BOOK: I Hardly Ever Wash My Hands: The Other Side of OCD
AUTHOR: J.J. Keeler
Imagine living your life constantly convinced that you have caused lethal harm to those around you. Every bump in the road is a child you’ve just run over. Every little girl with a hula hoop is a doomed victim of your unconscious rage. Imagine not being able to drive down a highway out of fear that your thoughts are literally killing people as they drive by. And now imagine that the only way to rid yourself of these obsessions is to constantly be turning around to check that the people around you are alive and well over and over again before you can actually go about living your own life. Welcome to the side of obsessive compulsive disorder that goes largely un-talked about. Welcome to the J.J. Keeler’s life.
Keeler has written a memoir of her experiences with OCD out of frustration at the lack of literature available to sufferers like herself; individuals who do not display the trademark OCD qualities like compulsive hand washing, overly tidy rooms and germaphobia. Keeler brings to light the other side of this often dehabilitating illness – the harming obsessions version.
Keeler’s life is one of rituals and compulsively checking on strangers she believes she has killed. She suffers from what is labeled as harming obsessions. Seemingly out of nowhere – without provocation – she will become obsessively convinced of things like there’s a bomb in her teddy bear or running over pedestrians with her car. She will be left with no other choice but to retrace her steps and stare at her alleged victims until she can convince herself they are still alive – sometimes Keeler ends up repeating this checking obsession four or five times before she can go to work or leave the house. Her life is literally run by these fears.
Despite the grave nature of the subject matter, Keeler is able to tell her story with a degree of humor, sensibility and tact. She invites the reader into her world with open arms. Her writing style is elementary and the prose leave a bit to the imagination. One may find themselves feeling as though they are reading the cliff notes version instead of a literary work. Regardless, Keeler’s memoir is an interesting and quick read. Surely other sufferers will appreciate her efforts.