Mental Health Resources: YouTube Review

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”

“Normal people”

“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.

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8 thoughts on “Mental Health Resources: YouTube Review

  1. I’ve dealt with OCD for the majority of my life. I have it mostly under control these days. I won’t go into describing my issues with it, as I suspect that doing so will mislead others into trivializing what it’s really about. There is so much more to it than certain rituals.

    I touched upon this briefly in one of my blogs, titled, “Choosing Your Battles.”

    https://shrigis.wordpress.com/2016/09/26/choosing-your-battles/

    That blog is about feeling triggered when someone either belittles OCD or doesn’t seem to understand it. In short, it’s dealing with unintended insensitivities.

    One of them was a friend who said, “My boyfriend spent 2 hours cleaning the kitchen. He is so totally OCD.” This comment came with a laugh and a shrug from her. Meanwhile, I’d typically feel upset and want to launch into a tirade about this person’s insensitivities. Let ’em have it, as they say.

    In that personal experience, I did two things. One was to disable any personal triggers associated with an insensitive comment, such as this one. The last thing I want to do is blow up at someone because they may not understand what they’re talking about. I have very, very few friends as it is now, so I don’t want to make that any worse, especially when they didn’t mean any harm by it. Considering the context of the conversation — that this is a friend and not someone who is attacking me — helps me do this.

    I returned a light laugh that hinted my disapproval.

    The other thing I did was to find an appropriate time to discuss it with her, where I explain the difference between being a bit overly-tidy, and suffering something that can be so severe that it keeps me from leaving my own home. Awareness is a great thing, and I hope that I can do my part in some ways, using an approach that is compassionate and educational.

    And not that you would need MY validation, but you’re not a bad person by writing about this. I’d say this blog is a great example of what I’d like to do: generate awareness in a compassionate way.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve seen it actually. I agree with you, she doesn’t have a bad heart, and I respect that she was trying to bring a bit of humour into it, but I think some of it was really misjudged x

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  2. I watched most but not all of the OCD video on youtube by this person and felt much the same as you. At first I thought the laughing might have been nervousness at not speaking in her own language (Polish) but then I went looking for more about her and discovered she’s a film-maker – has a Facebook presence and more, and this is her website. http://www.knapiorkowska.com/ Apropos her depression video – she says on her youtube channel page that she’s basing it on having lived woith people who were bipolar… So it’s simply the usual sort of interpretation of someone who has never experienced it for herself. Unfortunately,I have. I hope you’re right, that she’s making these videos to help people but I worry that she’s just trying to get publicity from our problems. 😦

    Oh and separately, I’m glad you posted this and I do understand the stigma of posting stuff that might make people think badly of us – my current post and the one before last made me feel the same way, though (I’m glad to say) at least one of them (bit early for the other) got good comments from nice people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thankyou so much for your comment. I totally understand your concerns in regards to claiming publicity through making the videos. The thing that made me feel a bit better about this was people’s comments saying that it had alerted them to aspects of the illness in themselves and talking openly about their experiences amongst each other! I’m all for that so at least her videos are reaching out to some people!

      Liked by 1 person

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