I’ve been catching up with “Girls” on HBO GO this week and it’s made me so glad I’m not in my 20s anymore. Like the characters, I moved to New York in my early 20s, but unlike them, I was already on my career path, and I’d really like to think I wasn’t as irritatingly self-absorbed and needy as they are.
But I do remember what it felt like to be expected to act like an adult when I still felt so much like a kid (now I know that never changes), what it felt like to be crushed by a boy not feeling the same affection I did (or, at least not for me), and to be crippled with low self-esteem.
*SPOILER ALERT* Toward the end of the second season, Hannah’s debilitating OCD returns for the first time since high school. It’s the first we learn of her battle with the disorder. It’s brought on by the stress of meeting a deadline for an eBook that may also finally mean she’s recognized as a real writer. As she has to count everything in multiples of eight, it’s a brutally harrowing, painful depiction of the wiring in her brain short circuiting to the point she can’t function. It turns out that “Girls” creator Lena Dunham, who plays Hannah, based the episodes on her own bouts of OCD and anxiety when she was growing up. Several of the scenes, including one with a Q-tip, are heartbreaking in her relentless anguish.
According to the experts, we all have OCD to some degree. I know I do. Mine, oddly, manifests itself primarily in that I always think I’ve left my curling iron on. I often leave my house, only to have to go back to make sure that I unplugged it. Even last week when I was visiting my sister, I texted to ask her to check the upstairs bathroom, in case I’d left the curling iron plugged it (I hadn’t). I’d say 10% of the time, I have forgotten to unplug it, which only makes my fear a little more intense. (Apparently, you can buy a curling iron that turns itself off. I have to check that out.)
I know people whose OCD has lead to the end of their marriages, their spouses unable to deal with the endless obsessive thoughts with no basis in fact or the unrelenting need to have the fringe on the carpet all straightened perfectly (and unable to leave the house until that’s accomplished). It’s a cruel disease that takes someone hostage and tortures them and it’s agonizing to try to hold in a thought that is screaming in your brain, demanding to be heard.
Today’s $10 goes to the International OCD Foundation. According to its website, the non-profit was funded by a group of people with OCD in 1986. Its goals are to educate the public about OCD, support research in its causes and treatments, and advocate for the OCD community.
July 31: International OCD Foundation http://www.ocfoundation.org/