OCD & Depression Book Recs

A blog reader asked:

Hi Jackie. I’m recovering from OCD and depression right now and i am looking for a few book recommendation(fiction and non-fiction) about themes related to these mental illnesses? Something inspirational and perhaps even educational?

Well, I’m so glad you asked!

book recs_1.png

Kissing Doorknobs by Terri Spencer Hesser
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers (hey, she sounds familiar …)

Overcoming OCD by Janet Singer
Stop Obsessing by Edna Foa
Being Me with OCD by Alison Dotson
The Imp of the Mind by Lee Baer

More resources:
My friend Shannon does a really cool feature on her blog called #ShatteringStigmas, which you definitely need to check out. I even wrote one. 😉
All the #ShatteringStigma posts
My #ShatteringStigma post





State of the Blogger: idk.

Back at the end of 2016, I posted my creative goals for 2017:

  1. Finish Salt Novel.
  2. Find the soul of Yes Novel.

So. Yeah. Life.

Salt Novel is getting closer, but it won’t be done before the end of the year. The exciting news is that my agent, my editor, and I all want another pair of eyes on the manuscript, so I’m getting to work with an editor I really admire who has worked on NYT Bestsellers in the YA world. I’ll get notes from her in mid-January, which means a 2.5 month break from my novel! It’s quite needed. I’ve been working on this since I finished Truest back in 2013– well, along with a time where I wrote out a draft of Yes Novel. Speaking of …

Yes Novel. For those of you who didn’t know what it was about, it’s about a boy named Asa with OCD. If you’re active in the YA community, you’ll know that John Green’s latest novel just came out last month. About a girl named Aza with OCD.


Yup. So Yes Novel is headed to the backburner for now.

But all this means that I have 2.5 months to brainstorm new ideas. Or, as my therapist put it, to “be playful.” I am truly, deeply excited to just explore ideas and characters and names without any stressful deadlines I have to meet. I have a handful of ideas (Fox Novel, Ivy Novel, Glass Novel, Gold Novel, Egg Novel) and a handful of characters that have been … percolating. It’ll be fun to mix and match and dream.



HOCD: 4 Steps to Freedom

Every month, the majority of questions I am asked are related to HOCD, and many of the questions come from teens. Below, I want to show you the list of HOCD-related questions I received this month; I am hopeful that these question-askers can read through this list and understand that there are so, so many others going through the same experience right now.

Because I have said just about everything I think I can say about HOCD– and had several guest bloggers add their thoughts about HOCD– I am going to answer all of these questions in one response at the very end. I hope it will help.

I wanted to know if you can get aroused by the same sex and not be gay. I do this but the thought of being with the same sex repulses me. also I recently got a crush on someone of the opposite crush and I had a good feeling.   I get anxiety when thinking of being with the same sex for society reasons and just the fact of being gay. Sometime I feel gay, frustrated and not right.
I feel so scared. I don’t know for sure if I have HOCD or not, and I’ve been doing so much research on the topic that I’ve become bored of reading everything. But now I’m scared that this means I’d rather be gay, and that if I looked for treatment I’d just turn out to be gay. I don’t want to be, I’m even starting to doubt that, too and it’s scaring me so much. I don’t know what to do, anymore.
I’m a 14 yr old female and I was recently reading fanfiction smut aka sexual description and it was boy x girl, I was comfortable with it and then got a compulsion to look up girl x girl to see how I reacted, I read it and felt a little aroused but mainly disgusted, I think the arousal was left over from the earlier stuff but I can’t get it out of my head! I’ve had HOCD for a while now, help?
Just an update on my earlier post (I was the 14 year old smut one) I attempted to read another girl x girl story without reading boy x girl before and I had no reaction just a bit of grossed out-ness (I don’t mean to offend anyone). I wanted to also say that I have had anxiety age 7 and talked to a therapist about HOCD, so this isn’t new, and I have never had doubts that I wasn’t hetero before
Hi Jackie. I’m a female with hocd, and I’ve had it for nearly 1.5 years. I know it’s common to be uncomfortable and scared around your friends, but I just can’t stop being so anxious and terrified around my best friend. We talk normal and everything but as soon as I’m alone I start seeing her face in my head or the way she dresses and I dread seeing her. I don’t want to like her is this my OCD?
Hello! I believe I’m suffering HOCD (I’m 14-16), and I’ve definitely had it more than once (I was unaware though). I feel absolutely numb, devastingly though, I can tell my anxiety is lurking in the background. Although I don’t feel it quite yet. I still notice I’m very subtlety panicking and checking, but without the intensity of before. Is this normal? (Well obviously not, but you get my point).
Im a 14 year old girl who has been diagnosed with HOCD, and every time I think it’s gone I see something that brings it back. For instance today I saw an article about someone who thought they was straight and fell in love with a girl and here it comes again. Any suggestions as to how I can stop this cycle?
I have been struggling with unwanted, intrusive thoughts for almost a month now. It just started out of nowhere when this weird sounding voice in my head said, “I’m gay.” It didn’t feel like me at all, but I have suddenly lost all interest in boys (I’m a girl). I had a massive panic attack about this, and my medicine was changed. I am talking to a boy right now, but the thoughts keep coming back!
Sometimes I admire other girls and really wish I was them, but I don’t want to be with them, I just want to be them . . . I have HOCD and it scares me that it might be a crush and I just don’t know it? Sometimes I just get intense feelings of admiration and having HOCD makes me terrified! Any suggestions?
I am 15 years old and really confused. Before this I never worried about it and didn’t question it at all, because I would never be gay. Now these unwanted gay thoughts and urges are driving me crazy. I don’t know if I have HOCD because I was never diagnosed with OCD but I have always been an anxious person. Can puberty make me gay or is this just HOCD? I want my old life back so bad.
Hello! I am an 18 year old girl and believe I am suffering from HOCD. For my whole life, I have had crushes on guys NEVER on a girl (I did watch lesbian porn in the past and it’s really bothering me that I did). I wake up worried that my past was a lie and that i am a lesbian and just repressed it. I just moved in to college and these thoughts of “you’re probably a lesbian” will not leave me alone
I have been struggling with HOCD for over a month now. I hate the intrusive thoughts that I have. I went on a date with a guy I like a few days ago, and I had an amazing time! But now the thoughts are flooding back again, and they feel way more real this time. Please help!
Hi there, I believe I have suffered with hocd for 8 months now and I still doubt whether I am gay or not, growing up I used to be very shy and didn’t really do anything with girls, recently I have been looking at my past to see if there are any gay expierences. Can it take 8 months to realise your gay or is it all just hocd
I’m 15 and my hocd is pretty bad. When I was young I was a part of some “experimental” play and this is the origin of all these thoughts. Anyways I at this point feel way less anxiety but these thoughts are still always here. Whenever I look at a girl and she is pretty I know that I want that but I get worried because I don’t have the same reaction I used to. Is that normal

