the box ways to create ERPs that are small and bite-sized to help you fight your anxiety, one little step at a time.

Why not try ERP? What have you got to lose, besides your terrifying and paralyzing fears?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Even Dressing Rooms Can Seem Dangerous

Can someone please tell me when it became acceptable for men to accompany their wives/girlfriends into female fitting rooms? This weekend, I went to a large department store to purchase a pair of jeans. While I was in the dressing room, I noticed a man and a woman enter as well. I try really hard to be a non-complaining person. No one likes a whiner, but this is the second time in this past month that I have seen this. I had to say something.

When the couple walked in, I said to them, “You know, this is a women's fitting room.” They responded, “Yeah, we know.” The guy then said, “I’m just gonna wait out here in the hallway area [in front of the changing stalls].” I then responded, “Well, guys don’t usually hang out in this area.” To which they completely blew me off. I then walked out of the dressing room. I was not happy. An employee happened to be walking by, and I told her that there was a guy in the dressing room. She went into the dressing room and told the guy that he had to wait outside because there was a customer complaining (thanks for throwing me under the bus, lady!). I don’t think he was very pleased.

Perhaps you think I’m making too big of a deal about this. Maybe I am. However, I think a woman should feel comfortable in a dressing room without having to worry about some man being in there. Often times, women will leave the stalls to compare clothes with a friend or family member in another stall. Trying clothes on is hard enough without that extra stress. Not only that, but sometimes little girls are in there too. It’s simply not appropriate. So, I said something.

Of course, my OCD mind had a little fun with this. I started to obsess that this man would be angry with me, and follow me to beat me up. Or, even worse, I was afraid that he would be furious with the store employee, and that he might kill her. Yes, I actually panicked about him killing her. I began to doubt whether I made the right decision about complaining. I started planning how I would have to read all the online news (a compulsion, of course) in the next few days to make sure the employee didn’t get murdered. Sigh. I will not, I will not, I will not read online news looking for the fate of this poor employee. Oh, OCD mind - I hate you!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Good For Us, Good For Them

Recently, my husband and I went back to Boston for our occasional meetings with the CBT marriage counselor. Probably the biggest lesson I learned from this latest session is that I need to be very careful about letting myself slide backwards with the OCD.  It’s really tempting to think, “Oh, well if I give in to this compulsion, it’s no big deal. It will only hurt me and no one else.” I'm discovering that’s really not true. Every time I give in, I allow my anxiety to get a further foothold on my mind. When this happens, according to this new psychologist of mine, it takes away energy that I could be putting towards my marriage. Not only that, when I give in to OCD, my world tends to shrink. Meaning, that I tend to spend less time doing “normal” things, and it snowballs and I start doing more OCD things. This of course, strongly impacts my husband. Unfortunately, it is really easy to think that much of what we do has no bearing on others around us. 

Apparently, my husband loves it when I participate in healthy activities. This year, I planted a lot of flowers in front of our house. I didn’t know it until my husband admitted this in our session, but he likes it when I'm outside playing with the flowers. It makes him feel good to see me digging in the dirt and just “living.” He knows that when I’m really living, that I will be healthier, and that our relationship will be healthier. This also takes some of the burden off of him, because when I’m living more normally, I am much less dependent upon him. I know he feels a lot of responsibility for my mental health, and anything I can do to lessen that concern for him is a win-win for both of us. Who would have thought that just playing with some flowers could help my marriage?

What little healthy thing can you do that is good (and hopefully fun) for you, and thereby good for everyone who loves you?


Monday, August 6, 2012

Phone Paranoia

Screenshot of my phone
I really dislike using the word paranoia. It just seems so . . . I don't know, crazy? I dislike even more that it applies to me, but the truth is, it does. I don't want to give you the impression that I'm looking for enemies behind every tree and bush, because I'm not. Every now and then, however, some mild paranoia seems to be a part of my OCD. Is that normal for everyone who struggles with OCD? I don't know, but it does not seem particularly unusual, according to my own experience with others who have OCD.

The phone. A scary device for me. Don't get me wrong. I love to talk on the phone. I love all the little apps I can download on my phone. I love playing Words with Friends, and being able to check Facebook and my blog from my phone. The GPS app I downloaded is great, and that flashlight app? Let's just say that it helped me find my stray eyeglass lens hiding under my car in the dark of night.

My big fear, though, is that my phone is not properly hung up. Oh, how I obsess about my phone not being hung up! You see, over a decade ago, I had a flip-type cell phone. I was trying to call someone on that phone, but I couldn't get a clear signal. So I finally hit the off button and cancelled my call. Or so I thought. I found out later that the call did indeed go through, and the person on the other end heard me saying something that I did not want them to hear. I was mortified! It pretty much ruined my weekend, because I was obsessing (and mentally compulsing) about it the whole time. The sad part is that my husband and I were away that weekend and staying at a bed and breakfast. It should have been a relaxing time for the two of us. I think my husband still enjoyed it because I hid my torment, but my stomach was churning for the entirety of that weekend. More time stolen from me by OCD.

