OCD Love Story, by Corey Ann Haydu, is a book about two teenagers with OCD. The story follows how they meet, some of their therapy, how their symptoms both worsen and improve, and of course their relationship. This summer I went on a mission to reclaim reading from OCD (Progress is Possible: An Update on Reading) and this was the first book I chose to read. In order to stay motivated to keep reading, despite it being a stressful exposure, I needed a good book. Luckily I chose well. OCD Love Story was good enough that I wanted to keep reading more than I wanted to avoid the anxiety, and I ended up reading it pretty quickly. This book will always have a special place in my heart as the first book I read when reclaiming reading from OCD.
As far as I know the author does not have OCD (though does have anxiety), but she certainly did her research. I was amazed at the accuracy of the characters’ symptoms and also how much I could relate to what Bea was saying. This book does a wonderful job expressing what it is like to have an anxiety disorder. Some of my favorite lines are:
“Compulsions are just a way of delaying the inevitable rush of feeling and fear” (52).
“Then I’m flooded with tears because sometimes once I’ve relaxed a little bit I can’t keep anything at all in” (119).
“Carrying all of these thoughts is downright heavy” (238).
“The three-hundred-pound Anxiety Man is sitting on my chest again, compressing my lungs and making it hard to breathe” (241).
“It’s not pretty, when all my different fears start to collide and snowball into one massive monster of anxiety” (274).
“There is a little bit of hope in all of this. A tiny pocket of possibility that there could be a day when I could do things the way other people do them” (276).
Note on reading the book: OCD Love Story may be available at some bookstores or libraries. I had to order it at Barnes and Noble.
- Portrayed many different types of obsessions and compulsions (for example: obsessive note-taking, hit-and-run fears, contamination fears, superstitions about numbers), as well as panic attacks
- Included ERP (exposure and response prevention) therapy
- Showed how hard and exhausting exposures are
- but also showed how effective they are at treating OCD!
- One of my favorite moments was when Bea did an exposure of burning some of her lists and notes because I have totally done this exposure!
- Included characters with trichotillomania and dermatillomania
- Showed that mental health problems like OCD can cause stress in relationships (with friends or significant others)
What I disliked:
- One of Bea’s main compulsions was stalking a couple because she feels responsible for their safety. I hope people who don’t know much about OCD don’t finish the book thinking everyone with OCD has a stalking compulsion.
- Spoiler alert: The book ended on a very positive note with Bea mostly better.
- Made recovery seem like a fairly fast process
- Didn’t address the possibility of relapse, which is common. Recovery is not one straight path up.
Ratings: 9/10 (overall average)
Educational Value: 5/5
Here is a great interview about the book: Interview with Corey Ann Haydu about OCD Love Story
“It’s like, I’m scared and there’re a lot of ugly things, but I’d rather be shipwrecked on this lovely island than safe in a sad, gray cell” (Haydu 334).
Previous OCD in Media reviews:
You made me really want to read this book.
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Yay I’m glad you did a post on this book! I love this novel. It was the second book I read when I started taking reading back from OCD, although it wasn’t an exposure because the anxiety around reading was long gone for me, I just hadn’t started reading yet! But OCD: Love Story is such a compelling book. I won’t spoil anything but I love how it shows exposure therapy improving their lives & relationship. I’ll never forget this book!
By the way, I just got a new fiction book after you encouraged me to! 🙂
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I always love to hear of other reading victories over OCD!
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Bleed Like Me by C. Desir! It’s about a girl who self harms who gets into a very obsessive relationship. I haven’t started it yet because I’m trying to finish a book for school first (knowing me I’ll get too into Bleed Like Me and not make time for the school book haha), but I can’t wait! 😀
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