Cover image for Because we are bad : OCD and a girl lost in thought
Because we are bad : OCD and a girl lost in thought
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Harper, [2018]

Physical Description:
viii, 257 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Reprint. Originally published: Kingston upon Thames : Canbury Press, 2016.
Chesbury Hospital -- My friend -- The letter -- New school -- Mum and Dad -- Swearing in church -- Most apologetic girl -- Hambledon -- Running from words -- Stumbling -- Special Needs Department -- Coming home -- Doctor, doctor -- Pills, pills, pills -- Driving -- Those who love me -- Thailand -- Dublin -- It is my fault -- Mental ward -- Harley Street -- Urine test -- Loser, friend -- Skating -- Ashleaves -- Nursery -- Journalism -- Rocky -- The truth.
As a child, Lily knew she was bad. By the age of 13, she had killed someone with a thought, spread untold disease, and spied on her friends. Only by performing a series of secret routines could she correct her wrongdoing. But it was never enough. She had a severe case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and it ruled her life. A startling true story.


Material Type
Shelf Number
Item Note
Book 616.85227 BAILEY 1
Book 616.85227 BAILEY 1 .SOURCE. BT 4-27-18

On Order

Prescott Public Library1Received on 4/12/18



A Washington Post Best Book of 2018

"One of the best [books] I have read on the phenomenology of OCD."--Scott Stossel, the Washington Post

Written with the indelible power of Girl, Interrupted, Brain on Fire, and Reasons to Stay Alive, a lyrical, poignant memoir by a young woman about her childhood battle with debilitating obsessive compulsive disorder, and her hard-won journey to recovery.

By the age of thirteen, Lily Bailey was convinced she was bad. She had killed someone with a thought, spread untold disease, and ogled the bodies of other children. Only by performing an exhausting series of secret routines could she make up for what she'd done. But no matter how intricate or repetitive, no act of penance was ever enough.

Beautifully written and astonishingly intimate, Because We Are Bad recounts a childhood consumed by obsessive compulsive disorder. As a child, Bailey created a second personality inside herself--"I" became "we"--to help manifest compulsions that drove every minute of every day of her young life. Now she writes about the forces beneath her skin, and how they ordered, organized, and urged her forward. Lily charts her journey, from checking on her younger sister dozens of times a night, to "normalizing" herself at school among new friends as she grew older, and finally to her young adult years, learning--indeed, breaking through--to make a way for herself in a big, wide world that refuses to stay in check.

Charming and raw, harrowing and redemptive, Because We Are Bad is an illuminating and uplifting look into the mind and soul of an extraordinary young woman, and a startling portrait of OCD that allows us to see and understand this condition as never before.

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

London-based model and journalist Bailey offers an authentic and stunning account of her struggle with obsessive compulsive disorder in this beautifully-rendered memoir. Readers may initially wonder why the narrator often refers to herself as "we," but will soon realize that the dueling voice inside Bailey's head is an imaginary "friend" who reinforces intrusive thoughts, feeding into the author's feelings of unworthiness. Bailey has a supportive family; though her parents divorce, they are committed to helping their daughter, who is diagnosed with OCD as a teen. Bailey does well in school (especially after receiving extra time for tests), but her interior dialogue is rife with worry and self-blame; it takes hours to fall asleep at night due to her analysis of intricate lists of perceived mistakes she's made each day, along with her various routines (for example, tiptoeing into her sister's room to see if she's still breathing). Under the care of a psychiatrist, Bailey improves, but while attending college in Dublin she backslides and attempts suicide. Bailey is a vulnerable, vibrant, and courageous narrator. Daniel Lazar, Writers House. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

Bailey is 16 when she is diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder. I make lists of everything I've done that might be wrong, she tells her mother, explaining that she obsessively repeats them over and over to analyze them. She feels the need to be perfect, but the fact is that, since she was a little girl, she has felt she is bad. Not only her but the second Lily who lives in her head, who tells her what to do. I'm nothing without her, she confesses to her therapist. That will be put to the test when her friend suddenly leaves her. She is bereft but continues her obsessive behavior until her condition becomes unbearable, and she attempts suicide. In the wake of her attempt, she is institutionalized, but nothing seems to help until something a support group begins to make a difference. Bailey is unsparing in her well-written memoir of her struggles with OCD, giving readers an intimate experience of living with the disorder. Her account focuses much-needed light on a condition that demands to be better understood.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2018 Booklist

