Review of Overcoming OCD: A Journey to Recovery

Welcome to my very first book review! I’m honored that it’s for Overcoming OCD: A Journey to Recovery by tireless OCD advocate and blogger, Janet Singer. Name a topic related to OCD, and I’ll bet Janet has written about it–thoughtfully and thoroughly. Janet started ocdtalk after her son, Dan, struggled with and eventually triumphed over OCD, and Overcoming OCD is all about Dan’s trial-and-error, often rocky road to recovery.

Overcoming OCDCan I start by saying how much I connect to the title of this book? I’m always stressing that recovery is a journey, a truth that Janet illustrated with often heartbreaking detail in Overcoming OCD. I’ve read several books about OCD, but this is the first book I’ve read that isn’t by someone who has OCD or someone who treats OCD. Overcoming OCD is about a mother’s quest to find the right help for her college-age son, and I learned a lot from this totally different perspective, not to mention from the informative sidebars written by Seth J. Gillihan, PhD. Honestly, I think I know a lot about OCD, but I found myself engrossed in the pages of this book, even wondering “What’s wrong with Dan?!” Someone at Rowman & Littlefield, the book’s publisher, knows a thing or two about pacing and keeping a reader hooked.

Dr. Gillihan discussed topics I’m already well versed in, such as ERP and enabling OCD, but he also wrote about such topics as transitioning from residential treatment back into “real” life, the use of benzodiazepines (for example, Xanax) in the treatment of OCD, and side effects of residential treatment–to name a few. Sometimes I was so into the story itself that I skipped his sidebars and came back to read them later, and sometimes I was so intrigued to learn more from his clinical perspective I dove in right away.

Janet went to hell and back to get the proper treatment for her son, and I felt like I was right there with her through the frustrating meetings, setbacks, and triumphs. I found myself shaking my head in disbelief at times, and nodding with understanding–and a lump in my throat–at others. Janet was often between a rock and a hard place as a parent of a young adult; she sometimes had to fight for medical information because he was over 18, but he still desperately needed his parents’ help, as most college students do in one way or another.

It was hard for me to read about Dan’s struggles with medication because I hit a home run with my medication. The first antidepressant, an SSRI, worked well for me, and I can live with the mild side effects. Dan’s doctors put him on a roller coaster ride with so much trial and error it’s no wonder many people with OCD fear medication. At times Janet knew more about the medication her son was on than the prescribing doctor did.

I highly recommend Overcoming OCD, whether you have OCD, you treat OCD, or you have a loved one with OCD. Heck, I recommend it even if you’ve never even heard of OCD. The sad truth is that not enough healthcare providers understand obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Janet’s son Dan suffered for it. But Dan eventually came out the other side victorious, in large part because Janet was relentless in her quest to see her son freed from his obsessions–all while stressing how important it was for him to learn to live with OCD and not expect perfection.