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How ‘Matilda the Musical’ Inspired Me in My Fight With OCD and Depression

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I recently finished a community theater production of “Matilda the Musical.” Saying “Matilda” is special show to me is an understatement.

I first saw “Matilda” in 2014 on Broadway, when I was deep in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and depression. I had just been diagnosed and was starting treatment. Still, the show was magical. I came in loving the music, having listened to it in my dorm room, and I left loving the show even more. I saw the show again in 2015 on tour in Houston. I was there in residential treatment for OCD. My therapist helped organize that when my mom visited, I could leave for the evening to see the show. Again, I was lost in my head, but I loved the show.

For years, the songs and message stayed with me. I watched every YouTube video of television performances. I learned some of the choreography. I even had someone custom sew a Matilda replica dress for my American Girl Dolls I still collect. In 2019, at the Annual OCD Conference, I met Mara Wilson, the actress who played Matilda in the movie. She has OCD and was the keynote speaker, at my suggestion.

It was a meaningful moment then when in 2020 my local community theater announced “Matilda” for the next season. I cried with joy. And then COVID hit. The season was postponed for who knows how long. I was worried we wouldn’t keep the show on the roster or wouldn’t be able to do it. Finally, in 2022, they held auditions for “Matilda,” and I was cast as the Acrobat and in the ensemble. It was a dream role in a dream show.

Performing this musical is a full circle moment because now I am in recovery. Because of therapy and medication and social support, I am doing so much better now, with both OCD and depression. I am living my life to the fullest, as cheesy as that may sound. I like to think though that the “Matilda” music also had an impact on my recovery. Music is powerful that way.

“Nobody else is gonna put it right for me. Nobody but me is gonna change my story.”

Those are just some of the lines from “Matilda” that inspire me. Now, in recovery, the message of this show hits even harder. There are people and treatments out there that can help me, but at the end of the day, I am responsible for my recovery. I am the one who has to put in the work and keep choosing to fight.

“Matilda the Musical” is a story about standing up for friends, doing the right thing, and most importantly, taking your story into your own hands. It’s also a story about growing up. The kids sing:

“When I grow up, I will be brave enough to fight the creatures that you have to fight beneath the bed each night to be a grown up.”

It comes from a place of innocence, but as adults, we realize we are never truly done fighting these battles. Nevertheless, we keep fighting because it is our story to write.

Original photo by author

Originally published: August 13, 2022
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