Progress is Possible: An Update on Reading

1JulyBooksSometimes when I think back and compare my present situation to where I was in the past I doubt the progress I’ve made in getting better from OCD. I think this is something most people struggle with when working towards recovery of any mental health problem. Automatic negative thoughts love to taunt and trick us into believing things that aren’t true.

Whenever I start to doubt I’ve made progress I remind myself of exposures I have achieved and goals I have reached. My favorite example to think of revolves around reading.2AugustBooks

As of June this past summer I could barely read. I was reading about one or two novels a year and schoolwork was a nightmare. That summer I set a goal for myself that I had had enough of OCD pushing me around and stealing reading, which is something that I used to love immensely. I decided I was going to get reading back no matter how stressful it was.

To do this I started forcing myself to read. I picked out books that seemed interesting and suspenseful, to increase my motivation for reading, and I just kept making myself read. At first it was just on the subway ride home a few days a week. Then it was for half an hour a day. Then an hour a day, and so on.


Initially even picking up a book was an exposure. It was stressful, overwhelming, and I wanted to avoid it. But I didn’t let myself. I just kept making myself read and the most incredibly thing happened because of it. Gradually reading became less of an exposure and slowly became enjoyable again. I began to regain my love for reading. As the stress decreased and my enjoyment in the activity increased, the amount I was reading increased right along with it. It reached a point where some days I would read for several hours in the evening, or I would read over one hundred pages without stopping at all. After each of the first few books I finished, I cried happy tears.


As of June 2015 I could barely read. Since then I have read 20 books! Twenty!! My initial goal was to reach reading a book a month, and I have already surpassed that for the year.

I wanted to share my experience with reading with the wish that my story will give someone else hope in their fight. OCD can be overcome and we can regain what we once loved and had stolen from us by OCD. No goal is reached in a day, but big achievements are possible with steady progress. What step will you take today to regain something you loved?


P.S. I am always happy to discuss books with other book lovers! Here is a complete list and my ratings of the twenty books I’ve read since July.


  • OCD Love Story, by Corey Ann Haydu (5/5)
  • Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver (4/5)
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews (4/5)


  • Favorite Sherlock Holmes Stories, by Arthur Conan Doyle (4/5)
  • Afterworlds, by Scott Westerfeld (5/5)
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs (5/5)
  • Unwind, by Neal Shusterman (5/5)
  • Hollow City, by Ransom Riggs (5/5)
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon (5/5)
  • My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult (4/5)
  • The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch (4/5)


  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, by Lewis Carroll (5/5)
  • Nineteen Minutes, by Jodi Picoult (3/5)


  • Library of Souls, by Ransom Riggs (5/5)
  • The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories, by Marina Keegan (5/5)
  • Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen (5/5)
  • The Martian, by Andy Weir (3/5)

November (so far…):

  • The Book of Lost Things, by John Connolly (4/5)
  • The Thing About Jellyfish, by Ali Benjamin (5/5)
  • Panic, by Lauren Oliver (3/5)


  1. This makes me want to cry happy tears! I also gained back reading from OCD this year. I used to love it as well, but when I developed OCD the intrusive thoughts and rereading compulsions got in the way. Now that I’m doing better with both, I picked up a YA novel and didn’t stop for months! I was reading a book a week for a while, but I’ve been taking a break because I’m not sure what to read next! This makes me want to get back into it. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks! Congrats to you too!
        I’ve heard of that book! It sounds kind of frightening to be honest, but something I would totally read! I’m thinking about starting The Unlikely Hero of Room 13b by Teresa Toten. That may be next!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey! Love your book list; I’m curious about OCD Love Story…do you think it would be suitable for a 14 year old girl? My partner’s daughter has OCD (as do I) but it’s something she struggles to talk about and deal with at the moment and slowly, she is starting to be a bit more open about it. I want to show her that it’s not something to be ashamed of or feel guilty about so I’m trying to find positive stories about it for her.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a great idea to use books for that! That’s awesome.
      OCD Love Story is for the most part appropriate but it does include details of Beck and Bea’s romantic relationship so it depends on what you are comfortable with her reading. There’s a lot more to the book than that but it is in there. Other than that I think it could be a great book to “normalize” OCD. I could really relate to Bea and the other characters in her support group. Let me know if you read it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve ordered it online! 🙂 I like the idea that, through the group therapy, it shows a number of different ways that OCD thoughts can present themselves. Hopefully she will relate to at least one of the characters. I will probably read it before I give it to her but I think it should be fine, even if it does include details of their relationship – it might also give us some good discussion prompts! I’m just trying to find ways to show her that she’s not a bad person for having these thoughts or doing her “routines”. I’ve talked to her a little bit more about my OCD stuff (which is mostly managed these days) but I think it will be really good for her to know that other kids/teens have it too.

        Also, huge props to you for claiming back reading! 🙂 I meant to say it before but got caught up trying to ask about the book! All progress is positive. Well done!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I hope you both like it and she can relate to the characters!
          And thanks about the reading! It’s definitely more motivating to focus on what we have achieved.
          Also, if she would ever like to talk to another person with OCD so she feels even less alone she is more than welcome to email me ( Of course only if she is comfortable and wants to but the offer is always open!
          Happy thanksgiving


  3. Hi, it’s good to know that you have managed to heal your reading OCD
    I have one too, but sadly I’m still struggling/fighting with it, up until now
    I do the ERP theraphy, trying to expose myself and trying to avoid the urge to reread, sometimes I manage not to reread but most of the times I failed,
    because sometimes when I read, there is a sentence that is harder to understand compare to other sentences, and I don’t understand it only in a single read so I reread it again and it makes this reread cycle
    – Can you share your methods/tips on how you can finally beat your reading OCD?
    – Do you read out load with your mouth too when your read or you just read it in your brain (silent reading)? (Cause I remember reading somewhere in the web, that read out loud can help people with reading OCD)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Yohan! Something I found helpful when I was first doing reading exposures was using a piece of paper to cover the page after I read it. That way even when the urge to reread was really strong, it prevented me from rereading. Otherwise it was too easy to quickly look up and reread.
      Something else that might be helpful is starting with something easy and low pressure to read, and working your way up. For example, I started with fiction books just for fun, then read science texts not for school, and then did science texts for school. That way you can embrace the uncertainty and discomfort of maybe not having understood everything in a lower pressure situation first. That helped me work my way up to being okay with maybe not understanding everything in a reading assignment for school. Moreover, sometimes I would allow a second read for school texts if I genuinely didn’t understand, but I had to be strict with myself to not allow more than that.
      I usually don’t read aloud, but that could be something to try if you think it could work for you.
      I hope that helped!


      • Hi Morgan, thank you for sharing.
        I actually never use a piece of paper to cover the page after I read it, and I always read books that has a really importance to me (I read programming books because currently I’m a college student and I’m studying computer programming)
        I’ll make sure to try your method with paper and reading stuff that is easier to understand.
        And one important part that I understand from your reply is: to heal your reading OCD, you must learn how to accept the fact that it is okay if you can’t understand everything when you read.
        God Bless.


  4. This brought me happy tears to know that I am not alone in my struggle with this, but moreover, that is it possible to overcome. The idea of reading 20 books a year is/was not even fathomable to me. Thank you so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hey! Im so happy for you. I have a similar type of obsession, i fear i cant watch movies or tv series with subtitles, because i feel that the time i spend reading the subtitles make me lose information from whats happening on the center of the screen. Can you give me some tips to overcome it? xo

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s