Anyone who has ever suffered even a mild form of obsessive-compulsive disorder an anxiety condition characterized by recurring negative thoughts and repetitive behaviors) will cringe with recognition when reading Amen, Amen, Amen, Abby Sher's new memoir about her struggle with the disease.
As a child, Sher suffered the loss of a favorite aunt and then her adoring father, over two consecutive summers. These deaths triggered the onset of Sher's OCD, which started with her kissing a photo of her dead father hundreds of times at once and praying compulsively every time an ambulance passed. Her OCD rituals soon expanded to picking up trash-lest the errant items accidentally kill someone-and praying for several hours a day. And though she sought therapy and medication, these behaviors continued into adulthood. Even as she landed a dream job as a player in Chicago's renowned Second City improvisation troupe and fell in love with a patient, loving man, Sher became anorexic and started cutting herself; when the thrill of cutting wore off, she took to punching herself in the head until she nearly passed out. ~Sher's tone is inviting and warm, even as she's portraying exactly how stifling and debilitating OCD can be-and her descriptions of the rituals and behaviors associated with the disorder are dead-on. Sher, a comedic actress, also laces the book with welcome dashes of humor, though this is mostly a serious and thoughtful memoir. With Amen, Amen, Amen, Sher re-creates the madness of obsessive-compulsive disorder so vividly that almost every reader will see traces of their own habits in her haunting descriptions.