By Deb Silverthorn
“I’m so OCD.” Fact or fad? Asher Feltman, debut author, really does have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). He makes the case that it’s not a phrase, not a fad, but what can be a debilitating mental illness. That’s what his book “I’m So OCD” is all about.
Feltman has made it his life’s goal to help families navigate the OCD landscape “If it’s ignored, if it isn’t attended to, it’s so easy to get lost. But that really doesn’t have to happen,” he says.
The author is a Plano native and a graduate of Plano West Senior High School. He is the son of Dr. Arlene Jacobs and Allen Feltman and brother of Alec (Lydia) and Dr. Adrienne (Adam Chernoff) Feltman. His road to success, to finding his success and making a difference for others, has been circuitous.
For 12 years, Feltman’s life, he said, was what he called “normal.” But in 2006, when he was a rising teenager, everything changed. Feltman and his family struggled until he was ultimately diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
His bar mitzvah, sporting events, BBYO experience youth groups, high school graduation and first attempt at college were all affected by what he couldn’t help, control, change or figure out.
Traversing seven hospitals in four cities over the next nine years, Feltman found his way. Now he’s hoping to help others and their loved ones find theirs.
“Mine was what one doctor called ‘one of the most severe cases of mental illness’ he’d ever seen,” he said. “I hate to be corny but there is a light at the end of the tunnel and, no matter how dark the tunnel is, anyone can make a comeback.”
Five years after graduating high school, Feltman — who had worked for the Frisco Rough Riders, the Dallas Mavericks and the Texas Rangers — made his way to the University of North Texas to study journalism.
One day he found himself at a coffee shop, mapping out a timeline for his story — what the last decade had been to and for his life. Over a year he added more and more of his story but then the pandemic shut the world down. He sent his writing to his parents and his doctors; their feedback was positive, including notes of incidents he hadn’t remembered.
“Like most good things in life my folks were behind me — my Mom pushing me to write to begin with and my Dad pushing me to include how we came through it all. I hope the book informs, educates and even entertains those reading it,” said Feltman. He hopes in the future to write a children’s book or books, about mental health.
No one in his family gave up. They were all there for each other.
“There are so many ‘should’ve, could’ve, would’ve’ moments and lessons in all this. They all come under wishing there was an understanding of the disease, wishing we were versed in all of it, any of it,” said his father. “It’s not a broken arm you can cast and do rehab over. The waiting, and wading, through the pain, research, diagnosis and treatment is excruciating because you love your person and you can’t do much of anything. And while ‘nothing’ is happening, patience doesn’t come first. I wish I had been more patient. I just wanted him to be OK right away.
“We’ve heard from many how this book ‘sounds like my family member, boss, friend – whoever it is,” Allen Feltman added. “If it helps anyone realize and help themselves, or someone they care about, that’s key. He’s teaching people how to verbalize what the ‘it’ is that they just have no words for. He’s going to make a difference.”
Both parents shared how proud they are of Feltman and of how he, through great courage, is making a great life for himself and others he touches.
“Asher is smart, loyal and he has a heart of gold — that’s been true all of his life,” said his mother. “We’ve obviously lived this with him but the first time I read the book, I cried. Every time I’ve read the book, I’ve cried but it’s a cry of relief, of absolute pride.
“Writing was therapy for Asher. Through everything he had hope. He never gave up. He lost so much of his youth but on the other side of it all, there is his being here for others, making the road less scary. For a family in the midst, that is everything,” she added.
While at UNT, Feltman worked for the Texas Legends and realized that while he loved sports and he loved writing, he also loved spending time with children. The understanding brought him to a career as a teacher and coach and he’s never looked back. He now teaches eighth grade social studies and coaches club and school baseball and basketball.
“I absolutely love what I do and I’m grateful I have the tools to move forward,” said Feltman. “My story isn’t ‘how bad it was’ but a look at how I managed and how I’ve turned out. The days aren’t all the best days but I am able and capable.”
Feltman reiterates, “I’m so OCD. This is the story of my battle with the disease and how I managed to come out of it with a life worth living.”
“I’m So OCD” is available at tinyurl.com/Im-So-OCD-Asher-Feltman.