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.
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
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.