My friend Janet over at the ocdtalk blog recently wrote a book detailing her family’s experience with her son’s OCD and the treatment of it. I was lucky enough to get a copy of it, and I’m happy to share a review of it here with you.
I was really fascinated to finally hear Dan’s entire story when I’d gotten bits and pieces of it over the years via Janet’s blog posts. I don’t know why I’d expected it to be similar to mine– except that I relate to much of what Janet writes on her blog– but his experience was vastly different from my own! I think that a huge part of that was because Dan was being treated at a younger age than I was. The first scene of this book takes place when Dan is just 19 years old and a freshman in college, whereas I wasn’t even diagnosed with OCD until over a year after I’d finished undergrad. Though my parents are incredibly supportive and tremendous cheerleaders, taking the lead in finding help was absolutely my job. For the Singers, Dan’s parents Janet and Gary were very, very involved in every step of the process.
What I loved about this book:
It realistically portrays the hell of OCD. Nothing is watered down in this book. Families are going to be able to recognize immediately that this family truly understands the torture of OCD.
It shows that the journey to recovery can be long and complicated. I am so happy for the families that discover the right treatment immediately, but for many of us, that’s simply not the case. In my own story, it took me fifteen years just to get diagnosed, then another five years of talk therapy (inappropriate for OCD treatment) and trial-and-error prescriptions before I finally started ERP, the correct treatment.
Janet’s heartbreaking narrative is balanced with Dr. Seth Gillihan’s forthright explanations. I like that readers are given both one family’s personal experience, but that the book still dials back and addresses things more clinically and more generally. While Dan’s medications made him less himself, mine make me more myself, so I thought that Dr. Gillihan’s interjections helped keep the book balanced.
The doubt is palpable– and relatable. As Janet and Gary and Dan struggled to make the best decisions for Dan and their family, they often doubted those choices– and that’s exactly what real life is like. Many times, in my own journey, I questioned whether I should continue with a certain medication, or with meeting a particular psychiatrist, or even with therapy. It’s a scary enterprise, and this book shows that so well.
The emphasis is on hope and on the means by which it comes: exposure and response prevention therapy. People familiar with Janet Singer would expect nothing less.
I hope you’ll read this important book. It’s available at the following links: