Yesterday I posted an OCD fiction booklist for teens, featuring realistic main characters with OCD. Today, I’ve pulled together a list of OCD Memoirs for teens. I have found that while fiction is great for some things, often when a teen of mine is trying to work through something, they want to know that someone else has gone down the same path before. It matters to them when it’s a real life situation that there is a real person out there that has suffered through the same thing- while they can escape a crappy day in YA fiction, when they want to learn about an illness or a career, they often ask for biographies or memoirs more than “How to be a …” books.
So, for those teens out there, I’ve pulled together a list of OCD Memoirs. If you know of more, please share in the comments!
Devil in the Details: Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood by Jennifer Traig: When her father found the washing machine crammed with everything from her sneakers to her barrettes, 12-year-old Jennifer Traig had a simple explanation: they’d been tainted by the pork fumes emanating from the kitchen and had to be cleansed. The same fumes compelled Jennifer to meticulously wash her hands for 30 minutes before dinner: All scrubbed in for your big casserolectomy, Dr. Traig? her mother asked. It wasn’t long before her family’s exasperation made Jennifer realize that her behavior had gone beyond fastidious–in her own eyes, she’d gone from quirky girl to raving lunatic. Little, Brown and Company, 2004. ISBN: 9780316158770.
Amen, Amen, Amen: Memoir of a Girl Who Couldn’t Stop Praying by Abby Sher: Until the age of ten, Abby Sher was a happy child in a fun-loving, musical family. But when her father and favorite aunt pass away, Abby fills the void of her loss with rituals: kissing her father’s picture over and over each night, washing her hands, counting her steps, and collecting sharp objects that she thinks could harm innocent pedestrians. Then she begins to pray. At first she repeats the few phrases she remembers from synagogue, but by the time she is in high school, Abby is spending hours locked in her closet, urgently reciting a series of incantations and pleas. If she doesn’t, she is sure someone else will die, too. The patterns from which she cannot deviate become her shelter and her obsession. Scribner, 2009. ISBN: 9781416589457.
Passing for normal: a Memoir of Compulsion by Amy S. Wilensky: I am crazy. But maybe I am not. For most of her life, this thought haunted Amy Wilensky as she watched her body do things she couldn’t control, repeatedly twitching and contorting into awkward positions. Her mind lurched and veered in ways she didn’t understand: She felt that she must touch wood at all times to ward off harm, that chewing a wad of stale gum would prevent a plane crash. Why couldn’t she throw away meaningless scraps of paper? Why were six-word sentences strangely satisfying? Broadway (first print edition), 1999. ISBN: 9780767901857.
Just Checking: Scenes from the Life of an Obsessive-Compulsive by Emily Colas: Emily Colas — young, intelligent, well-educated wife and mother of two — had a secret that was getting in the way of certain activities. Like touching people. Having a normal relationship with her husband. Socializing. Getting a job. Eating out. Like leaving the house. Soon there was no interval in her life when she was not just checking. Washington Press (first edition), 1999. ISBN: 9780671024383.
Check Mates: A Collection of Fiction, Poetry and Artwork About Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, by People with OCD by E. I. Muse, et al.: Check Mates is an original collection of fiction and poetry written about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder by the people who know best – Obsessive-Compulsives. Split between ‘realism’ and stories of the ‘beyond’, there is a diverse range of styles and genres, and a mix of rage, frustration, tears, violence, pain, heartache, subversion,love, strength, metaphysics, philosophy, friendship, hope, and even a bit of humour. And maybe – just maybe – it will knock away a few stereotypes. Conditional Publications, 2010. ISBN: 9780956452900.
Nowhere Near Normal: a Memoir of OCD by Traci Foust: When all the neighborhood kids were playing outdoors, seven-year-old Traci Foust was inside making sure the miniature Catholic saint statues on her windowsill always pointed north, scratching out bald patches on her scalp, and snapping her fingers after every utterance of the word God. As Traci grew older, her OCD blossomed to include panic attacks and bizarre behaviors, including a fear of the sun, an obsession with contracting eradicated diseases, and the idea that she could catch herself on fire just by thinking about it. While stints of therapy — and lots of Nyquil — sometimes helped, nothing alleviated the fact that her single mother and mid-life crisis father had no idea how to deal with her. Gallery Books, 2014. ISBN: 9781439192511.
Rewind Replay Repeat: A Memoir of Obessive Compulsive Disorder by Jeff Bell: Nagging doubt: It’s a part of everyday life. Who hasn’t doubled back to check on a door or appliance? But what if one check wasn’t enough? Nor two or three? And what if nagging doubt grew so intense that physical senses became all but useless? Hazelden Publishing, 2007. ISBN: 9781592853717.
Triggered: A Memoir of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder by Fletcher Wortmann: Imagine the worst thing in the world. Picture it. Construct it, carefully and deliberately in your mind. Be careful not to omit anything. Imagine it happening to you, to the people you love. Imagine the worst thing in the world. Now try not to think about it. St. Martin’s Press, 2012. ISBN: 9780312622107.
Here’s the Deal: Don’t Touch Me by Howie Mandel: Howie Mandel is one of the most recognizable names in entertainment. But there are aspects of his personal and professional life he’s never talked about publicly—until now. Twelve years ago, Mandel first told the world about his “germophobia.” He’s recently started discussing his adult ADHD as well. Now, for the first time, he reveals the details of his struggle with these challenging disorders. He speaks candidly about the ways his condition has affected his personal life—as a son, husband, and father of three. Random House, 2010. ISBN: 978-055338665.
The Man Who Couldn’t Stop by David Adam: Have you ever had a strange urge to jump from a tall building or steer your car into oncoming traffic? You are not alone. In this captivating fusion of science, history, and personal memoir, David Adam explores the weird thoughts that exist within every mind, and how they drive millions of us toward obsession and compulsion. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015. ISBN: 9780374223953.