I like to consider myself very open about having OCD and open about talking about mental health in general. I blog about it so anyone who searches my name can find it on the Internet. I talk about it frankly with my close friends. I even will bring it up if someone makes a comment about being “sooo OCD” and will try to educate them about what the disorder really is.
Because of this, I also like to think I’ve gotten pretty good at talking about OCD and mental health. Still, there are times when the practiced words leave my head and I’m left not knowing what to say. There are times when sometimes I could use a little help.
That’s where media has come in as an incredibly important aspect of these conversations. There are books, movies, videos, and more that I can turn to and say, “Hey, listen to someone else explain this!”
For example, I recently read the book Turtles all the Way Down, by John Green. It’s about a girl with OCD also trying to solve a mystery. I found it to be a very accurate portrayal of OCD, likely due to the fact that John Green has OCD himself, and I quickly recommended it to friends.
More importantly, I recommended it to my mom. My mom read Turtles all the Way Down and said it was extremely helpful for her understanding of what it is like for me to have OCD. We had talked about my OCD plenty of times, but having this book to pass on to her deepened her understanding exponentially. She even went on to say in a book review, “John Green’s description of OCD spirals is a must read for every parent who suspects or has a child diagnosed with OCD. It gives imagery to a very challenging disorder.” I’m beyond grateful for the conversations this book sparked and the further comprehension it lent.
Similarly, I recently held a film screening through my school’s Active Minds chapter (a mental health advocacy group on college campuses) of a short film called Unstuck: An OCD Kids Movie. I had seen the film at the International OCD Foundation’s Annual Conference and immediately wanted to share it with everyone and anyone I knew. It’s about childhood OCD and focuses on children with OCD as experts on the disorder. They openly share their stories of struggling but also bravely confronting their fears, and it’s incredibly inspiring. More than that, it’s educational for people who don’t know much about OCD.
I especially wanted to share it with the mental health advocacy community at my school. So, I booked a room, put together some discussion questions, and put on the event with crossed fingers. Fortunately, the attendees were receptive to the film. Those who didn’t have OCD said they learned a great deal, and those with OCD found it comfortingly relatable. We had a thoughtful discussion about what OCD is, who can get OCD (people of any age or background!), and misuse of the term “OCD.”
All these connections would not have been possible without the existence of this media that is openly and accurately discussing mental health, so I’m grateful for that media. I think it’s extraordinarily important that we continue to generate this open and accurate media, so we can foster even more connections between family members, friends, and even strangers.
So, whatever it is you do to generate media about mental health, keep at it. For me, let’s keep writing!
For more information about Unstuck: An OCD Kids Movie visit https://www.ocdkidsmovie.com/
Thank you for sharing and speaking out! Another good read is a recently published young adult memoir titled “Obsessed: My Life with OCD” by Allison Britz. It describes her experience with sudden-onset OCD as a high school sophomore.
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I will look into it!