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'Can you check there's nothing in that cup, that I haven't put bleach into it?

" says Bryony Gordon, holding up the empty cup she's about to pour her three-year-old daughters milk into for me to check.

The one-night stand who produced a lump of butter as a suggested lubricant (she faked lactose intolerance).

Having cocaine snorted off her bare breasts by a man she had just met.

The affair with a married man, picking up a date in the waiting room of an STD clinic, a several-times-a-week coke habit, it was no holds barred by anybody's standards. What she didn't mention was that since she was 12, Bryony has suffered from OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder, in which a person suffers from unwanted obsessive thoughts and fears, and compulsive behaviour and rituals.

For Gordon, it started with the fear of contracting AIDS, and rendered her mental health so fragile that she has suffered five breakdowns in the past 20 years.

She has brought the iron into work in her handbag, to be sure she hasn't left it on at home, checked with friends when she returns from the pub bathroom to see how long she's been, in case she has been raped and blanked it out.

Five months pregnant on holiday in the Bahamas with her now husband Harry, she became convinced that the baby wasn't his, texting friends to check she hadn't had a drunken one night stand she had forgotten.

That first episode, when she was 12, lasted just a couple of months, from the outside, she reflects, it could have seemed like a bout of moodiness, typical pre-teen stuff. "And then I don't think I had it at all until I was 17. So like, the bloke I sit next to at work notices me just muttering." This is the daily recitations chanted in order to ward off harm to loved ones."When I'm putting Edie to bed, I have to say cot life, cot living, because I can't say the other thing.

"This time her mum, the journalist Jane Gordon, brought her to the GP. But those to me are such minor points of OCD because they are like a Dido album, a broken record in my head.

"The really disturbing things to me are when I worry that I've done something awful to my child and blanked it out." The OCD rendered her vulnerable and she suffered stress-related alopecia for most of her twenties.

For a time it left her looking like Donald Trump, she says, throwing forward her hair to show me the one remaining patch, a small, smooth spot at the nape of her neck.

Gordon, in fact, now 35, is stunningly attractive, with a thick head of hair - pregnancy remedied the alopecia, she says - and glowing, healthy skin.