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So I’m finally reading OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu thanks to some eager online recommendations and a family member who wisely chose from my long Christmas book wishlist, and the more I read, the more I wish I’d had a book like this when I was a teenager.
I think I had my first mini panic attack when I was maybe eight or so, but it wasn’t until I was sixteen that anxiety became a constant thing. But as my anxiety manifested so often as (ridiculously unnecessary) guilt, I didn’t recognize it for what it was until four years later, at which point it was totally out of hand and became much harder, if not impossible, to hide.
Now between a no-sugar diet and OTC stuff, I’ve been able to handle the anxiety pretty well on my own, but I can’t help but wonder if I would’ve saved myself four years of internal torment if I’d had a book like OCD Love Story to help me recognize it for what it obviously is—a disorder.
When I was sixteen, all I knew about OCD was hand washing, counting, and obsessions with neatness. I didn’t know it was also terrifying, intrusive thoughts (or ones considered morally reprehensible, which of course lead to more guilt), or being terrified you’d accidentally poison dinner by not washing utensils enough, or feeling guilty/obsessively worrying over your friends’ actions, or driving twice around a parking lot to make sure you backed into the curb and not a person. I didn’t know OCD was not being able to lie, or having a mini panic attack wondering if what you just said was 100% true (because you didn’t arrive at 3:30, you arrived at 3:27).
I still hesitate to say I’m definitely OCD because I’ve never been officially diagnosed. But I wonder if reading a book with OCD or some other anxiety disorder representation would have made me realize four years earlier that what I was dealing with wasn’t just me, or just something I had to deal with. Maybe if I’d recognized myself in the pages of a book I would’ve talked to someone about it. Maybe I would’ve asked for help much sooner than I did.
Representation is important to me because the combination of stereotypes and the lack of true representation made me ignore my symptoms for years.
Representation is important to me because I can’t begin to explain how gratifying it is to find a protagonist in a book with anxiety issues, to see a character who thinks the same way I did (and sometimes still do), to see that there are others like me who understand exactly what I mean when I say, “I’ve dealt with a lot of anxiety.”
Representation is powerful. Knowing you’re not alone and your story deserves to be told is essential.
And that’s just one reason why representation is important to me.
What do you think?
Writer @Ava_Jae shares one reason why representation in media is important to her. What do you think? (Click to tweet)
"Representation is powerful. Knowing you're not alone & your story deserves to be told is essential." (Click to tweet)