OCD Book Review: I Hardly Ever Wash My Hands by J.J. Keeler

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An awesome 5 star read!

Recently, I received an email from TLC Book Tours asking me if I would review a memoir by a fellow OCD sufferer. Of course I said yes, because I love books, memoirs, and the word “free.” I am so glad I did, because I ended up reading the best book on OCD I ever read. The book is I Hardly Ever Ever Wash My Hands: The Other Side of OCD by J.J. Keeler. It was as though the author ran a spinal tap to my soul and drained out my own experiences with OCD. If you suffer from OCD, you might get the same jolt of recognition from I Hardly Ever Wash My Hands as I did. This book is also invaluable to those who ‘suffer’ a friend or family member with OCD. One receives a candid look into the mind of  an OCD sufferer and the horrors we often suffer in silence day by day. Fortunately, the book isn’t a dark abyss of misery either. J.J. Keeler has a brilliant sense of humor that shines through the book’s heavy subject matter and shows that we aren’t just a bundle of nervous buzz kills, that we can indeed be ‘normal’ on the outside, that we can be fun, and we are good people. Really, this is a book anyone can enjoy and learn from, an entertaining summer read that shines a light on the fact that no one is ‘perfectly normal.’

I Hardly Ever Wash My Hands is not a memoir about the pop culture OCD sufferer, the meticulously clean germ phobe who keeps everything in its place. When a friend suggests to her that she may have OCD, the author responds with, “but I hardly ever wash my hands.” I had a similar reaction when I was diagnosed. I remember saying to my shrink, “but I don’t compulsively wash my hands or flip light switches over and over.” It’s all here in the book, the truth about how OCD messes with the mind. I could identify with the author from page 1. I used to “catch” AIDS all the time too and was afraid of being pricked by a wayward needle in the grass. When Keeler describes being afraid that her teddy bear had a bomb inside, I could recall my own teddy incident. Except mine was an orange squirrel. I was convinced it was full of drugs that would either kill me or get me thrown in prison. Afraid of stabbing someone just because one sees a knife and being filled with terrifying images of hurting people? I’ve been there before. Ritualized praying, I still have the T-shirt for that one. 

J.J. Keeler

J.J. Keeler also shows us how some phobias are normal, that not everything is our OCD. She also addresses what to do if you are just realizing you might have OCD. She reminds us that those who pontificate on how “it’s all in our head and we don’t need medicine or therapy” don’t have a clue. It’s really difficult dealing with people who think they know everything about our issues,

English: Teddy bear Français : Ours en peluche

and just this reminder from Keeler is extremely comforting. We are able to see through Keeler that OCD isn’t curable, but one can live a life not dictated by our mental illness. The most important point of I Hardly Ever Wash My Hands, however, is seeing that we are not alone. 

Here is a link to other blog reviews for this book. http://tlcbooktours.com/2012/05/j-j-keeler-author-of-i-hardly-ever-wash-my-hands-on-tour-july-2012/

16 thoughts on “OCD Book Review: I Hardly Ever Wash My Hands by J.J. Keeler

  1. Thanks for such an awesome review and for being part of the tour. I hope you’ve got your OCD in check. Pun intended, of course. : )

    1. I thoroughly enjoyed your book, thank you very much! I hope you write a sequel. My OCD isn’t as bad as it used to be, but I’m still plagued by perfectionism and just waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop at all times. Hope your OCD mainly stays ‘checked out’ these days,too.

    1. You too! I feared you’d never get your comments straightened out. I’ve been busy, plus I’m paranoid about all my writing upsetting my roomies, lest a poorly expressed sentence gets me in trouble.
      You really should read the book, so awesome.
      I’m also reading I am Jennie, great memoir, you should read that too. Different subject though, wayyy different. Got mine on amazon. Off on a tangent.

      1. Not really a tangent. Her book is as much about compulsive thinking as this one is. I did read it, and reviewed it on the blog, and I agree it was a great read. Jennie’s still early in her recovery process, and I believe she will grow more forgiving of mistaken adaptations to trauma made in her youth. Though I don’t know her specific ambitions, I can easily see her becoming some sort of therapist who writes about psychological subjects.

  2. It sounds like an interesting book, but I have to disagree about there being no cure for OCD. I had OCD and now I don’t. I think the root cause of OCD is an unhealthy belief system – this is often some form of idealism or sense of morality which makes us intolerant of our normal angry or sexual feelings and causes us to battle against them instead of accepting them as something healthy. This can be manifested as either a fear of something within or a paranoid projection of fear onto something in the outside world such as disease. But we have grown up in a sick neurotic society which has stifled our basic needs so of course we have disturbing feelings. But if we accept them as something normal then they die down. It is only if we see them as a sickness that we have to battle against that we will keep ourselves sick. I was reading something recently about Gandhi which made me realise that he suffered from the equivalent of OCD. He was tortured throughout his life by the fact that he had secretly eaten meat in his youth and that he hadn’t been at his father’s deathbed because he was having sex with his wife. About his relationship to God he said : “For it is an unbroken torture to me that I am still so far from Him, who, as I fully know, governs every breath of my life, and whose offspring I am. I know that it is the evil passions within that keep me so far from Him, and yet I cannot get away from them.” This is such a clear case of OCD. His obsession with minor imperfections in his behaviour destroyed his life. That is insanity. But we don’t have to be like him. We can realise that any time we fail to accept something about ourselves we are not just harming ourselves we are harming those with whom we interact. Often the best way to become a healthy person is to stop trying to be a “good” person.

    1. You may disagree that OCD is incurable but Telling people how to become well is by changing your belief systems makes you no better than anyone who says any mental illness is all in the sufferers head and they need to just change perspectives to deal with it – WOW

  3. I’m so glad that you were able to identify and connect with JJ through her story. Thanks so much for being a part of the book tour! I’m featuring your review on TLC’s Facebook page today.

  4. I had no idea people with OCD worried about things like stabbing people because they saw a knife or worried about bombs inside teddy bears. Thanks for the insight.

  5. This book sounds great – definitely something that I’m going to read soon! Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

  6. Great book review – going to pick this one up – the last OCD I truly connected with was “the boy who could not stop washing his hands” which focused on how there is so much more to OCD as well. Looking forward to this read. And although it’s a famous persons take – have you read Howie mandel’s book? picked it up at Big lots for super cheap – looking forward to reading it.

  7. We’re pleased to inform you that your Blog, ‘OCDBloggerGirl’s Blog’ has been selected to be featured on our Book Blogs Facebook page at:
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    We like to pick blog posts that are well-written, topical and engaging, so congratulations! We encourage you to share this with your friends and respond to any comments the community may leave.
    If you have additional blog posts that you would like to share, please leave us a comment on our Facebook timeline. We’d love to hear from you.
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