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Just Checking: Scenes From the Life of an Obsessive-Compulsive

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  864 ratings  ·  116 reviews
We all worry. We all have moments of unfounded dread (Is someone behind that door?), or little phobias (roaches) or superstitions (step on a crack) that we indulge. Just Checking is an autobiographical account of what it is like to live with a full-blown case of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which, at its height, finds author Emily Colas nervous that she will contra ...more
Paperback, 165 pages
Published June 1st 1999 by Washington Square Press
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I really wanted to like this book - a personal look at OCD that was touted as a funny yet personal glimpse into one woman's daily rituals and compulsions. David Sedaris even gave the book a great review - how could I not like it?

For starters, Colas is amazingly immature throughout. She manipulates and wheedles and whines until her husband goes along with her "compulsions" (though after a while they felt oddly like whims to me. I swear I could practically hear her thinking, "Hm, I wonder if he'll
Apr 28, 2012 Stephanie rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: No one
Recommended to Stephanie by: Random Purchase
I picked up this book at a Goodwill, so I didn't spend much money on it. I am so glad! It is described as "laugh-out-loud hilarious". It also seemed interesting. OCD has always fascinated me, and I've been hooked on memoirs where people overcome obstacles in their lives. I wanted to like this book. There were a few things that kept me from enjoying it.

*Possible Spoilers*

I enjoyed the first quarter of the book. After that, it felt to me that Colas had a lot of people in her life that enabled her.
I judge this kind of book against one standard: Is YOUR crazy crazier than MY crazy? And by that I mean me personally, my friends and family, and so on. In this case, kinda sorta, but really, in the end, not really. She starts out strong, when it's easy to see how numerous compulsions are negatively affecting her life. However, once again we end up with a woman safely in the arms of an enabling, loving husband (for awhile, anyway). To put it bluntly, this coddled housewife has free reign to indu ...more
My best friend has OCD. The real OCD, not the stupid little quirks and things we all have that people call OCD. This is one of her favorite books, and she gave it to me to read so that I would have a better understanding of what it is like to have this particular disorder, that very much disrupts and interferes with everyday life. It's an honest and rather funny memior, and I really loved it. I've learned a lot about obsessive compulsive disorder from my friend, and because of that, I get pretty ...more
I enjoy reading memoirs but this one was poorly written and too breezy for my taste. Although the author has a sense of humor, she did not seem to have much compassion.
Told in brief vignettes, this is the story of a woman's torment from obsessive compulsive disorder to finally admitting she needed help and her recovery. There were times that the author annoyed me and I grew frustrated with her denial and refusal to get help even though she was clearly very sick. Her husband, who stood by her for much of the book, seemed to take a lot. she writes it off as codependence, but there must have been more than that as a reason to stay. That made her affair at the end ...more
I thought this book was hilarious...I laughed out loud several times. With that said, I found the author, Emily Colas, extremely mean and selfish. I began to wonder if she really had OCD or was just trying to torture her husband.

First of all, she is terrified of her food being poisoned. So she makes her husband take the first bite (or in another instance her friend and her children). So it's okay for her husband to be poisoned but not her?

Second, she is terrified of being infected with HIV or ot
Mary Kenyon
I waffled back and forth between a two and a three rating for this book...three because there were some real "laugh out loud" moments and the style of writing actually fit the profile of the author: dis-jointed, jumping from one subject to the next, but humorous, and sad, really. I wanted to rate it a two because of the character of the author herself, and that isn't really fair. Do we rate a book a two just because we do not like the lack of values of the author. Really? How does someone with t ...more
Ivy Paul
I bought this book today at lunchtime and finished it before dinner: it was a good afternoon read. I think it's really hard to give someone's telling of their story a rating, but I'm choosing four stars because of the courage I think it takes to tell about the struggles she's been through and because I did laugh out loud several times while reading! I liked the short vignette style with some themes or details revisited throughout. Reading through some of the other reviews, I think many readers c ...more
Chrissy Spiropoulos
Brain Disorder or Public Entertainment?
Emily Colas’s “harrowing” novel, “Just Checking,” is a perfect way to get some insight on OCD, or obsessive compulsive disorder. This book takes you through scenes of Emily’s life where she had to deal with, and somewhat overcome, the burden of her disorder. The reader is being guided through many journeys having to do with marriage problems, public restaurant dilemmas, and especially maintaining a clean apartment. Emily’s story adds a touch of humor to a n
One of the most irritating memoirs I've ever read. Little more than a stand-up comedy routine, Colas mistakes sarcasm for substance and describes her struggles with obsessive compulsive disorder in a generally unenlightening and unsympathetic way. While there are moments of real wit and occasional flashes of insight, as a whole the book falls flat, and Colas comes across as self-absorbed and, I hate to say it, unlikeable.
I just love OCD memoirs. This is a hysterical read, plus very candid about the ways the author's disorder ruined parts of her life (like her marriage).
And finally, Just Checking. I bought this book SO many years ago because I have some interesting tendencies toward OCD and because a quick peruse of the book made me laugh (i.e., she is funny, not that I was laughing at her).

I finally re-picked up this book and read it from front to back. It did not quite live up to its expectations. Emily Colas is writing mini David Sedaris'esque essays on her life. It is somewhat chronological, though often flips between her past and her present, in an effort
This book was written in tiny bites, no one section spanning more than a page or two, which was kindof nice, because it made it easier to read in snippets and quick dips. It was entertaining, humourous, but also very foreign. Not being the compulsive sort, I found it just amazing that this woman laboured under these worries. I must admit I spent most of my time reading it being more grateful that it wasn't me than being particularly entertained. She did interject levity to the subject, of course ...more
Erica, my sister, tells me that she thinks I have an anxiety problem. What does that mean? I worry too much.

