This week, my first lecture back on my Counselling Masters was about depression. Pretty apt to have a lecture on such a topic for the first day back after a blissful “study week” I know. Despite it being quite an intense and moving morning, I really enjoyed it. As someone who has suffered with depression themselves, I felt like it was really relatable. I had open conversations with other students and it felt good to talk about our experiences with no judgement. I really wanted to get my opinions across and speak up because I felt so passionate about it. It really is great being on a course that makes you feel that way.
Throughout the lecture, we were shown various videos on YouTube about depression and people speaking out about their mental health. The first one really touched me. It’s a group of students at Leeds University speaking out for Time to Talk (Time to Change’s project) about their mental health difficulties whilst at university. I think it’s really important for people to speak about this because we go to university with such high expectations that it’s going to be full of parties, drinking and socialising. If we find ourselves struggling to enjoy these things due to a mental illness, our thoughts can really spiral. We can start asking ourselves “why am I different?” or “what’s wrong with me?” I know this very thing happened to me in my final year of university. By talking about it, it can help students realise that they are not alone. Find the clip here.
Another video we watched involved a YouTuber talking the viewer through what it’s like living with depression and how it affects people’s lives (link here). Although she has declared that she hasn’t/doesn’t suffer with depression herself, the video does hit the nail on the head in a lot of places. There are certain statements that have really stuck with me since watching it:
“You continue to live among other people because that’s what you HAVE to do”
“All satisfaction is gone”
“You are living in slow motion”
“You feel as though you’ll never be happy again”
Because I quite liked what I’d seen, I came home and searched for other videos by the same person. Lo and behold there was and in particular, the one on OCD took my interest. I watched it in slight horror. And then re-watched it. And watched it again. I feel the video is quite discriminatory and stigmatising. I feel that OCD has been portrayed as almost a joke (she is again not an OCD sufferer). Towards the beginning of the video, she does attempt to set the record straight by pointing out to the viewer that OCD isn’t just about obsessively washing our hands or making sure every object we own is lined up neatly. But it just seems to take a turn after this. On the voiceover she laughs as she is delivering her lines. She makes reference to things that I really disagree are in any way related to OCD, like not eating certain food because of the texture being like worms. I see this as just a little quirk, something that everybody might have. Like not being able to eat a peach because of the texture or hating the sound of chalk on a chalkboard (do they still exist?). The music in the background almost sounds like the iconic soundtrack to the 1960’s film ‘Psycho’ too.
Other quotes I found incorrect and well, discriminatory:
“I have to touch specific objects a certain amount of times until it feels just right… that sounded weirdly sexual”
“How do I file a restraining order against this crazy bitch”
“You are stuck with a bunch of new rituals that make you look like you are high on acid”
“Performing some witchcraft”
It made me feel sad and misunderstood after watching it. It really hammers home how much discrimination people with mental health difficulties still face and how there is still such a big misconception around OCD. Overall, I don’t think the video is all bad, I think her heart is in the right place. I appreciate what she’s tried to do with her videos on YouTube which is to raise awareness and try to help people understand what it’s like for others who are struggling. When I looked at the comments on the video, people had said that it had helped them identify aspects of the illness in themselves. If it helps people to become more self-aware of what’s going on inside them then that’s no bad thing. I just think that if perhaps there had been an input from a diagnosed OCD sufferer, it would’ve turned out to be rather different. Like this one.
As someone who faces a constant battle with OCD, writing this blog post was very hard. It set my irrational thinking into turmoil as I argued with my thoughts that I shouldn’t post it because it would make me a bad person. However, I also think it’s important that people are aware of the online resources available and what I think (drawing on my lived experiences) about the accuracy of the info being provided by them.