Hi my dear ones, my dear, dear ones.

I am so sorry for the torment you’re going through. I really am. Can you see above how you are not alone? I’m sure you feel alone because OCD is not something most of us like to talk about, not even with the people we’re closest to.

So, here is my best advice:

1. Please read the following posts:

A Closer Look at HOCD
Interview with a Former HOCD Sufferer
A Big Ol’ HOCD Post
Another Interview with a Former HOCD Sufferer
A Third Interview with a Former HOCD Sufferer
A Fourth Interview with a Former HOCD Sufferer
Q&A with Former HOCD Sufferer
HOCD Story: Meet Mae, Part One
HOCD Story: Meet Mae, Part Two

Also, please check out the question and dancer tag since most of those questions are about HOCD.

2. Read about treatment:

Gaining Certainty through Embracing Uncertainty
Resisting treatment?

What life was like before & after CBT
Obsessing vs. Brainstorming: before & after
A Detailed Post about ERP
ERP is the RIGHT Answer
Better than a Band-Aid
Embracing Uncertainty
What CBT was like for me
Will treatment change me?
Why You Need CBT/ERP
Have Reservations about ERP?
Preparing for CBT/ERP
ERP & Imaginal Exposures
Uncertainty is the Key
The Problem with Seeking Reassurance

3. Decide on your next step. Here are your options:

A) Do nothing. This is not recommended. OCD usually continues to switch to harder and harder obsessions and compulsions the longer it is untreated.

B) Continue to educate yourself. This is always recommended because one of the ways we fight OCD is with education and knowledge. You might find that you are only at this step and can do no more at this time. That’s okay. Keep learning about OCD and ERP so that you are ready for the next step when it comes.

C) Pursue ERP on your own. If you choose to do this on your own, you will still want a book or app to guide you. Here are my suggestions:

Self-Directed ERP with a Book
Self-Directed ERP with an App

D) Pursue ERP with the help of a parent/loved one and a therapist. It is always up to you which people you feel safe telling about your OCD and how much detail you want to share. It is fine to say, “I have been doing research on my own and I believe I have OCD. I’d like to see a specialist for a diagnosis.” If you want your parent or friend to know more about what you are dealing with, feel free to send them to the top link. The second link will give you ideas on how to find and interview an ERP therapist.

HOCD: A Letter to Loved Ones
Finding and Interviewing an ERP Therapist

E) Consider meeting with a psychiatrist to add medication to your treatment plan. Don’t neglect ERP therapy in lieu of medication. Medication is best when combined with ERP therapy.

Medication vs. Exposure Therapy

4. Take that next step toward freedom. 

a step


Just Science

A blog reader asked me if I ever question the need for meds.

I responded:

Oh, I never question whether I need my meds– I know I do, haha! If I miss even one or two days, I can tell.

So I don’t rock the boat. My friend has diabetes and needs insulin, and I would never suggest, “Are you sure you need that? Maybe try to get off that insulin, hmm?”

