Oswego professor’s book promotes self-help

For Maggie Lamond Simone, a journalism professor at Oswego State, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and addiction have been lifelong struggles. By publishing her book, “Body Punishment: OCD, Addiction, and Finding the Courage to Heal,” Simone hopes to offer advice for those who may be fighting some of the same battles.

Simone recalls experiencing numerous obsessive behaviors since her childhood and struggling with them throughout her life. In her book, she discusses the shame and isolation she felt growing up for having such behaviors. Before knowing the cause of her tendencies, Simone writes, “All I knew was this: I was a freak, and I was alone.”

At the age of 52, which Simone considers “embarrassingly late,” the causes of her behaviors were finally uncovered. OCD encompasses a variety of behaviors, including, but not limited to, Simone’s compulsions. Two of her personal behaviors include trichotillomania, the tendency to pull out one’s hair, and excoriation, the tendency to pick at one’s skin. These are the two that plagued her for 50 years as she continued to believe she was the only one who dealt with such compulsions.

Along with her various awards and achievements in writing, Simone has also earned her black belt in karate. Each chapter in her book is attributed to a belt level, beginning with white and ending at black. The progression of the belts symbolizes the progression of her stories and memories from early childhood confusion to adulthood understanding.

She often gets asked why she wanted to write “Body Punishment” because it exposes the secrets she’s kept to herself since childhood. She said she hopes to provide support for others who may suffer from some of the same compulsions.

“I want to empower them on their journey through life – from the innocence of white belt to the enlightenment of black – to fight back,” Simone said.

She said knowledge and talking about one’s symptoms provides validation. These are significant steps toward helping one’s self. Her best advice is just to talk to someone, and once it’s said aloud, the stigma of isolation and shame goes away.
“You own what happens to you,” Simone said. “So share your stories.”

Simone’s stories have already started to positively impact the lives of others. Emily Dickinson, a current student at Oswego State, gives her professor credit for inspiring her to stay positive.

“Professor Simone is a great teacher who really engages her students in what she’s teaching,” Dickinson says, “but hearing her talk about her experiences really helped me connect to her and see her as more than my journalism professor. Struggling with mental illness myself, it made me see that you can overcome it and be something great.”

With her knowledge of her compulsions, Simone said they cause her less stress, although they’re still constant. She said she knows the OCD is a part of her now, “and that’s a really cool thing after all this time.”

“Body Punishment” was released in April 2015, and is available on Amazon.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5