Sometimes when I think back and compare my present situation to where I was in the past I doubt the progress I’ve made in getting better from OCD. I think this is something most people struggle with when working towards recovery of any mental health problem. Automatic negative thoughts love to taunt and trick us into believing things that aren’t true.
As of June this past summer I could barely read. I was reading about one or two novels a year and schoolwork was a nightmare. That summer I set a goal for myself that I had had enough of OCD pushing me around and stealing reading, which is something that I used to love immensely. I decided I was going to get reading back no matter how stressful it was.
To do this I started forcing myself to read. I picked out books that seemed interesting and suspenseful, to increase my motivation for reading, and I just kept making myself read. At first it was just on the subway ride home a few days a week. Then it was for half an hour a day. Then an hour a day, and so on.
Initially even picking up a book was an exposure. It was stressful, overwhelming, and I wanted to avoid it. But I didn’t let myself. I just kept making myself read and the most incredibly thing happened because of it. Gradually reading became less of an exposure and slowly became enjoyable again. I began to regain my love for reading. As the stress decreased and my enjoyment in the activity increased, the amount I was reading increased right along with it. It reached a point where some days I would read for several hours in the evening, or I would read over one hundred pages without stopping at all. After each of the first few books I finished, I cried happy tears.
As of June 2015 I could barely read. Since then I have read 20 books! Twenty!! My initial goal was to reach reading a book a month, and I have already surpassed that for the year.
I wanted to share my experience with reading with the wish that my story will give someone else hope in their fight. OCD can be overcome and we can regain what we once loved and had stolen from us by OCD. No goal is reached in a day, but big achievements are possible with steady progress. What step will you take today to regain something you loved?
P.S. I am always happy to discuss books with other book lovers! Here is a complete list and my ratings of the twenty books I’ve read since July.
- OCD Love Story, by Corey Ann Haydu (5/5)
- Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver (4/5)
- Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews (4/5)
- Favorite Sherlock Holmes Stories, by Arthur Conan Doyle (4/5)
- Afterworlds, by Scott Westerfeld (5/5)
- Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs (5/5)
- Unwind, by Neal Shusterman (5/5)
- Hollow City, by Ransom Riggs (5/5)
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon (5/5)
- My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult (4/5)
- The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch (4/5)
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, by Lewis Carroll (5/5)
- Nineteen Minutes, by Jodi Picoult (3/5)
- Library of Souls, by Ransom Riggs (5/5)
- The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories, by Marina Keegan (5/5)
- Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen (5/5)
- The Martian, by Andy Weir (3/5)
November (so far…):
- The Book of Lost Things, by John Connolly (4/5)
- The Thing About Jellyfish, by Ali Benjamin (5/5)
- Panic, by Lauren Oliver (3/5)