Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Health Column Guest Writer – How interacting with OCD sufferers has influenced my writing by Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle has been a frequent guest on Smorgasbord over the last two years, writing about a wide range of subjects. Today Robbie shares the condition OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), her observations in those that suffer from OCD and how it has influenced her writing.

How interacting with OCD sufferers has influenced my writing by Robbie Cheadle

What is OCD?

According to the American Psychiatric Association, obsessive-compulsive disorder (“OCD”) is an anxiety disorder in which time people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions). The repetitive behaviors, such as hand washing, checking on things or cleaning, can significantly interfere with a person’s daily activities and social interactions.
Obsessions are involuntary thoughts, images, or impulses that occur over and over again in your mind. You don’t want to have these ideas, but you can’t stop them. Unfortunately, these obsessive thoughts are often disturbing and distracting.

The cycle of OCD

Compulsions are behaviours or rituals that a person feels compelled to act out again and again. OCD sufferers develop compulsions in an attempt to control obsessive and intrusive thoughts. For example, if an OCD sufferer is afraid of contamination, he/she may develop complicated cleaning rituals. The relief provided by compulsive behaviour, unfortunately, never lasts and usually increases over time, in tandem with increased anxiety by the OCD sufferer as a result of the time-consuming and invasive nature of the rituals.

Related conditions

Other conditions that share selected features of OCD occur more frequently in family members of OCD sufferers. These include, for example, body dysmorphic disorder (preoccupation with imagined ugliness), hypochondriasis (preoccupation with physical illness), trichotillomania (hair pulling), some eating disorders such as binge eating disorders, and neurologically based disorders such as Tourette’s syndrome (a disorder that involves repetitive movements or unwanted sounds (tics) that can’t be easily controlled by the sufferer).

OCD and my life

Over the course of my life, I have known, and lived with, several people who suffer from OCD and its related conditions, in particular, Bulimia, trichotillomania and Tourette’s syndrome. I came to realise many years ago that these disorders are like having a stutter, only of the mind rather than the physical body. A sufferer’s mind literally gets stuck on a disruptive thought and must repeatedly perform rituals in order to gain relief from it.

It is unfortunate that OCD sufferers are often highly intelligent over achievers who are able to hide their symptoms effectively from people outside of the home which results in a lack of understanding of, and sympathy towards, this illness. I recently wrote a piece of flash fiction where I likened an OCD sufferer to someone in a mental wheelchair. I think this is an apt description and if people could view mental disorders in this light, maybe there would be more understanding and sympathy of these conditions. Being in a wheelchair does not mean you cannot do things, it merely means that certain interventions are required for facilitate the achievement of specific objectives.

OCD and my story in Whispers of the Past

The paranormal anthology, Whispers of the Past, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth, features a short story of mine entitled, Missed Signs. The idea for this story came to me last year when I was reading up on rabies and discovered that there are still rare cases of rabies occurring in humans.

I wove the idea of a young man suffering from OCD with a fear of germs and illness together with the concept of a human contracting rabies through an animal bite and Missed Signs was born.

Writing this story required a fair bit of research on rabies and how it effects humans which I found interesting. The OCD symptoms and rituals were easy enough for me to include with my personal experience of this illness.

This story also exposes my own personal view that when a child or dependent continuously requires reassurance in respect of every small health issue, it can result in their caregivers becoming indifferent to their concerns. In these circumstances, it would be easy for a caregiver to fail to investigate the cause behind a particular anxiety and a real health problem could easily be dismissed as part of a new ritual or as a symptom of OCD, without giving it proper consideration or attention.

©Robbie Cheadle 2020


About Robbie Cheadle

Robbie, short for Roberta, is an author with five published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with her son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about her mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with her mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of Robbie’s children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications. Robbie has recently branched into adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential her children’s books from her adult writing, these will be published under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. Robbie has two short stories in the horror/supernatural genre included in Dark Visions, a collection of 34 short stories by 27 different authors and edited by award winning author, Dan Alatorre. These short stories are published under Robbie Cheadle.

I have been drawn to the horror and supernatural genres of books all my life. At the age of ten years old I embarked on reading Stephen King’s books including The Shining and Salem’s Lot. These books scared me so much I had to put them aside by 6P.M. in the evening in order to get a good night’s sleep but they also fascinated me. I subsequently worked my way through all of Stephen King’s earlier books as well as those of Dean R. Koontz.

I have read a large number of classics, in particular, I enjoy Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Charles Dickens and the works of the Bronte sisters.