Personally I think I have got a pretty good handle on things. There are two categories: things you can control and things you can’t. If it falls into the former, I worry, if not, I don’t. Easy. But a lot of things fall into that first category. What can I control? I don’t really know.

My aunt thinks I worry about Grammy too much. Erica has given me that lecture too.

I am reading Just Checkin
Mindy Cho
Just Checking is a story of a lady who is dealing with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and what her daily life is. This book has short snippets and snapshots of what happens to her, an autobiographical account. This allows the readers to really understand the emotions and hardships she faces on a daily basis. The author is very open to sharing he stories and is straightforward in explaining the situations. These flashbacks shows the difficulties she faces everyday.

I really liked this book because
'Just Checking' is a series of vignettes that are honest, startling, at times very funny yet also deeply emotional. Emily relates her journey through life, from incidents during childhood, to the present day - along her journey she has been accompanied by the symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. These symptoms and this disorder have shaped Emily's whole life and her personality.
It is apparant from the writing that Emily is an intelligent woman, she realises that her thoughts and actions ar
To be fair, I would not call myself obsessive compulsive, (though my wife may have a tinge of it in her) so I cannot wholly relate to Mrs. Colas. However, she knows how to entertain, and the book is full of wit and insight and makes the reader almost feel a voyeur by delving into Colas' eccentric mind. I found myself laughing out loud on several occasions, partly because of her sarcastic writing style, and partly because some of the situations she writes about are so absurd, to think about them ...more
Jan 01, 2012 Jeannie rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: only people interested in this disorder or wanting to understand it better
I actually hated this book and didn't like the author herself much through all of the book until the end. Then it just clicked and I understood this compulsion.
Honestly, her husband had to have been a saint to put up with all of it, and I think she agrees on that point. I wouldn't have been able to be or stay friends with somoeone like this. The book seems very disjointed to me, it jumps all over the place with one crazy behaviour after the other and it just got annoying for me. I couldn't hand
Iliana Medrano
This book is basically life through the eyes of a women suffering from OCD from little things like washing the dishes to checking everything to see if there is blood on it. Emily Colas takes you through the ups and downs of her life while also dealing with her disorder.

One thing I really liked was the descriptions. It was literally like everything that went through her mind, EVERY single thought and I loved that because it gave you so much more perspective on how it must feel to have OCD

I read this heartbreaking true story, about the author who suffers from OCD, in one sitting! She gives us hints of how she became who she is and also offers us a glimpse at the people in her life who provided a net for her. Particularly, there was a heroin addicted friend. The parallels between the 2 were interesting. I like to count and sort to soothe myself. But this and similar behaviors were taken to a whole new level of paralysis. Finally, Emily is medicated @ the end of the book and experi ...more
Written in brief vignettes, Just Checking is bits and pieces of Colas's struggles with OCD. While some parts are illustrative of the symptomology of her obsessions and compulsions, others are just painful to read. Why must we suffer through her terrible poetry? Some scenes just seem to be in there for the shock value. It is hard to have sympathy for Colas as she is so help rejecting. Only the ending, where the book redeems itself, works for me.
Cherise Stone
It was exhausting just reading certain parts of this book as I imagined going through all those little processes in my mind just to complete simple, day to day tasks.
some parts of the book did make me cringe though... maybe a bit too honest!
I was wishing to read this book and laugh my butt off, sorry to say it never happened. I must admit that the screws on the light switch plate not being parallel and exactly horizontal bothered me on a confessed OCD book.
This didn't have a story so much as it was a series of short vignettes. It wasn't linear, which made it slightly difficult to put into context of where the author was in her marriage at the time of each little story. It was okay. Not good, not bad.
I really, really did not like this book. I thought the author was completely unsympathetic about how her disease affected other people in her life, especially the people she loves the most. I understand that OCD is a dibilitating disease, but we have pills for that. And she didn't want to take them! It sounded like she needed a good therapist and a husband who forced her to go.

All memoirs describe how horrible a person's life is: the beauty is when the author can describe the horrors of life wi
Suzan Poisner
This was a painful and uncomfortable read for me (since I have the benefit of seeing her life in hindsight.) I also found the paragraph-length style didn't work for me...too choppy.
Rebekah Ortiz
Emily Colas is a young lady dealing with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). This book is a series of brief stories of her life before she started taking medication for her mental disability. Her condition becomes progressively serious as time goes on and she finds herself trying to make her husband divorce her. Her OCD starts to dominate her world and she starts to really "lose it". I liked this book because it provide an insight to what it was like to have a mental illness. I also liked it be ...more
Poly Styrene
I loved this book. Just Checking really blew me away. It is a first hand account of a woman's struggle with obsessive compulsive disorder that displays itself in varying degrees (except when it's full blow for several years as an adult) throughout her life. Unlike any other autobiographical work I've read on mental illness, the author adopts a witty at times almost snarky tone. She presents you with some unbelievably horrifying scenarios (at one point her disorder is so bad that she believes tha ...more
Shannon Barber
This book is not for everyone. For those who may not have patience for people with OCD in their lives, reading this particular book won't help. I deeply appreciate that the author did not try to sugarcoat herself or her behavior. There are times reading it you want to shake the author or just shake your head and that for me as a reader makes it more concrete. I might have liked a bit more depth at the end of the book, perhaps some kind of wrap up that was more meaty. All in all,this was a good q ...more
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“Recipe for a Worry

Take one pound morbid preoccupation and mix vigorously with one cup overactive imagination. In a separate bowl, add one part hypersensitivity to three parts increased hormone activity. Fold together and let stew for hours on end.”
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