Because We Are Bad is a devastating memoir where the author actually lived, breathed and believed the title. The book is a chronicle of Lily Bailey’s years spend living with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) from her initial diagnosis as a child through to becoming a young woman. The story is a relatable, first person account of the mental illness and it’s one that should resonate with people who have this disorder as well as helping to dispel some of the misconceptions that are out there.
This book is reminiscent of Emily Reynold’s A Beginner’s Guide to Losing Your Mind. Both volumes are by young, English female journalists and they are honest accounts of their grapples with mental illness. Neither book attempts to romanticise the individual’s respective disorder, instead they attempt to remove the stigmas surrounding it with their brutally honest and forthright accounts.
In Bailey’s case the story is told in the first person along with her complex alter ego (a manifestation of her illness). Bailey recalls the distresses she experienced from early childhood when she was concerned that her sister would come into harm or even die if she failed to check up on her. These ideas became obtrusive thoughts that were repeated to the point of becoming an elaborate system consisting of actual rituals.
Lily spent a lot of time ruminating over negative thoughts. She would worry that she had poor personal hygiene and that people hated her or thought she was a pervert. She collected these ideas and constantly thought about the first letters of each word relating to these things. Bailey’s struggles escalated and became a silent battle that plagued her day and night to the point that it became a crippling disease.
Because We Are Bad may be a raw and heart-breaking read but it’s also a hopeful one. Bailey is now a successful model and journalist and hopefully readers can take away and learn from the things that helped her. In Bailey’s case this was cognitive behaviour therapy, which included response prevention and exposure as well as medication and group therapy. Because We Are Bad shows the inner turbulent life of a vulnerable young woman who has OCD and it also proves that people do not need to be alone in their mental health struggles. By reading such accounts we can all have a more realistic view of what the individuals with these diseases experience so that we can all get real about mental illness and the way it impacts life.
***Please note: a free copy of this book was won by the writer through a Bookstr giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: https://www.bookstr.com/book/because-we-are-bad/10700167/