HBO's "Girls": OCD, Anxiety and Hannah's Parents

March 30, 2013 Randye Kaye

"Are you taking your meds, sweetie?" asks Hannah's Dad, juggling the cell phone as he shops in the hardware store.

"Of course I'm taking my meds!"shouts Hannah, as she compulsively counts to 8 in every imaginable way (Hannah has OCD), hides from life under her comforter, and tries to cope with the pain she has inflicted upon herself with a Q-Tip. (Hard to explain. Gotta see the show.)

Of course, Hannah is clearly not taking her meds.

[caption id="attachment_1400" align="alignleft" width="170" caption="Hannah with her "helpful" Parents"]Girls OCD[/caption]

Anyone who knows about mental illness can see that she's in terrible danger - to herself. Her ex-boyfriend seems to be the only one who gets it.

Why, you may ask, aren't her parents rushing to save her? To be by her side, insist she get help, bring chicken soup at least?

I know why. Because I've been there, way too many times. And, like Hannah's parents, I've been left trying to do the right thing, the magic thing, while knowing that what I do may prevent my child from learning things himself.

But what is the right thing to do?

The Family Dilemma -in General, and in Mental Illness

Let go and let life be your child's teacher? Or step in again and whisk her away from her troubles? I've written about this in a previous (and one of my most-read) post, Step In or Let Go? .

But, watching the last few episodes of this season of Girls, which introduced the plot point of Hannah's past mental struggles, I can relate all too well to what Hannah's parents - loving, caring, human folks - might be thinking.

  • If we jump in to save her again, when will she ever learn?
  • Here we go again.
  • My poor baby. Let's go get her and bring her home to us, where she's safe and we can make her accept treatment.
  • When do we get to have an empty nest? Haven't we earned it? This phase of parenting seems endless.
  • Why won't she do what she needs to do?
  • If she hits bottom, maybe she'll get it this time.
  • Why does nothing stick?
  • Can't she see she's better off when she accepts treatment?
  • What did we do wrong as parents?
  • Why is she so anxious?
  • Our neighbors backed off of their child, and he/she is doing great now.
  • How many times are we supposed to bail her out? Will it even help her? Or make it worse?
  • I'm sure if we just let go and trust her, she'll come through this better and stronger.

Hannah clearly needs some help...but where should it come from? What will help her the most? Will her ex-boyfriend be the key? A good therapist and psychiatrist? Her family, come to the rescue again? Hannah's own inner revelations and perhaps the lightbulb moment of acceptance of her illness?

I don't know...and we have to wait until season 3 on HBO to see what creator Lena Dunham has in mind as the answer.

But, in the meantime, for Hannah's parents - I'd say get some support and education, so you can make a better "educated guess" as to what to do.

"Snap out of it!" and wishful thinking aren't working, and any family living with mental illness knows that it's rare to stay "out of the woods" forever. But, in the meantime, don't hide in the closet, guessing, and afraid of the stigma. Hannah needs you - and you need to find support as well.

And, bravo to HBO and Dunham for bringing this to light. Anything that opens the dialogue may leads to more answers - which must begin with the questions.

APA Reference
Kaye, R. (2013, March 30). HBO's "Girls": OCD, Anxiety and Hannah's Parents, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 17 from

Author: Randye Kaye

April, 1 2013 at 7:08 am

Randye Kaye,
I really enjoy reading your blog, do you have contact information such as an email or phone number?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Randye Kaye
April, 1 2013 at 7:30 am

hi Courtney. most contact info is on the website for my book "Ben Behind His Voices". glad you enjoy my healthy place blog!

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