More than music: How composing song helped mother overcome OCD

Posted at 5:22 PM, Oct 17, 2017

We all know the power of music. But for one woman, it moved her through her frightening struggle with mental illness, and now she's using it to help others do the same.

Alluring, yet apprehensive. Those words not only describe the melodies of one piece of music but the life of the woman who wrote it. Loretta Notareschi composed a piece of music for a string quartet to help her get past some of her scariest moments with post partum obsessive-compulsive disorder.

"What OCD really is is a disease about fear," Notareschi explains. "And you have these terrible fears."

A few years ago, Notareschi gave birth to her daughter. "I was in love immediately with Ruby my baby," Notareschi says. "She was wonderful."

But with those feelings of joy came thoughts of another kind.

"The thought that came into my head was, 'What if I were to throw Ruby down the spiral staircase in our home?'" Notareschi remembers.

The frightening thoughts of hurting her daughter kept coming.

"There was a rope in the house I imagined her being strangled," Notareschi says. "I saw a knife I thought she would be stabbed. It was like everything in the house was this terrifying danger and weapon. It's like living in a horror movie."

With those thoughts came compulsions, that go beyond the symptoms many people associate with OCD.

Notareschi said, "So every time, for example I had a scary thought I made myself repeat the phrase, 'You must think I'm made of candy glass.' I felt like if I could say that somehow that it would neutralize the thought."

Notareschi decided to get help, and through medication and therapy, was able to recover after about a year. She then decided to use her love of music to find closure.  Four movements chronicling her route to restoration, and giving light to others still on the path.

"I want people to feel like they are not alone and that it's not their fault," Notareschi says. "And I want them to be able to realize that there is light at the end of the tunnel."

Happy and hopeful. Words that now describe Notareschi's music and life. And the kind of life she hopes her experience inspires in others.