Trigger Warning: This article discusses a specific person’s experiences with mention of mental health issues related to OCD, depression, anxiety, and a suicide attempt, as a result of the mention of the causal traumatic experience.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a disorder that causes intrusive thoughts and compulsions, which lead to rituals. However detailed your knowledge of OCD is, it’s important to recognize how society has stigmatized the disorder. OCD is not about being clean or organized– in fact, those are far from the truth.
Sometimes OCD is a routine like turning a light switch on and off a certain number of times, touching every wall you see, or walking up and down the stairs. The worst compulsions are the ones you can’t see, hear, or touch. These thinking rituals are just as harmful as visible rituals. This can include repeating the same word or phrase or thinking of a particular image over and over. These thoughts and images aren’t welcomed and at times, can make you feel like you’re losing control.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve dealt with all of the symptoms listed above. I have OCD, and I battle every single day to keep it under control by going to therapy and taking the appropriate amount of medication. I’ve always wondered, though: what else can help me and others dealing with OCD? Through the love of reading, we can learn, understand, and immerse ourselves in a world similar to ours—one that properly characterizes OCD.
Here are nine books about OCD, including self-help books, memoirs, and fictional stories.
1. Don’t Believe Everything You Think by Joseph Nguyen
OCD stems from intrusive thoughts. Instead of acting on these compulsions or worrying yourself to bits, take a look at Joseph Nguyen’s self-help book, Don’t Believe Everything You Think. In this book, you’ll learn how to expel your suffering and create ways to live in the moment.
Whether you have OCD or a correlating disorder, you’ll come to understand the root of all psychological and emotional suffering and how to dismantle it. Not to mention, you’ll be provided tools to feel unaffected by negative thoughts and feelings. This book also shows ways of experiencing life, breaking the negative thought loop, how to loosen your anxiety and self-doubt, and lessen self-sabotage cycles. Most importantly, you’ll come to understand that it’s okay not to know all the answers—trust your gut.
Whatever your past is made of, it doesn’t define you. This is something I tell myself on a daily basis. We can find peace together only if we try. Nguyen is not trying to rewrite you but rather expand your mind to new outlooks on life.
2. “Pure O” OCD by Chad LeJeune, PhD
Pure OCD, also known as “Pure O,” is considered the most lethal of all the subcategories of OCD. It’s characterized by intrusive thoughts, images, or urges without any visible compulsive storms. Rather, they can have obsessive worries, regrets, or uncertainty.
Their compulsions are hidden through seeking reassurance, avoidance, or torturing thought rituals. This can ultimately lead to some trouble, as making decisions can be clouded by fear and compulsions, tainting one’s value. Even trying to actively stop the thought or sometimes change the observed thought could lead to more anxiety and stress.
This feels like a hopeless disorder, right? On the contrary, nothing could be further from the truth. Chad Lejeune’s “Pure O” OCD helps readers accept and begin acceptance commitment therapy (ACT). It also discusses the process of “cognitive fusion” that leads to this obsessive thinking, as well as ways to avoid or take control of these recurring thoughts by flipping into a positive feedback loop.
He uses five skills: labeling, letting go, acceptance, mindfulness, and proceeding with purpose by confronting the struggle and worry. With a little help, you can find yourself changing your views on your anxiety and obsessive thoughts, responding with your values, and proceeding through life with a different view.
3. LIVING WITH OCD by CROSS BORDER BOOKS
In this book, you will come to understand that OCD is a lot more common than you think and that you can succeed at anything you put your mind to.
Inside the book expect to see:
The causes of OCD.
The functions and what happens if you try to suppress it.
How to identify and get rid of irrational thoughts without having to suppress your emotions.
Different exercises that lessen the symptoms of OCD.
15 breathing techniques that reduce stress and anxiety.
4. The Man Who Couldn’t Stop by David Adam
There are many people with peculiar compulsions— such as a girl eating a piece of her wall or a man becoming a compulsive hoarder. These people are real and are battling their OCD every single day. An accomplished science writer and fellow editor at Nature, David Adam has suffered from OCD for 20 years. He holds nothing back in his memoir, The Man Who Couldn’t Stop.
