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Antía Yañez is a Spanish author who suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Antía Yañez is a Spanish author who suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder | Photo courtesy of Antía Yañez

Award winning novelist speaks out on mental health, writes book about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Anxiety can be one of the worst sensations a person experiences. It can take over one’s life in various ways. I would not wish my suffering on anyone. It manifests physically and mentally. By writing my book, I hope people begin to understand people like me better.

Antía Yañez
Interview Subject
Antía Yañez Burella, born August 9, 1991, in Spain, is a writer and civil engineer. At 31 years old she has been diagnosed with OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) for over a decade. She dedicates her time to writing, teaching, and participating in workshops and literary competitions. In her latest work Don’t Think About a Pink Elephant published by Contraluz Editorial, Antía writes about the sufferings of “Aurora,” a young woman with OCD. Antía studied secondary and high school at IES Perdouro, where she graduated as a Civil Engineer, although she never practiced. Her other published works include O misterio de Portomarín [The Mystery of Portomarín] 2016, Senlleiras [Solitary] 2018, O misterio do torque de Burela [The mystery of Burela’s torque] 2019, and Be water [I know water] 2019.
She has recieved many awards including the XI Micro-stories Contest of the Lonxa Literaria (2013), Os Viadutos Short Stories Award (2014 & 2017), Literary Contest of Poetry and Short Narrative of Cambre (2016), II Illa Nova Narrative Prize (2018), and III Agustín Fernández Paz Prize for children’s and youth narrative by Equality, for Rescue Plan (2019).
Background Information
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by a pattern of unwanted thoughts and fears (obsessions) that cause repetitive behaviors (compulsions). These obsessions and compulsions interfere with daily activities and cause great emotional suffering.

Nearly 1,175,000 people in Spain suffer from this type of disorder, and only in the last year consultations have increased by up to 30 percent according to Psychology Councils and private consultations. The Pandemic exacerbated the issue for many people. It is estimated that obsessive-compulsive disorder affects 3 percent of the world population, more than 100 million people, and is the fourth most common psychological disorder, ahead of anorexia nervosa, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

BURELA, Spain ꟷ Like the protagonist in my book, I have suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder for more than 10 years. When I received my OCD diagnosis, I lacked the necessary tools to explain my experiences to people. Without the right words, I often explained my disorder in half measures. The process felt annoying and uncomfortable.

I spent years sitting in the rooms of therapy and expressing what I could. Today, I have learned to express myself in another way. My goal writing the book started from a premise of entertaining the reader while explaining OCD and mania.

Breaking down barriers and destroying misconceptions about mental health

Since mental health has traditionally been a taboo subject, talking about it openly becomes increasingly important today. Too often in entertainment media, literature, and other forms of information consumption, people with mental health issues are represented in one of two ways.

We look at it as “fun” and relate with laughter or comedy, or we go down the path of dark novels portraying psychopathy, often related to horrendous acts like murder. Fortunately, we see a change taking place in the world now.

Read more Orato stories from individuals from around the globe living with disabilities.

As this change takes place, we must talk about mental health. Some people misperceive it and not everyone has first-hand testimony to raise awareness. We must make our experiences known so that others realize suffering from depression or being diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is no worse than breaking a leg or having diabetes. Yet, the same fears and prejudices do not exist toward someone with diabetes as they do for someone with OCD.

Writing my book, I had the opportunity to see myself in it. That proved to be a fun and interesting experience. As a person who suffers from OCD, I imagined situations the disorder can produce – like cleaning or going to a public bathroom.

At times, those moments become horrible and overwhelming, like a nightmare. Your anxiety rises and your heartbeat increases, then a numbness takes over your entire body. Having lived through moments like this, I focused on conveying the real emotions to the reader.

Detailing the lived experience of anxiety

Anxiety can be one of the worst sensations a person experiences. It can take over one’s life in various ways. I would not wish my suffering on anyone. It manifests physically and mentally. By writing my book, I hope people begin to understand people like me better.

I approached the main character of the book using my own story. Giving her a voice felt easy because I characterized her after myself. I love making jokes and having a good time and so does she. During difficult moments in my life, I use humor to get through. This allowed me to realize over the years, everything is relative, even my suffering.

I thought talking about the lived experience of anxiety would be extremely difficult for me, and even more difficult for the reader to understand. How could they comprehend the level of discomfort and restlessness people with anxiety suffer?

Antía Yañez is a multi-award-winning author who speaks out on mental health and anxiety | Photo courtesy of Antía Yañez

To my surprise, I have received incredibly positive feedback. Readers say they can relate, or they finally understand just how bad we suffer. They understand how different scenarios and situations affect our nerves.

While I thought the narrative would create identification among a few people, I realize everyone has felt this way at times. Readers say while they could empathize, the book overwhelmed them with such exceptional descriptions of the human experience. For me, that response feels like a luxury!

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Mariano Junco serves as a communicator and content manager. he began experimenting in 2004 at the age of 17. Between 2007 and today, he developed a national and international career in sports while training in journalism, communications, and politics. He currently works in digital, audiovisual, and graphic media. He is passionate about the world of amateur sports and the institutions that comprise it.