Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Girls' Portrayal of OCD

This week's episode of Girls, titled It's Back, took a slightly more serious direction with one its story lines - Hannah's returning OCD. Having had problems with OCD in the past (and still the occasional flare-up, though thankfully nowhere near as bad as it once was), I'm always interested to see it portrayed in the media. Unfortunately, accurate and respectful portrayals seem to be few and far between.
It seemed to come a little bit out of the blue - I don't remember Hannah's OCD being mentioned in the show before - but I recognised straight what was going on. Lena Dunham also spoke of her own experiences with OCD in an interview last month, so I'd hope a lot of regular viewers might have caught on quickly too.

Despite this, I was impressed with how Dunham portrayed Hannah's whole experience - from trying to deny that it's happening to feeling offended when you feel like someone is trying to minimise the distress it's causing you.

It's that distress that, I feel, gets left out a lot in media portrayals of OCD. I've spoken to so many people who didn't realise it was about more than a preference for being clean and tidy, having a dislike for germs. People who were genuinely surprised to hear that many people with OCD don't feel compelled to wash their hands repeatedly (this does seem to be the go-to compulsion for most TV shows). And very few people seem to realise just how upsetting it can be, what can be going on inside your head alongside these compulsions.

Hannah may not have went into detail about the thoughts in her head, but I do thin Dunham was able to get across the message that OCD isn't fun. At all. She was clearly unhappy and the conversation between her and the doctor hit so close to home for me, I definitely consider it a season highlight.

With this and My Mad Fat Diary recently being aired, I hope this isn't the last we see of mental illness being realistically shown on our screens.

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