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Bravo to A & E for giving a real face to those with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  I hope for those who have watched the show, the OCD jokes, the casual knowledge, the trendy-ness of it will cease.  I have heard on more than one occasion the phrase “I am so OCD over [fill in the blank here].”

Clearly, the loss OCD causes is not a joke.  It’s not funny.  Losing your hair, losing your spouse, feeling like you are losing your life– these are all very real, very serious concerns.

Something I learned about trichotillomania:  unlike OCD rituals or compulsions, pulling out hair is a pleasurable thing.  Mandi said she felt hungover, exhausted after pulling sessions.  Again, the strong physical effect is astounding:  just as others have stated they felt exhausted after having anxiety attacks, Mandi feels spent after a hair-pulling session.  Something else she said that I found surprising:  she said she’d never met anyone who’d stopped.  The estimated number of Americans with trichotillomania is 9 million.  Mandi has been doing it since age 9.

Are people starting to get the hint now of how serious, devastating, insane this disorder is?  The estimated number of Americans with OCD is said to be over 3 million.

In her final therapy session, Mandi says she is planning to shave her head; to give her a new start.  The therapist focused a lot on her self worth, her appearance, her awareness.  He said she should stop basing her entire self worth on appearance.  How true is this of a lot of people?  Our culture values beauty and appearance above all else; this is what we have all grown up with.  This is what we know.  We know shiny hair, thin lithe bodies, blindingly white teeth.  How is our self-worth to be determined when our society only values the shallow in humans, the outer layer?  I know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that; however, it’s society that teaches us our values.  Everywhere you look, all you see is shine and sparkle.

Even with Mora’s obsession with her teeth, it’s more of the same.  She doesn’t want to eat certain foods and she cleans her teeth obsessively so that she doesn’t lose her teeth and get dentures.  She says she will be ugly and no one will love her.  This is particularly disturbing to me, as I believe our nation has an unhealthy obsession about teeth as well.  The ads for toothpastes and brushes and washes and countless other related items are endless; I’d like to count them one day just to get an idea of how many are run.  It’s disturbing to me that a person can feel that they are unlovable because they don’t have perfect teeth.  Mora has lost her husband because of this obsession, which must have been devastating to her.  Equally disturbing is the fact that some dentists took advantage of Mora’s obsession and performed unnecessary work.  An egregious and unscrupulous act.

Just watching the show is exhausting, sometimes.  Today’s show stirred up ire in me– the utter destructiveness and devastation OCD causes never ceases to rile me up, to make me tearful and angry.  OCD:  you suck.

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