A British model and writer's account of how she learned to live with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
As a child, the author privately referred to herself as “we.” However, the girl that “shared” Bailey’s mind was no imaginary friend: she was the “other” who drove her to check on her sleeping sister several times a night, wash her hands to rawness, and mentally repeat elaborate “prayer[s].” She existed to ensure that Bailey carried out rituals as “protection against everything going wrong” and make up for all her real and imagined mistakes, from killing someone with a thought to spreading deadly disease. As Bailey grew up, her secret “other” became increasingly exacting and onerous: “she [was] a banshee…a spoiled child demanding the whole of me.” By the time the author was an adolescent, her “double” made her recite long strings of letters in her head, each of which stood for the first letter of an action (such as staring) or a thing (such as bad breath) for which she sought retribution. Bailey finally revealed her list-making habit to a school doctor, who referred her to a psychiatrist named Dr. Finch. Intensive therapy helped the author free herself from her “other,” whom she then “replaced” with her doctor. Determined to free herself from dependence on Dr. Finch, the author severed their connection and stopped taking medication after leaving England to attend college in Ireland. The result was a first term characterized by heavy drinking, shoplifting, and attempted suicide. Only after returning to London to face her demons and work through transference issues with her psychiatrist was Bailey finally able to find relief from her overactive mind and the underlying anxiety that had defined her life. In her courageous book, the author offers compelling insight into the pain and destructive power of OCD as well as the resilience of a young woman determined to beat the odds.
A harrowingly honest memoir of profound psychological struggle.