T.V. shows often imitate real life. It isn’t often that real mental health issues are worked into a storyline. However, Lena Dunham, creator, writer and star of the HBO series GIRLS, made OCD a part of Hannah’s (Lena’s character on the HBO series) story. The revelation that Hannah had been diagnosed with OCD at a young age, in my opinion, was a celebratory moment. Hannah is a character that many fans love, and she has had moments that many of us can relate to. By adding a mental illness to Hannah’s story, it gave a different reality to the illness; a reality that says OCD can affect your co-worker, your child, your best friend.
Lena speaks openly about living with OCD since she was a young child. Take a minute to review what she says in interviews with NBC News, US Magazine and NY Daily:
She also discusses it in her new book Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’e “Learned”. The book has gotten great reviews and is said to be “…Thoughtful, hilarious, and exquisitely-written, Dunham’s memoir is like reading your quirky big sister’s diary.” –Brittany Pirozzolo (Amazon.com)
Information on OCD from The National Institute of Mental Health (link below)
Obsessions: Unwanted thoughts, ideas or images that won’t go away.
Compulsions: Behaviors you feel you must carry out repeatedly, sometimes for hours.
A person with OCD will feel an overwhelming urge to repeat certain rituals (compulsions) to try and control their thoughts.
It is possible for OCD symptoms to show at any age, however most often they begin between the ages of 10 to 12 OR between the ages of 18 to 23; there have been symptoms in children as young as 4 years old.
OCD is believed to be linked to the parts of the brain that control fear and anxiety; stress and environmental factors may play a role also.
Approx. 2.2 million American adults are affected by OCD, and men and women seem to be affected equally.
Frequent thoughts of violence or harming a loved one
(It is my understanding that while they have thoughts or images of harming a loved one, THERE IS NO DESIRE TO CARRYOUT THE ACT! In fact these thoughts and images frighten the individual. They don’t know why they are having these thoughts, when they don’t want to harm anyone, and this usually leads them to a compulsion such as counting or repeating phrases.)
Constantly thinking about performing sex acts the person dislikes OR Constantly having thoughts prohibited by religious beliefs
(Because the thoughts and ideas they are having are things they do not like or go against what they know to be correct they are often distressed and have high levels of anxiety bc they don’t know why they are having the thoughts and images)
Germs and Dirt, Intruders, & Safety
These may seem like normal things to be concerned about, and they are, but the frequency that OCD suffers thing about these things can be disruptive to their daily lives. Not only do they have the thoughts to deal with , but the compulsive behavior that comes along with it. For someone that has an obsession with safety may check, double and triple check the iron is off before they leave for work. Then they lock the door, but unlock it to go back in an check the iron. Get to the car, but the thought that the iron may still be on is in their head-even though they will admit they checked several times they drive away without having checked one more time. There is still a sting chance they will turn back around once on the road, to check the iron again.
Get more information here: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml
Also check out the International OCD Foundation (http://iocdf.org/) for more information, to find out how you can get help, and how you can get involved.