Lily Bailey on living with OCD: 'My brain was filled with weird, uncomfortable thoughts'

Your extremely compelling book, Because We Are Bad, details your life with obsessive compulsive disorder. You are 23 now and your book gives the impression it has always been with you. But was there any starting point as such, and if so, what was it? I don’t remember ever not living with OCD. From as early as I can remember, there were two of me in my head, and my brain was filled with weird, uncomfortable thoughts. I heard my OCD as a voice – “she” or “my friend”. There was never an “I” in my head. It was always, “We should do this,” or, “We think that … ” It’s unusual to experience OCD like this, but not completely unheard of. OCD differs from person to person – how did yours manifest? For the purposes of making this easier to understand, I normally talk about things “I” did when I was younger, as talking out loud as “we” can be disorientating. My earliest memories of OCD centre around having an innate feeling that something bad was going to happen and that I was a bad person. In reception my teacher sent us all home with a letter, and we (“my friend” and me, henceforth throughout these questions called “I”) “just knew” that it was going to say something bad about us and that it needed to be hidden from my parents so as not to be in trouble. Other early memories include thinking my sister might die in her sleep, and repetitively crawling up and down the stairs to check on her, before praying for hours. As I got a bit older I started to have frequent obsessions that I might have done something bad and that I needed to compulsively make lists of what those things might be. I had bizarre thoughts that I could cause someone to haemorrhage just by brushing against them, or kill someone just by thinking it. Some of this may not sound like OCD to your average reader, but it’s important to remember that to have OCD merely requires that you have obsessions (unwanted thoughts and images) and compulsions (the action, whether physical or mental, that you take in response), and that they cause you significant distress.   Excerpt from The Guardian, read the full article here.

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