I have OCD. My brain reabsorbs serotonin too quickly. So I take an SSRI to slow that down.

Not a happy pill. Just science. 🙂

10 Things I’ve Learned about Online Dating

I barely know where to start. 

This is not going to be tidy. Then again, neither is online dating.

I’ve been attempting to find love online since January– I’ve heard from over 2000 men, talked to a couple hundred online, talked to a handful on the phone, and met with a small number of those who survived the gauntlet.

In honor (lament?) of the ten months I’ve survived online dating, here are 10 things I’ve learned. Warning: there are a handful of screenshots to back up my points. I’ve chosen pretty tame ones, but they still might offend you if you’re very sensitive to this sort of thing.

  1. A great profile without a great photo won’t even be looked at.
  2. Almost no one reads your profile anyway. Your profile might say that your dealbreakers are X, Y, and Z, and Mr. XYZ will still say, “Wassup?”
  3. If you then mention you don’t want XYZ, he will suddenly say, “Wow, I didn’t even realize that was on there! Yeah, I hate XYZ too.” Right.
  4. Hook-up culture is not only on Tinder. I have found this attitude on every dating site with one exception (eHarmony)– yes, even Christian dating sites.
  5. Everything is about sex.  
  6. Online dating can make you feel like a queen or like garbage. Sometimes in the same day. Sometimes by the same person.
  7. Ghosting is a real thing– when someone you’ve talked to consistently suddenly vanishes without saying goodbye– and it is more heartbreaking that I could have guessed. This happened to me twice and still messes with my mind. I don’t want to be dramatic, but ghosting leaves scars.
  8. 85-90% of the men online act like dogs and you’re a T-bone steak. When a man is respectful, it’s almost shocking. 
  9. Chemistry is so much more rare than I’d expected. I am someone who naturally connects well with people in person, and I’m a good communicator, so this surprised me.
  10. I am a strong woman, and I can clap back at men who treat me wrong, and I still have to return to my girlfriends over and over to make sure I’m not letting my standards slide. When the majority of men treat women awful, it can make a guy look like a prince just for not harassing ya. Ridiculous.

    So. Now what? I don’t know. 

    I really don’t.

    The end. Maybe. 

    Online Dating: the [Suprisingly Serious] Preface

    I never imagined I’d be single at 35.
    I was gonna go to college, meet the man of my dreams during freshman orientation. We’d wait till college graduation to get married, or hey, maybe we wouldn’t. When you know, you know, we’d tell all our friends and professors who thought we were too young.


    Or maybe, I’d watch all my college roommates find love, then all my post-college roommates … my summer camp kids … the college students I recruited when they were seventeen … the kids I used to babysit for.

    And it’s been fine– or rather, most of the time it’s been fine. Honestly, the kind of boy I’d have wanted in college is almost the polar opposite of the man I’d want today. Mostly because I am nearly the polar opposite of myself in my early twenties: sheltered, extroverted, enslaved to a brain disorder, ungracious with myself and, unfortunately, with others too. Today, I live in freedom from OCD and legalism. I’m an introvert who feels called to pour out affection and not judgment.

    I’m a liberal, feminist, evangelical Christian. Which sounds like an oxymoron to most people but makes total sense to me.

    It has made online dating difficult, I’ll admit.

    I’m “too this” for one crowd, “too that” for the other. I have a handful of “must haves” but they are very hard to find.

    Next week (or whenever I can get to it), join me for a not-so-serious look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of online dating.

    What I’m Into

    * asking for help and not apologizing for needing it

    isochronic tones (for headache relief, anxiety relief, help falling asleep)

    * Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

    * the new Rupi Kaur collection

    * supportive coworkers/workplace

    * girlfriends full of grace

    * keeping in touch with faraway friends  (Cindy, Megs, Whit, Sam … looking at you guys!)

    * Portlandia (I’m late to the party, I know)

    * kitten videos on Instagram (I literally follow more foster kitten profiles than actual people I know) (I am waiting for a mama cat to give birth and check it every half hour … oh, who am I kidding? Every five minutes.)

    * my house … I really do love it here

    * looking forward to 2018

    YOUR TURN!!! It will make me happy if you chime in with what you’re into lately. 🙂



    Can. Not. Wait.

    Melina Marchetta

    Apart from the release of the Tell the Truth, Shame the devil paperback in the US this month (press release below) I’ve been working on my new novel, The House That Seb Built (working title).  Some of you read my short story When Rosie met Jim which was published online by the Review of Australian fiction, and know that it will serve as the first chapter. I’m hoping to have the novel finished before the end of the year.

    I’ve said a thousand times over that the novel isn’t about the Saving Francesca/Piper’s Son gang and that readers will be disappointed if they expect to see more than a glimpse of them. It’s mostly about Rosie and Martha and Jimmy and a whole cast of new characters.  But his friends are present in Jimmy’s life, so I thought I’d share with you his opening chapter.

    He’s home, and he knows…

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