" If you do it (living) properly, you don't know how the next sentence will begin."
Lily Bailey is a young British writer and model.
Lily Bailey is pretty and funny.
Lily Bailey also has a secret: she used to have an imaginary friend who didn't have a name, who would, under an amicable disguise, control her thoughts and stub out any of her attempt to enjoy life like a normal human being.
Lily Bailey has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, known as OCD.
I started reading this bewitching, gut-wrenching, highly instructive and most importantly, insanely funny memoir after the 'incident' where I left the house one morning, not fully remembering whether or not I have turned off the portable fan heater. Images of the place being engulfed in wolfish fire kept popping up in my head 'like unwanted dinner guests' and how am I going to afford the rehabilitation anyways? I started to panic and spent the entire afternoon worrying myself half to death. I have had OCD symptoms sporadically ever since I was a young kid. For example, if I'm to leave my place unattended over night, I would lock the door and turn the doorknob on the other side several times with full strength till the physical discomfort felt by my hand gets registered so that if I can't really remember (if my brain cunningly tells me I've forgotten) whether or not I have locked the door, I can then say 'ah, but my hand did hurt. The physical discomfort was real. Therefore the door is locked and nobody will come in and read my private diaries. But is it?' Or when I throw a cigarette butt into a street bin, I would somehow convince myself that I didn't fully extinguish the cigarrette and the bin will eventually be caught on fire. I would every now and then be browsing through news websites to see if there has been any report on a potential pyromaniac threatening to destroy the tranquility of the suburban life in so-and-so area and waiting for policemen to knock on my door. So these are some of my OCD moments and I know for a fact that it can get nasty and you don't want to live with it.
It is with this (limited) knowledge that I have about OCD that I started reading this book and was soon surprised that the author's daily experiences are so utterly different from this knowledge. I can relate to the topic, yet find myself dealing with a previously unheard of side of this topic and expanding my pre-existing knowledge of it. PERFECT! To be frank, if this book goes on and on about having to check things multiple times and how annoying to always worry about unlocked doors and fully operating heaters, I would probably get bored and blame myself for always purchasing books with sensational titles. In fact, Lily Bailey's childhood and adolescent years weren't just a little inconvenient, her OCD was so severe and debilitating that she was practically living in hell! Convinced by the idea of being a bad person, she would make lists of things she has previouslty done wrong in her head and sort them into categories before fully evaluating and analysizing which actions can be excused and which can't and therefore must avoid making in the future. If this doesn't sound crazy enough, she would always assume people hold a negative view of her being a pervert, a paedophile, an unhygenic bitch. (How did she even survive and end up delivering such a beautiful book?!) Despite bearing a grim subject, Lily Bailey's whimsical sense of humour shines through her writing beautifully and hence approaching and re-telling her rather tragic life experiences in a surprising and refreshing direction. This is not a memoir packed with endless complaints fuelled by a low self-esteem (um...no thanks); this is a FAP memoir that can be summerised in her style as follows:
FUNNY: This book is just so goddamn funny. It makes you laugh your head off uncontrollably (while certainly at one point towards the end, making your eyes a little damp as well). Will the readers think it is written by a pathetic foolish clown who knows nothing but to make herself the butt of jokes? Certainly not. It takes serious talents to approach such a gloomy topic with a lightheartedness that also possesses the power to teach.
PHILOSOPHICAL: It ends with a powerful statement, a statement that has helped her escape, however temporarily, the torments of her condition, a statement that can apply to not just people sufferring from OCD, but each one of us. That it is not true that we exist because we are bad, but because we just aren't so perfect. Does this make the author seem like a potentious smartass who is only capable of writing clichés? Certainly not. Most of us tend to spend time mulling over stupid or not so stupid things we can done and we cringe: Why did I say that at the party? Why did I offer to sing a song at the school assembly and embarass myself in front of a hundred people? Why did my hair look so stupid in this photo? The truth is, we cannot undo what we have done and so we may as well just forget about it, live in the moment and be mindful while our mind is not too full (of magic thinking).
It could've been much more wicked if the summary of the book is FAB and I just can't think of any synonym for philosophical that starts with the letter B. Does it really matter? Life doesn't always go as planned and that's why life is so mysterious, delicious and fun. That's what I learned from this memoir.