The Vicious Cycle of Pure O (Purely Obsessional OCD) Revisited - OC87 Recovery Diaries

The Vicious Cycle of Pure O (Purely Obsessional OCD) Revisited


According to Pinar Tarhan, a writer who lives in Istanbul, Turkey, “The way media portrays mental illness is that you have to have suffered some big tragedy some big loss or you have to have fought in a war to be able to earn the right to have PTSD, or you should have really awful parents, right?”

Pinar’s journey doesn’t fit any of these stereotypes. Nonetheless, her suffering was real.

“I started having these thoughts in my head and images that were really disturbing, and I couldn’t make sense of them because it just came suddenly and violently and intensely—and I had no idea what to do with myself.”

Pinar was suffering from the effects of living with obsessive compulsive disorder and bipolar disorder. Her symptoms came on suddenly and surprisingly, in her early college years, and a diagnosis followed at age 19.

Pinar lives with what she identifies as Pure O, Harm OCD—a type of OCD in which a sufferer engages in hidden compulsions. Instead of combating their intrusive thoughts with visible rituals such as hand-washing or counting, they perform repetitive, mental rituals to minimize stress.

Pinar details her journey with safety related compulsions in a terrific essay she penned for our site titled, “The Trauma of Not Being Traumatized Enough: My Life with Pure OCD.”

This month, Recovery Diaries is pleased to revisit a video that we made with Pinar, one of five international guests at the Write on the Ocean Women Writers’ Retreat that Recovery Diaries hosted in Cape May, NJ in 2019.

Pinar is one of the “fabulous five” international writers featured in this special series, titled Writers Talk. Other writers in the series include Liza Brock (Australia), Claire Eastham (England), Florence Mukangenzi (Rwanda), Pinar Tarhan (Turkey), and Sanjukta Chauhan (India).

In both her essay and her video, Pinar speaks frankly about the impact that OCD has had on her life and the feelings of isolation that she experienced when she first faced symptoms. Her story—like all of the storytellers in our Writers Talk series—shatters myths and stereotypes about mental illness and replaces misunderstanding with human understanding.


EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Gabriel Nathan | EDITOR: Glenn Holsten | DESIGN: Leah Alexandra Goldstein | SITE ORIGINATOR: Bud Clayman

See Related Recovery Stories: Anxiety, Mental Health Short Films, OCD

Glenn is an award-winning director who loves to create compelling documentary story experiences of all lengths for screens of all sizes. He is an avid reader, studied literature in college, and his passion for stories with strong characters and interesting narratives stems from those years. His career as a visual storyteller began at WHYY (the public television station in Philadelphia) where he worked for 15 years before becoming an independent filmmaker. In addition to his PBS documentaries about arts and culture, he has directed films about justice and human rights, and now, mental health. He was emboldened to undertake his current documentary project, Hollywood Beauty Salon, a colorful feature-length documentary about surviving mental illness and finding the courage for recovery, after his transformative experience directing OC87: The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger’s Movie, along with Bud Clayman and Scott Johnston.