Book Review: Because We are Bad: OCD and a Girl Lost in Thought

Lily pictured with a copy of her book.

'Because We are Bad: OCD and a Girl Lost in Thought' is a new book about one young lady's experiences of growing up with OCD. The book was published last week, so we sent a review copy to one of our members, James Lloyd, and this is his review.

Book review by James Lloyd
Because We Are Bad: OCD and a Girl Lost in Thought
by Lily Bailey. Published by Canbury Press, Hardback, £14.99

The next time someone tells you that they’re “a little bit OCD”, give them a copy of this book. Because We Are Bad is a moving, searingly honest account of what it’s really like to live with OCD. Lily takes us back to her early experiences of the illness, describing how it took root inside her mind and evolved into a monster.

Lily’s story, as with most OCD stories, begins with intrusive thoughts. During her early schooldays, she explains how it felt like there were two people battling for space inside her head: her everyday self, and also a critical, nagging hanger-on who seemed to delight in feeding her all kinds of horrible thoughts. In response to the thoughts, Lily began to carry out compulsions. Washing her hands. Checking her little sister was still breathing. Going through rituals until the small hours of the morning.

And so began the vicious cycle of OCD. By the time Lily was at boarding school, she was categorising every ‘bad’ thought that she had, painstakingly assessing each one in turn. It was exhausting and took up most of her time, but only served to tighten OCD’s grip. This circle of obsessions and compulsions became unsustainable when Lily went away to university, and things soon came to a head.

Because We Are Bad is an emotional, challenging read. Lily takes us deep into the heart of the illness – a world of pain, pills and Priory trips. But Lily is also a deft writer, and even the darkest moments are peppered with wit and wry observations. While in a posh Harley Street clinic waiting to see a psychiatrist, she notes that there’s a piano in the corner of the waiting room “in case some poor soul becomes so overwhelmed with the melancholic beauty of the situation they feel the need to transmit their soul into sound.” Lily says that she’s tempted to go over and start hammering away the theme to Jaws.

As someone who suffers with OCD, I know how difficult it can be to explain the illness to others. That Lily manages to do so with humour, verve and lucidity is testament to her writing and her formidable honesty. And the ultimate message is one that I’ll be holding close to my heart – there’s no such thing as a bad thought.

James Lloyd is a writer and journalist in the UK


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