A British model describes her life-long battle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which since childhood has taken the form of an "other" living inside her and compelling her harmful thoughts and actions.
Bailey makes clear that the feeling of living with the disorder is not benign, and her greatest achievement with this book is to vividly depict the hellscape of a mind ravaged by severe OCD ... The book is almost entirely narrative-driven, with the only scientific exposition of OCD provided by Finch in her sessions with Bailey; for the most part, the reader lives with Bailey in the prison of her OCD-ridden mind. This makes the book one of the best I have read on the phenomenology of OCD ... Despite some jarring writerly missteps—a few dream sequences, presented in hackneyed fashion; that abrupt ending—the overall effect the book has on the reader is, first, one of overwhelming sympathy for the author, who has endured years of emotional torture perpetrated by her own mind. I hope this book finds a wide readership: It will offer solace to OCD sufferers who will understand that they are not alone and who might gain hope of remission; for other readers, it will provide a harrowing sense of what many OCD sufferers have to endure just to get through the day.
From her dorm beds to her hospital beds, 24-year-old Bailey tells her story with impressive frankness and eloquence. She recalls how severe her symptoms were, even in toddlerhood ... an expressive, droll, and evocative tale of mental illness. Bailey illustrates her adolescence, coloring it in with dreamy details and wry observations. Though the book is rife with her harrowing experiences, from obsessive fears that she might be a pedophile to psychiatric hospital stays, its overall effect is that of a late-night diner catch-up with a lovable friend. Bailey bares her soul, bouncing between distant dryness and overwhelming sincerity, and all you can do is keep listening while your coffee goes cold. Imagine Girl, Interrupted, as narrated by a very British version of Kristen Bell.
Often as chilling as Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar, but also full of so much inner and external turbulence that it reminded me at times of The Bourne Identity and Memento. Readers will root for Lily, even when she is attempting to run away from the realities—and sometimes authorities—chasing her. Lily's account of her OCD allows the reader to see exactly how obsessions can take over and ritualistic compulsions be created in an attempt to keep a chaotic reality in check. Compulsions which, ultimately, add to the anxiety rather than vanquish it ... the most engaging and well-written account of mental health experiences I have read and should be on the reading lists of courses for mental health professionals.