I am hugely interested in the history of the United Kingdom as well as the mythology and tales of the paranormal that are abundant on this intriguing European island.

A small selection of other Sir Chocolate stories co-written with Michael Cheadle and other work by Roberta Eaton Cheadle

One of the recent reviews for Through the Nethergate

After the death of her parents, Margaret moves to Bungay, England to live with her grandfather. Once there, she realizes she can see the spirits of the dead. Even more terrifying, Margaret sees the spirits of how they looked at the moment of their death. If that’s not creepy enough, hang on… this story takes a dark turn. Soon, Margaret realizes she must figure out how to free these lost souls from the ultimate evil.

Some ghosts are evil and some are good, while others seem to be stuck between the worlds in a sort of limbo. Margaret’s gift of sight acts as a catalyst for some and the ghosts begin to incarnate and interact with our world. All of this activity alerts the big guy below, and he fantasizes about Margaret’s abilities and what her power could do for him.

Cheadle builds her story off of the legend of Black Shuck, the Devil Dog of Bungay who in 1577 terrorized the parishioners of the local church by killing two people kneeling in prayer after bursting through the church doors amid a flash of lightning. In the book, the dog resurfaces as the evil Hugh Bigod, the vilest of spirits who commands the other spirits who chose not to go into the light when they died.

Read all the reviews and buy the books:Amazon US

And on Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Robbie on Goodreads: Goodreads

Connect to Robbie Cheadle

Website/Blog Roberta Writes: Roberta Writes
Blog: Robbie’s Inspiration
Website: Robbie Cheadle:
Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books
Twitter: @bakeandwrite

My thanks to Robbie for sharing this post on a debilitating condition that severely impacts the lives of an estimated  750,000 people in the UK alone.

For more information: OCDUK

Thank you for joining us today and as always your feedback is very welcome.. thanks Sally.


60 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Health Column Guest Writer – How interacting with OCD sufferers has influenced my writing by Robbie Cheadle

  1. Outstanding post, Robbie! Mental illness, in general, is not fully understood and an area that we all need to be more educated about. People who have OCD are not making a conscious choice to live with their obsessions and compulsions. In many ways, it is a constant struggle.

    I used to work with a lady who was obsessive about needing everything in order. If a stack of Kleenex boxes were slightly askew, she had a need to straighten them out. It made her physically uncomfortable if she could not sit at the same spot at our lunch table. These are things that many people would not even think about, but to her, they were compulsions.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s true that many OCD people are intelligent and overachievers. It’s the repetitive behavior drives them for perfection and their productivity. It’s challenging to have family members with OCD as well as working with the staff especially a boss with OCD.

    Thank you for sharing, Robbie, and for hosting, Sally. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Health Column Guest Writer – How interacting with OCD sufferers has influenced my writing by Robbie Cheadle | Writing to be Read

  4. A subject which needs to be highlighted and is often either not acknowledged by the sufferer or indeed by family/friends the cycle then continues. My quirks I just see as that..coat hangers must be all the same way and clothes in colours…the same as my pantry and fridge it must be orderly…easier when checking for what you need…I can justify everything…Plain fussy or OCD? I think it can be a fine line…Good post, Robbie 🙂 xx

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Health Column Guest Writer – How interacting with OCD sufferers has influenced my writing by Robbie Cheadle – Roberta Writes

  6. Thanks Robbie for this post. My mother suffered with OCD. It used to take her ages to get out of the door as she had to continually keep checking if the lights were out, the gas cooker was off, and switches were off. I used to tell her they were off, but she would never trust me.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – 2nd – 8th February 2020 – Jazz, Italian Valentines appetizer, Guests, Books, Reviews and Funnies | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  8. Hi Robbie – thanks for sharing your thoughts on OCD and how your relationships with those who suffer from it have influenced you and your writing. I think those who struggle with OCD put themselves under tremendous pressure around others to appear normal and when they get home they have to release that control. I think everyone can relate to not wanting to admit to be worrying about something that seems foolish or out of our control, or for checking more than once that the stove and oven are off. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. “It is unfortunate that OCD sufferers are often highly intelligent over achievers who are able to hide their symptoms effectively from people outside of the home which results in a lack of understanding of, and sympathy towards, this illness.”

    This is such an important point.

    OCD also often requires high level of intelligence and creativity to keep it going, such are the intricacies and elaborate webs we create in our own brains.

    Hope you will check out my blog if you get chance :).

    Liked by 1 person

I would be delighted to receive your feedback (by commenting, you agree to Wordpress collecting your name, email address and URL) Thanks Sally

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

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

Google photo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.