He tries to understand the condition and his overall experiences living with OCD. This book has a blend of science, history, and an intimate look into his life. Adam shares the weird thoughts that exist within every mind and how they drive millions of people toward obsession and compulsion. It’s important to note everyone has intrusive thoughts. Some people can brush it off, while others adopt an obsession and compulsion to alleviate the “weird thoughts.”
5. Just Checking by Emily Colas
Emily Colas is a young, smart, and well-educated wife and a mother of two, but she had a secret that was becoming more and more difficult. She had to stop doing certain activities. Such as touching people, having a normal relationship with her husband, making friendships, getting a job, eating out, or even leaving the house. In Just Checking she shows the twisted journey of having OCD.
It started off small, with germs and food. But it began to evolve into hobbies such as her daily hair cutting and insistent inspections of her children’s clothing for bloodstains. Although this book tackles emotion, it is shocking and hilarious to any young reader who is struggling with OCD. Colas’ expose is a soul-turner yet oozes with hope and humor.
6. PURE OCD by Chrissie Hodges
At a young age, Chrissie developed delusions that God was punishing her with bad thoughts and behaviors because she had done something sinful. On the outside, Chrissie was a perfect child— smart, popular, athletic, and devoutly religious. However, inside her mind, she was terrified of vomiting and had sexual obsessions that transcended into consuming mental rituals she kept hidden from her family. All her life, she was afraid of letting God down and the horrible contents of her obsessions, so she kept these thoughts to herself for 12 years.
By the time she was 20, Chrissie was unable to keep up the facade that everything was okay when her depression began to weigh her down. Chrissie attempted suicide but, fortunately, survived. Chrissie then found strength and hope to choose life over death. Her journey includes healing from her self-inflicted wounds, treatment in a mental hospital, and working toward recovery.
7. Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
We can see what Pure O looks like playing out. On the outside, Samantha McAllister looks like your typical teen. But behind her popular girl persona, she has Pure O OCD which causes her to think dark thoughts and worries she can’t seem to turn off. She is constantly second-guessing her every move, thought, and word which makes her daily life that much harder. Although she struggles, it would be far worse if she left the popular friend group for protection.
But Sam ends up meeting Caroline, where she can be herself more. Caroline introduces Sam to the world of spoken word at the Poet’s Corner. It’s a place for groups of misfits that have been snubbed by their school. There, Sam can be her most authentic self. However, her disorder continues to prey on her insecurities.
8. Kissing Doorknobs by Terry Spencer Hesser
Kissing Doorknobs is a classic book about how you can overcome OCD. Tara Sullivan has lived in terror all her life, believing something bad would happen to her mother while they were apart when she was in preschool. As the years progressed, so did her worries. By the time she was 11, she heard of the simple tall tale saying, “Step on a crack, break your mother’s back.” From then on, Tara began counting every single crack on the sidewalk.
She began spiraling as she moved into her teen years: sorting her food into certain sections of plates, nonstop prayer rituals, and then she began kissing her fingers and touching doorknobs. Follow Tara’s journey as she navigates life with this all-consuming disorder. This book has claimed to bring much awareness and comfort to people who have OCD.
9. OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Hayda
Bea meets Beck and instantly is smitten with him. He’s sweet, strong, and kind of messed up, which creates an instant connection with Bea. However, no matter how much she likes Beck, Bea can’t stop thinking about someone else. A guy who is attractive and cosmic, but he doesn’t even know Bea. That doesn’t stop her though, as she spends most of her time watching him. She has journals filled with notes about him as well. She’s become obsessed.
Bea thinks she has it under control, but the problem is this isn’t a choice; it’s a compulsion. It’s hard to distinguish what you actually feel and what is categorized into your obsessive behavior. OCD can quickly transcend into compulsive thinking of someone. But understand that this is normal when you have OCD, but like Bea, you must absolve the problem.
Hopefully, these books service you well. OCD doesn’t have to control your life. Remember, you have it, but it doesn’t have you.
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