Kirkus Review

A British model and writer's account of how she learned to live with obsessive-compulsive disorder.As a child, the author privately referred to herself as "we." However, the girl that "shared" Bailey's mind was no imaginary friend: she was the "other" who drove her to check on her sleeping sister several times a night, wash her hands to rawness, and mentally repeat elaborate "prayer[s]." She existed to ensure that Bailey carried out rituals as "protection against everything going wrong" and make up for all her real and imagined mistakes, from killing someone with a thought to spreading deadly disease. As Bailey grew up, her secret "other" became increasingly exacting and onerous: "she [was] a bansheea spoiled child demanding the whole of me." By the time the author was an adolescent, her "double" made her recite long strings of letters in her head, each of which stood for the first letter of an action (such as staring) or a thing (such as bad breath) for which she sought retribution. Bailey finally revealed her list-making habit to a school doctor, who referred her to a psychiatrist named Dr. Finch. Intensive therapy helped the author free herself from her "other," whom she then "replaced" with her doctor. Determined to free herself from dependence on Dr. Finch, the author severed their connection and stopped taking medication after leaving England to attend college in Ireland. The result was a first term characterized by heavy drinking, shoplifting, and attempted suicide. Only after returning to London to face her demons and work through transference issues with her psychiatrist was Bailey finally able to find relief from her overactive mind and the underlying anxiety that had defined her life. In her courageous book, the author offers compelling insight into the pain and destructive power of OCD as well as the resilience of a young woman determined to beat the odds.A harrowingly honest memoir of profound psychological struggle. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Library Journal Review

For as long as journalist Bailey could remember, "me" was "we." When Bailey was a child, she created an imaginary friend that lived inside her head to cope with what she later found out was obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Bailey went through every day of her life obsessing over the things she'd done that might be bad. Accidentally brushing against another person, speaking too loudly, and her grumbling stomach resulted in hours of thought. She spent countless afternoons and sleepless nights creating mental lists considering how bad or rude her actions were. Only by performing a set of routines for hours could she make up for her behavior. This made every human interaction extremely difficult because it led to potential bad behaviors and more compulsions. As Bailey became a teen and a young adult, her OCD spiraled out of control and she had to find ways to break through and cope with her fractured thinking. VERDICT Bailey's memoir is an insightful look into growing up with OCD and a great choice for readers of books such as Susanna Kaysen's Girl Interrupted. By transporting readers into her world, she makes understandable the urgent and debilitating obsessions of her experience.-Kristen Calvert, Marion Cty. P.L. Syst., Belleview, FL © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.




Chesbury Hospital

From the outside, Chesbury Hospital in London looks like a castle that got lost and was plonked down in the wrong place. It is long and white, with battlements and arched windows from which princesses could call down, in the chapter before they are saved.

But it's not entirely believable. Where the portcullis should be, there are giant glass doors. Walk through them, and you could be in a five-star hotel. The man at reception wears a suit and tie and asks if he can help, like he's going to book you a table. A glass cupboard showcases the gifts sold by reception: bath oils, rejuvenating face cream, and Green & Black's chocolate, just in case you arrive empty-handed to see a crazy relative and need an icebreaker.

The walls, lampshades, window fittings, and radiators are all a similar, unnameable colour, somewhere between brown, yellow, and cream. A looping gold chandelier is suspended by a heavy chain; the fireplace has marble columns. The members of staff have busy, preoccupied faces--until they come close to you, when their mouths break into wide, fixed smiles.

Compared with the Harley Street clinic, there is a superior 

choice of herbal teas. When the police arrived after the escape, Mum cried a lot; then she shouted. Now she has assumed a sense of British resolve. She queries: 'Wild Jasmine, Purple Rose, or Earl Grey?'

A nurse checks through my bag, which has been lugged upstairs. She takes the razor (fair enough), tweezers (sort of fair enough), a bottle of Baileys lying forgotten in the handbag (definitely fair enough), and headphones (definitely not fair enough). There would never be a hanging: far too much mess.

The observation room is next to the nurses' station; they keep you there until you are no longer a risk to yourself.

It is 10th January, 2013, and I am 19.

Excerpted from Because We Are Bad: OCD and a Girl Lost in Thought by Lily Bailey All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

1 Chesbury Hospitalp. 1
2 My Friendp. 3
3 The Letterp. 5
4 New Schoolp. 11
5 Mum and Dadp. 19
6 Swearing in Churchp. 29
7 Most Apologetic Girlp. 37
8 Hambledonp. 47
9 Running from Wordsp. 55
10 Stumblingp. 61
11 Special Needs Departmentp. 67
12 Coming Homep. 73
13 Doctor, Doctorp. 83
14 Pills, Pills, Pillsp. 95
15 Drivingp. 105
16 Those Who Love Mep. 119
17 Thailandp. 129
18 Dublinp. 143
19 It Is My Faultp. 159
20 Mental Wardp. 163
21 Harley Streetp. 169
22 Urine Testp. 179
23 Loser, Friendp. 191
24 Skatingp. 199
25 Ashleavesp. 207
26 Nurseryp. 217
27 Journalismp. 229
28 Rockyp. 241
29 The Truthp. 251
Acknowledgmentsp. 259