A Tennessee woman confronts her obsessive compulsive disorder in this debut memoir.
Nicely was 4 years old when she had her accident. She was standing on the sidewalk outside a church when she and her mother were struck by an automobile. An article in the Kingsport Courier, the local newspaper, reported that her mother was in fair condition. But Nicely, whose condition was described as poor, suffered two broken legs and a damaged pelvis. Part of her treatment involved being placed in a body cast up to her armpits. The doctors predicted that she would walk again, although one leg might be shorter than the other. Yet the trauma of the accident—being separated from her mother for two months, sawn out of the cast, and seeing other sick children—would take its toll. She came to the debilitating conclusion that the world was a dangerous place. Dreams about her parents being beheaded became common. In time, she began secretly praying to keep her loved ones safe, with the fear that if she made a mistake, something terrible would happen. Her OCD became amplified as she grew older, as did her nightmares. She writes about waking up “slamming my fist against the headboard.” She also obsessed about her cat, Fred, becoming trapped in the refrigerator, and her mind punished her by encouraging her to imagine his death. This is the brave story of a woman turning to face her OCD, accept it, but question the validity of its voice. OCD sufferers should immediately identify with Nicely’s fraught inner monologue: “We stepped on the price tags! That was irresponsible! Someone is going to slip and fall and crack their head open and die because of us!” Yet the instant she recognized her OCD as a “drama queen” and contradicted it is deeply empowering: “Someone may slip and fall and die, and it may or may not be all our fault. But I want to be anxious and uncertain because I want to beat you, OCD.” In her detailed book, the author acknowledges that her OCD will never leave her. But the harrowing, ultimately hope-giving story of her “work in progress” may be of significant encouragement to those living with OCD and other anxiety disorders.
Written with courage and precision—the anatomy of a potentially incapacitating mental illness laid bare.