Lena Dunham is writer/director/star of the HBO TV series Girls, in which the characters deal with young adulthood in New York City, including behavioral health issues—OCD and addiction are part of the regular storylines. These health-related struggles give the show a level of authenticity that is still rare on TV and that has won it a devoted audience, especially among young women.
Now Dunham appears before us as the author of a memoir, Not That Kind of Girl (Random House, New York, 2014) in which she describes her personal struggles with mental illness. A superstar in entertainment, Dunham adds to her influence on American culture with her new book. In the chapter “Therapy & Me,” she relates the feelings and experiences of working with her first therapist at age nine, and tracks her therapeutic adventures to the present, as the adult Dunham calls her therapist from the road.
In this chapter (which appeared in The New Yorker magazine Sept. 1st, 2014 issue under the title “Difficult Girl”) Dunham writes about working with various mental health professionals, and receiving the diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The feeling of this essay is not one of divulging terrible secrets, but of simply inviting the reader to share this part of Dunham’s life, just as she has shared (in previous chapters) creating her first web series, her passionate love of New York City, and the death and subsequent resurrection of her internet boyfriend. Dunham normalizes seeking treatment for mental illness and behavioral disorders, which can re-assure readers already in therapy, and inspire others to feel less self-conscious about seeking treatment.
Image via Barnes and Noble Review