My Turn: iPhone as OCD treatment

You would have to be in solitary confinement to have not seen that TV commercial for the iPhone that tells you that “if you don’t have an iPhone” you can’t download music, you can’t pay for your coffee, can’t easily purchase an airline ticket....

Or, as my daughter Kate called to tell me, you can’t overcome OCD.

Kate was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder some years ago. Medication tempers the symptoms but does not entirely remove the underlying anxiety. Even under the cloud of Zoloft, her brain still spins — especially, for her, when it comes to making sure the door is in fact locked and the coffee maker actually turned off.

She cannot sleep at night without checking doors and windows a dozen times. She finds it hard to leave the house for fear the toaster isn’t unplugged. When she uses the remote to set her car alarm, it sounds like the Roadrunner taunting Wile E. Coyote: Beep-beep! Beep-beep! Beep-beep! Beep-beep!


Recently, she heard about a friend whose wife suffers from the same never-ending nightmare and whose smart solution is to toss the hair dryer and the iron into the back seat of her car so that through the day she can look at them and see that all is well. Kate thought this strategy rather brilliant, but she would need to carry around not only her toaster and iron but also her sizable espresso machine, built-in oven, four-slice toaster and the front door.

The other day, the answer came to her: her iPhone. “Mom, I take a picture of the door lock in the lock position. I snap a photo of the toaster with its cord dangling over the counter. Add a shot of the blow-dryer lying in the middle of the bed, the stove knobs in the off position, and I am good to go!”

Most iPhone owners have one so they can access all the foo-foo features and elevate their self-esteem and feel oh so trendy doing so. But what does that really get them aside from faster-paced and uber-connected lifestyles? Kate uncovered a use for tricked-out technology that measurably improves her everyday existence. Her self-confidence has soared as she contemplates going off Zoloft so that she can become pregnant without it coursing through her bloodstream.

“Do you keep checking the pictures?” I ask, as I imagine my grandchild wailing in his crib while his mother flicks through an album of images of household appliances on her phone. “That’s the best part,” she says. “Because I know I have the photos, I never have to look at them.”


I won’t tell her to make sure and check that her phone is in her purse.

Miller, who lives in Huson, Mont., is the author of more than 300 essays and stories. Submissions to My Turn should be 500 words or fewer, are subject to editing and become property of The Times. Email Read more at