By Natalie Young
Key Themes: obsessive compulsive disorder, OCD, motherhood, autobiography, factual guide
This short book is in two parts, the first is an autobiographical account of the authior's experience of OCD, her hospitalization and treatment, amongst other things. The second part is a more discursive treatment of the subject. Both parts, with their different approaches, will be an invaluable, from the horses's mouth, guide to anyone with an interest in OCD.
About the Author
Natalie Young is a strong woman, with much experience and guidance to offer. She is also a mother.
November 21, 1980: I went into the hospital. I was I believe extremely ill, the epitome of compulsive obsessional neurosis. I was unsure of everything and everyone and very unsure of myself. I remember I had a plan of suicide I intended to carry out that evening and I really did intend to, as I felt so ill, so physically weak. I just wanted to go to sleep forever.
November 24: I was transferred to the West ward – mainly concerned with obsessional, compulsive and phobic cases. After a few days, I was given a programme. I remember how horrified I felt when I was told I had complete ban on hand washing. This, of course, was the total opposite to what had been instilled in me as a child and indeed as I grew up. I was, previous to going into hospital, a complete mental cripple. I used to wash my hands between 50 and 200 times a day, other parts of me 19 or so times, but never really feeling clean. I began to imagine I could make everything in the room I was in dirty, particularly food and drinks, so I began not to eat or drink. I think I had begun to dehydrate when I was admitted to hospital.
I have been obsessional for 15 years and the fears have varied widely over that time. It all began after, or rather just before the birth of my last child. I remember being at work at the BBC and feeling I was going to, in some way, hurt my sister, whom I love dearly. In order to ensure in my mind, my sister’s safety, I had to tear up the work I was doing and start again without thinking damaging thoughts. I have, throughout this illness, known intellectually that this was illogical, but logic and common sense play no part in easing one’s tormented mind. After the birth of my youngest child, I had extremely powerful thoughts that I was going in some way to harm my son. It was about this time that I had pressure put on me to have my youngest son adopted – there was never anything like that in my mind. My baby was going to stay with us, his family. I never considered adoption; he was much too precious to me. In spite of that, I could have well done without the pressure I found myself under. I would make his bottle ready and just as I was going to feed him this thought came into my stressful mind, “he will be dead when he has taken his bottle”. This so frightened me as the last thing I wanted was for my darling son to become ill in any way. When I changed his nappies, the same thought – so powerful – returned, “he will be dead when you take this off”. So then my rituals began to fill my unhappy day. If I was lucky maybe after the fifth, or so attempt at either feeding or changing my baby, it would be alright. Nearly all my money was spent on babies’ milk as I threw so much away.
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