T.O.T.Week: ocd

Recently, I sat in on a Zoom with a nonfiction children’s book author. Okay fine… because you asked, I’ll name drop. It was Jason Chin and he was INCREDIBLE. Jason did a remarkable job of talking to young readers about the process that leads a book to its print, a large chunk of which involves thorough research. He introduced an ‘explore three’ rule: before any facts make it into his books, he has to have seen that fact in at least three verified sources. Jeez, could you imagine if everyone took the time to, I don’t know, make sure our information was true?! Twitter would be pissed, and it’d be goodbye click bait.

Anyway, I did my best to apply Jason’s ‘explore three’ rule to a topic that has interested me for some time now: obsessive compulsive disorder, otherwise known as OCD. I will be the first to admit that I have allowed my understanding of this condition to be watered down as an “obsession with cleaning,” an “irrational fear of germs,” and an “underlying need for organization and control.” I have made light concerning the rationale of my own ‘OCD tendencies’ as to why I am constantly adjusting items in my classroom, aligning and realigning my bookshelves so that the corners match, and… well, don’t even get me started on my need for control. Yet it was my intent this week to dig a bit deeper and learn a bit more about the wide spectrum of OCD and its often debilitating mental health effects. I am by NO MEANS an expert, but here are some tidbits that were new to me:

  • OCD is not the same thing as anxiety. It is defined by obsessive thoughts that drive repetitive compulsions, which interfere with a person’s everyday routine and lifestyle.
  • It is unclear how exactly what causes OCD, though researchers tend to look to brain structure, genetic patterns, and most recently, effects of trauma and neglect in the most serious cases.
  • There is often an unspoken burden or guilt carried in the compulsive behaviors that if those with OCD are not doing ‘enough,’ it can impact not only themselves, but their loved ones as well.

The protagonists in the following stories allow us to briefly step into their shoes, though I would venture so far as to say that they are not asking for your pity. They’re providing insight into their everyday lives, both its beauty and its struggles. They’re asking for your understanding, your interest, your empathy, and your good intent to learn a bit more than what a headline, an assumption, or Web MD may lead you to believe. So, go learn and explore three…

The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson (middle grade novel)

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green (YA book)

Elinor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (adult novel)

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