Since then I have been fairly paranoid about phones in general. After I complete a call, I almost always double check for a dial tone, and many times, I will then call my home number, in order to clear out the last number dialed. Of course, this is all compulsive behavior. Many times my husband will look at me with "that look." You know, the look that says, "I know you are performing a compulsion right now, I do not approve, and do not ask me to help you with it because I will not enable you." I get it. I know he's right. But I can't stop.

Just today, I was on the phone with my mom. A few minutes after I hung up with her, I got a call from another family member. Apparently, I had "butt dialed" this person after I hung up with my mom, and left a voice mail of me having a conversation with my husband. Thankfully, it is a family member that I am close to and the conversation between my husband and myself was just normal, daily stuff. Still - I am once again horrified, especially because I did not think this could happen with my new phone!

I know what I'm supposed to do for an ERP with this issue. Make phone calls, hang up once, and not double check anything. I can honestly say that I am not there yet, and tonight's incident only reinforces my issues with the phone. Bummer.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Matters Of Faith

Please bear with me. This is a long post. There is just so very much I wanted to say about this subject. In particular, I want to address my fellow believers who suffer so much because they feel that their illness somehow means they are a failure in the family of God.

I sin. Sometimes, the fact that I sin has literally driven me crazy. You see, as a Christ follower, I know that my goal is to not sin (behavior that offends God). Of course, I’m human, and so I will sin. At certain points, though, I have been unable to deal with this. I don’t think my sins are anything unusual. Sort of the run of the mill stuff. Not that any sin is run of the mill to God, but I think you know what I mean. However, I have often felt like the most hideous human being to walk the face of the earth. I have been just sure that other Christians would find out about “the evil that lurks in my heart” and that I would be rejected by them and everyone around me. As I’ve begun to recover from OCD, thankfully, my somewhat mild issues with scrupulosity have started to improve as well.

Unlike a lot of scrupulosity sufferers, I’ve never been the type of person to repeat prayers, or religious rituals, over and over again, in an effort to please God or to get my religious behaviors “just right.” (I’ve always said that I have the lazy man’s form of OCD. I will just do mental compulsions about what a horrible person I am. I’m too lazy to actually do a lot of physical compulsions!) I know that lots of OCD sufferers are however, in a terrible cycle of doing just that. However, even though my OCD is improving, there is still a lot of pain about my mental illness and how that relates to my relationship with my Lord.

Last weekend, at the IOCDF Annual Conference, I was blessed to come in contact with a man by the name of Ted Witzig, Jr., Ph.D. Mr. Witzig is not only a psychologist who understands OCD, and scrupulosity in particular, but he is also a practicing minister. In addition to sitting in on his workshop on Friday, I also attended the scrupulosity support group that he moderated on Friday night. I was able to ask him a couple of questions that were literally burning a hole in my heart. I know it is important for me to remember that he is just a man, not God Himself. However, I do believe Mr. Witzig has some wisdom that I can learn from.

In particular, I asked him about Matthew 5:48. I got the impression from what he was saying that Matthew 5:48 is more about growing in maturity and becoming more Christlike, not so much about achieving actual perfection itself. I also suspect that maybe Matthew 5:48 is in the Bible, because this is God's way of showing us what His standard is, and that we can't achieve it without Jesus.

The  other question, and the one that really bothered me, was about this whole issue of demon possession vs. mental illness. I am ashamed to admit, as a fellow Christ follower, that I have heard more than once that some Christians feel that mental illness is more of a spiritual problem, rather than any kind of biological illness. Wow, that hurts. I don’t of course, believe this, but . . . I have OCD and it is not called The Doubting Disease for nothing. Deep down, underneath the surface, I have slightly, maybe, occasionally, wondered if this was true. Maybe my mental illness is just a spiritual failure on my part. Of course, if that were true, it would be difficult to explain my first signs of illness as a 6 month old, and later as a 2 and 3 year old. Not only that, I would be hard pressed to explain how medication and CBT/ERP has helped me, if it was only a spiritual issue.

Don’t get me wrong. I do believe there is a spiritual component to my illness, as I believe there is a spiritual component to everything in the world. We live in a fallen world. Because of sin in this world, nothing (including our brains) works the way it was intended to. Not only that, there are times when I sin and don’t do what I should to improve my mental health. I do have some responsibility for my recovery. However, and this is a big however, I did not cause my illness, nor did you. I didn’t ask for it, and I sure don’t want it. I feel fairly certain that I can say the same for you.

