Hi there! Shira here! Today we’re going to hear from Mara Wilson.
You might know Mara from her work as a young actress. She played Matilda in the movie Matilda, which was hands-down my favorite movie as a little kid. For my 9th birthday my dad brought a projector home from work so my friends and I could watch Matilda on the wall in my living room. My favorite part was the montage after Miss Honey adopts Matilda. When I watched it with my parents, I always made them rewind that bit so I could watch it over and over.
What you might not know about Mara is that she is a fierce writer and advocate, and someone I deeply admire. I was thrilled when she agreed to answer some questions for the first official Faces of OCD profile. I asked her some questions about herself, what she values, and her experience with OCD. Here is what she had to say:
What are your values and your passions?
That's a good question. I would say I greatly value justice, humility, being of use to others, wonder, and sincerity. As for my passions, I'm a pretty passionate person in general! There's not much I'm not passionate about.
What and whom do you love?
My family, friends, and pets, for starters! As for what, I love learning, stories, making things, helping others, theater in all its forms, babies, tea, and cats. Dogs, too!
Kira, Mara's parents' puppy
Theo and Milo, Mara's cats
What obstacles have you had to overcome with OCD?
I think the hardest part of having OCD was how isolating it is. I was always an extrovert, and I feared that no one would really like me if they knew about my compulsions or what went on inside my mind. I still feel like that sometimes! It also made me feel like a stranger in my own mind, afraid of what might happen there when I least expected it. So I had the worst of both worlds: I felt isolated from others, and from myself.
In what ways have you rebelled against your anxiety in the name of living the life you want to live?
I think one of the best things I've done is accepted my anxiety, or at least, accepted myself as an anxious person. I think there's a difference between fighting against it and facing it, and I'm trying to do the latter. I also try to remind myself that being an anxious person doesn't mean you aren't a strong person. Some of the strongest people I know also have anxiety.
Mara’s story is a prime example of someone living with a mental illness without letting it define them. She was last year’s keynote speaker at the 26th Annual OCD Conference in my hometown of Austin. Even then, part of what moved me about her speech was how much I related to it. It was powerful to hear someone of her stature recount experiences so similar to my own. And not only did she talk about OCD, but she spoke to her life beyond her disorder.
And that’s what I want #FacesOfOCD to be about. We are not alone in our struggles, and we can take comfort in knowing that others have been where we are. But we are also not defined by our struggles. We are not obsessions, we are not compulsions, we are not intrusive thoughts or body dysmorphia or checking rituals. What defines us is how we live our lives despite our struggles. What are your values and passions? What and whom do you love? In what ways do you plan on facing your anxiety in the name of living a life of value? Those are the questions I have for you this week. And if you’d like, I encourage you to submit your answers for the Faces of OCD blog series.
Until next time. Be safe and healthy. Take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally.