Author of My Life in Chains: My Struggle with Obssessive Compulsive Disorder
Ruth J. Hartmanwas once “normal.” She perceived the world around her as any other person would—until she turned 27. That’s when Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) dug in its claws and refused to let her go. Her world (and her family’s) was turned inside out.
Working as a dental hygienist was difficult enough, but trying to balance her work life with the challenges of OCD was overwhelming. Ruth’s family, friends, and co-workers didn’t understand why she suddenly acted so bizarre. She wanted to help them understand, but she couldn’t. She didn’t understand it herself.
My Life in Mental Chains is moving and tragic, yet in the end, it’s an uplifting story of personal faith and inner strength. Ruth’s insight will be a great comfort to OCD sufferers, their families, and their friends.
Ruth graduated from the Indiana University School of Dentistry with a degree in Science/Dental Hygiene. Her interest in writing, which began in high school, led her to earn her diploma from the Institute of Children’s Literature in “Writing for Children and Teenagers.” She lives in rural Indiana with her husband and two cats.
My Life in Mental Chains by Ruth J. Hartman
Published by Pipers’ Ash Ltd., $13.00
Publication Date: November 1, 2008
Non-Fiction, True-Life Story Chapbook
An easy way to order the book is: http://www.supamasu.co.uk/glos.html
(Ruth will be replying to your comments and questions all day, so ask away! And you’ll be entered in the random drawing to receive free a copy of her e-book.)
MJC: I see that you’re a graduate of Institute of Children’s Literature. I’m a former student as well. Can you tell me about your experience with this correspondence school for those who are contemplating this form of education?
Ruth: I had a very good experience with them. My instructor was friendly, yet very professional. I was supplied with study guides, practice exercises, and even sample children’s books. I was given deadlines for homework completion, but she was patient with me if I needed a little more time. If someone wants to learn the craft of writing for children and teenagers, I would definitely recommend them.
MJC: As writers, we seem to obsess over everything in the process: plot, theme, wording, characterization and more. What are the true signs of having an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? Can you offer any tips from your book on how you are overcoming this disease?
Ruth: Many people have slight OCD tendencies. It’s when those tendencies grow and begin to take over your life that you’ve got a problem. Mine were so severe; I had to quit my job as a dental hygienist. I couldn’t cope at work anymore. I developed a fear of germs at work. In my line of work, you can imagine how often I came in contact with those! Then the problem started to take over my home life. I washed my hands so often, they were cracked and bleeding. It affected every facet of my life.
Thankfully, I found an excellent psychiatrist who helped me tremendously. But even more than that, I was able to find a medication, Prozac that allows me to function normally again, with only occasional, short-lived occurrences.
MJC: How do you feel that your OCD has either helped or hindered your writing?
Ruth: I think sometimes it actually helps. Although I’d never wish it on anyone! When I have an assignment or story to write, my OCD kicks into overdrive and pushes me to stick with my project until it’s finished. My husband is afraid that one of these days I will actually become physically glued to my laptop! On the flip side, It’s easy to obsess about what people think of my work. Will they like what I’ve written? Will they like me? I just have to remind myself that I can’t please everyone. If I’m happy with my work, that’s enough.
MJC: You’re a published writer of both fiction and nonfiction. Can you tell us your experience in publishing both types of work?
Ruth: Actually, I’ve only been published in non-fiction. My short story, “A Tale of No Tail” will be published in the January-February issue of “I Love Cats” magazine. It’s about my cat Arthur, who lost his tail when I accidentally closed a screen door before he was all the way in the kitchen. I still feel awful about that! My experience with that magazine was positive as well. But fiction is what I really love to write. I just haven’t found the right publisher for my stories yet.
MJC: Your book, My Life in Mental Chains: My Struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, is published by Piper’s Ash, a UK based publisher, yet you live in Indiana (USA). How did you find this publisher and what was your experience like working with a publisher from overseas, especially since they work with a different currency?
Ruth: I found their listing in the “Magazine Markets for Children’s Writers.” My original query was for a fictional story about a girl with OCD. They replied back that serious subjects such as OCD were better suited for their “True Life Series.” I re-queried with my own experience, and it was accepted. They’ve been wonderful to work with. They’re a small, non-profit publisher, so they only work with a few clients at a time. I’ve gotten personalized attention and they’ve been extremely patient with me. Especially since this is my first book!
There were a few differences between this publisher and an American one. It takes longer for me to receive regular mail from them. I waited six weeks for my five complimentary books. I learned that when their web site lists a certain amount in pounds, as opposed to dollars, I’d be paying twice as much. I guess the good news is, when I get paid an amount in pounds, it will end up being more in our currency! (NOTE: When ordering direct from Pipers Ash, readers should expect to recieve their e-book in the mail within 1-2 weeks.)
Also, one thing I had to get used to: when we use quotation marks, they’re double. In England, they often use single quotes. When I got my page proofs from them, I thought it was a mistake at first. Then I researched it on the Internet and found out that’s a normal practice in the U.K.
MJC: Thank you so much for sharing your writing experiences and your struggles with OCD with the readers here at Writers Inspired.
Be sure to leave your comments for Ruth on today’s post before 12 midnight (CENTRAL) for a chance to win your own copy of Ruth’s e-book: My Life in Chains
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