More importantly, I do not believe our illnesses have anything to do with demon possession. Frankly, it feels really stupid to write that out, because it’s so beyond ridiculous. Recently, a respected Christian organization essentially stated that mental illness and demon possession were related (at least in the particular Bible verses they were referring to). I was honestly shocked. That brought my little doubts back to mind. When I saw Mr. Witzig last weekend, I asked him if he had heard of Christians equating demon possession with mental illness. His answer: “All the time.” I could hardly believe my ears. I asked him what he thought about this. He stated that in his opinion and in his belief system, he believed that was not true. It felt so good to hear it from someone who not only is a psychologist, but is a minister too. I had to stop myself from sobbing tears of relief in front of the whole group. I really praise God that I came across Mr. Witzig, because it was a blessing to find someone who understands both of the worlds that I live in: Christianity and mental illness.

I am blessed to attend the church that I do. Thankfully, my church is filled with regular people (who sin, just like me), but they are people that truly love God and try to live that out with others around them. They are also educated enough to understand that mental illness is just that, an illness. I have not encountered any stigma or discrimination with my fellow believers. Several members of my church staff (including the Senior Minister) are well aware of my illness, and do not hold it against me, nor have they treated me any differently since finding out.

Sadly, that is not the case for many others I have spoken to. This is one of the main reasons I started this blog. I want to show the world that yes, you can indeed be a true follower of Jesus and still struggle with ugly things like mental illness. I want to help dispel ignorance about mental illness in the greater world, and especially in the church setting. I want this blog to be a safe place for those of you who have felt rejected by fellow believers because of something you have no control over having. Please, don't give up on God, just because some of His followers say hurtful things. God has given us free will and sometimes, we don't use it very well. In addition, if someone has had no previous experience with mental illness, well, it can make it difficult for them to understand.

You are precious. You are loved by God. You are not defective, or less of a believer than anyone else. You and I have our struggles, yes, but so does everyone else. Our struggles just look a little different. I pray God’s blessings on you and I pray that you find a group of believers who will love you just as you are. You are worth it. God says so. He wouldn’t have sent His Son, Jesus, if that weren’t true.

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:14-21 NIV (Emphasis mine.)

Amen to that.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Book Review - "I Hardly Ever Wash My Hands: The Other Side Of OCD" by J.J. Keeler

TLC Book Tours asked me to write a review of J.J. Keeler’s book, “I Hardly Ever Wash My Hands: The Other Side of OCD,” which was published in 2012 by Paragon House, St. Paul, Minnesota. This book is a memoir dealing with Ms. Keeler’s experience of living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and it is 173 pages long in soft cover format.

I have a read a few memoirs on OCD, and this is one of the better books on the subject. It is an easy and relatively quick read. This does not mean that the book is simplistic or filled with fluff. Rather, Ms. Keeler’s writing style is accessible to the average reader and very relatable to people afflicted with OCD, regardless of the particular types of obsessions and compulsions burdening them.

The book follows a somewhat chronological order of Ms. Keeler’s life, from childhood through adulthood, though it does jump back and forth some. The author also tries to separate the chapters by particular obsessions, hence the reason why it sometimes jumps around time-wise. It is not hard to follow.

I appreciate that someone without contamination OCD has written a book about their struggles. Too often, OCD is known only as the washing disease, and this can lead to misdiagnosis and a misunderstanding of this tricky illness. Even Ms. Keeler herself at first rejected the notion of having OCD because as she said in her own words “I can’t have OCD. I hardly ever wash my hands,” (pg. 156). Specifically, the author struggled with checking compulsions, violent/harm obsessions, hyper-responsibility/hyper-morality, and Hit and Run OCD.
J.J. Keeler

I also liked the positive, upbeat nature of the book. Ms. Keeler is witty, and I even giggled out loud to myself at a few of her comments. This is not to say that the author downplays the fear, torment, and pain of OCD. It is very clear from her reminiscences that she has suffered tremendously. I applaud Ms. Keeler because she does not seem to dwell on what she has lost. However, I would have liked to get a little more insight into the author’s recovery process as it was glossed over rather quickly.

Scattered throughout the text, there are cartoonish-style side notes that Ms. Keeler terms “Random OCD Facts,” which are helpful tidbits of information about OCD. In addition, she finishes the book with a chapter entitled, “Dear Friend,” where she provides some basic information and encouragement to fellow sufferers to give them a bit of guidance through the maze of mental illness.

The only disappointment I had with the book is that there is a handful of profanities (roughly ten or so times), generally located in the first few chapters of the book. They are mostly f-words and one very crude term for a body part. Completely unnecessary in any book, in my little 'ole opinion.

Naughty bits of language aside, I liked “I Hardly Ever Wash My Hands.” It is an honest portrayal of someone living with the horrors of OCD, and yet it is not depressing or hopeless in any way. I believe most people with OCD would connect with Ms. Keeler’s struggle, and moreover, I think this book would be a good primer for those uninitiated to the world of OCD.

My only compensation was a free (autographed!) copy of “I Hardly Ever Wash My Hands: The Other Side of OCD,” in exchange for my honest book review.