Lena Dunham has shared her personal struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder publicly before (including a recent New Yorker essay entitled “Difficult Girl: Growing Up, With Help”). On her HBO show Girls, she gives a sensitive and realistic portrayal of what it’s like for a young person dealing with OCD through her character, Hannah Horvath. Now in a video series called “Ask Lena” Dunham continues to speak out. In our favorite video a young woman with OCD, who admits to self-medicating and a dislike of doctors, writes in to ask Dunham’s advice. In her response Dunham speaks like an advocate who really knows what it’s like:
There’s so much stigma around mental illness in our society, and you probably feel like you’re supposed to muscle through this or tough it out. But if you had diabetes, you wouldn’t say, “I don’t think I should be allowed to have insulin.” In order to tame the beast enough that you can analyze it, you need to go and talk to someone who can help you in that department. And you need to be talking to a therapist because it sounds like it’s really affecting you on a day-to-day basis, and that there’s something within you that feels like you don’t deserve help, and you do.
Dunham is using the videos to promote her first book, Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned.” No quibble with that: It’s a pragmatic and powerful message from Dunham, who reminds us that we all deserve help and shouldn’t feel bad about asking for it.