Tag Archives: anxiety

Is Reality TV Crossing the Line?

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When I was taking psychology 101 in university  I used to joke that they should use me as a guest subject. Perhaps it’s my experience with a variety of disorders that draws me to one of my guilty pleasures: TLC reality TV. I “enjoy” watching shows like Extreme Cheapskates, