Saturday, 17 December 2011

Mental health and the media

The topic of the media and its impact on mental health sufferers has been in the forefront of my mind for some time now and I thought it would follow on nicely from my previous post about OCD and hypochondria.

I have always been sensitive to the world around me and, in my own quiet way, extremely observant of the happenings and goings on that occur, even if outwardly I do not react much to them. I know that others in my family are similar to that too and I have no doubt inherited the specific gene that makes me very introspective and thoughtful.

I saw this as a personality trait that I quite enjoyed. I would spend hours alone with my thoughts mulling over ideas and opinions, and pretty much keep myself company. This is not something that I see as a negative, even now, after a few months of torturous and intrusive thoughts.

But... a sufferer of OCD and hypochondria those thoughts that were once so enjoyed have taken on a life of their own that I now find hard, at one point almost impossible, to escape from when I need to find respite in human company and interaction.

The obsessive side of the OCD condition makes the most trivial of things begin to carry significance and if left untreated, or acknowledged, can develop into the biggest of emotional hurdles.

My particular obsession was/is to do with cancer and my compulsions were/are to act to prevent it from happening to myself and those close to me.

Those of you who suffer from OCD know of your own particular obsessions and how truly awful it can be when it is all that you can think of, when you can find no means of escaping those haunting thoughts that torment you and allow you no safe haven in which to hide.

For months, or even years, the U.K. has had mass health campaigns to raise cancer awareness focussing on television, newspaper and radio advertising, posters and billboards, cigarette packets, direct marketing and many other outlets. Many of them are hard hitting and use emotional means to place emphasis on the message including the use of graphic images (particularly on cigarette packets).

Many people have lost somebody close to them or have been affected by the illness directly or indirectly, myself included, and do not wish to have those difficult memories thrust upon them when emotional healing is so difficult to achieve.

I know that I do not and believe that many others, whether OCD sufferers or not, do not wish for it either.

When the advertised facts, and distortions of the facts, are forced upon a person who is particularly sensitive to these things and who has an introspective character, then they can and will become negative, life-changing obsessions.

I have lost almost an entire year of my life in utter, life-destroying terror because of it.

My point is this: Why are media outlets not being monitored with this kind of thing in mind? Surely it should be a consideration just as nudity or profanity is before the watershed?

One slogan used during the campaign which became my tipping point was quite simply this:

Is it just a cough?

By playing upon that doubt and fear of the unknown, knowing full well that 99 per cent of the population are not doctors and unqualified to answer the question, is just irresponsible to the very extreme. Whether you suffer from OCD or not, it is a terrible thing to make people ponder and question, and subsequently worry about.

I know that awareness needs to be raised but it must be done with some sympathy to those who have loved and lost, and to those who do not want to be confronted with despicable, detailed images.

I say all this because as far as OCD is concerned, we are all prone to obsessions of a varying nature and it occurred to me that advertising also targets germ killing products.

I do not suffer with contamination fears of that kind but I know that many of you do and advertising of those kind of products always uses the 'kills 99.99% of germs' - Is the 0.01% germ allowance a marketing ploy to make us worry and use the cleaning product more than we generally would?

Are those OCD sufferers who have obsessions regarding driving having their anxieties increased by road safety campaigns? The U.K. ones say 'look, look and look again' before the advert shows the motorbike hitting the side of the car in slow-motion detail.

I honestly don't know why media watchdogs allow some of these things through but I sincerely hope that the control is tightened as soon as possible so as to not allow another sensitive person or OCD sufferer to have their world utterly blown apart by those thoughts and fears that they should not have to face in the privacy of their own homes.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

A short blog post

I thought I would write a short blog entry as I haven't had the time recently to write a full update on my OCD experiences.

Since my last post on the 28th of November things have been relatively smooth, minus the odd pebble on the tarmac here and there, where I have had to focus my efforts a little harder to overcome the OCD obstacles. Perhaps it is to do with Christmas and the thoughts and preparations associated with its rapid progression towards us.

Yesterday was probably the worst it has been these last two weeks but today I feel a little more in control again and less agitated or 'on edge' as I call it.

It's the intrusive thoughts that are the hardest to dismiss and move past.

It's as though once the thought appears, and it's always out of nowhere to seemingly catch me off guard, it leaves behind a sticky residue of its imprint on my mind that takes some time and effort to move beyond. After some concerted rational thinking followed by a good night's sleep, my mind felt refreshed again when I awoke and has managed to prevent my thought processes from following that downward spiral of repetition to anxiety.

I will make some time in the coming days to read and respond to those posts that you, my followers, or others, may have written, and to write a more complete entry.

I hope that this post finds you well and that these early December days are offering you all plenty of cheer and high spirits.