Mental Health Month

Lena Dunham Opens Up About Her Anxiety, And The Importance Of Honesty

"It's just the same as falling down and scraping your knee."

May is Mental Health Month. Throughout the month we will bring you stories about mental health and the importance of breaking surrounding stigmas, as well as highlighting those who live with related conditions and are advocating awareness.

It is almost halfway through May and Child Mind Institute is continuing their quest to break the stigmas surrounding mental health with their My Younger Self campaign

The national non-profit is dedicated to helping families and kids living with mental conditions.

As part of the campaign, Child Mind Institute has teamed up with 31 celebrities and prominent figures. For each day in May, a new video will be released from a different celebrity where they give advice to their young selves about "growing up with a mental health or learning disorder."

So far, celebrities including Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, Michael Phelps, and Carrie Fisher's brother, Todd Fisher, have contributed videos.

In the newest video from May 11, Lena Dunham opens up about growing up with OCD and a generalized anxiety disorder.

As Dunham explains in the video, her anxiety disorder can also lead to dissociative anxiety. Dissociative disorders are those that can alter a person's sense of reality. For example, they can become unsure of their own identities or whether the world around them is real.

Furthermore, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder with "illogical, nervous, uneasy, apprehensive, fearful, or worrisome thoughts; and the compulsion of repeating behaviors intended to reduce the related anxiety." It is a condition that usually manifests itself later in life, between childhood and early adulthood, and can often stem from other conditions. It estimated that OCD affects 2.2 million Americans age 18 or older.

In the video, Dunham begins that she was so thankful to have her parents' support when she was growing up.

"I feel so lucky that my parents were people that were comfortable with therapy, with medication, and with conversations about anxiety," she said.

As for the advice Dunham would give her younger self, she would tell herself to breathe, relax, and to try focusing on things such as reading a book and meditating. 

She adds, "I would tell my younger self that there's no shame in asking a teacher for help, in telling a friend that you're uncomfortable. That it's just the same as falling down and scraping your knee."

She would also want her younger self to understand she isn't going through this by herself.

Dunham elaborates, "[I would want my younger self] to understand that I am not alone. There are so many other kids who are suffering this way, and the greatest thing I can do for them and myself is to be honest."

Dunham has previously spoken out about mental health on a number of occasions. She has said there is no shame in getting help and her latest video for Child Mind Institute highlights this point again.

Given that there are over 17 million kids in the U.S. who have had, or are living with, a mental health disorder, having people speak up to show there is nothing to be ashamed about is so important.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with mental health issues, there are a number of resources available to provide support. Check them out here.

Cover image via Krista Kennell I Shutterstock

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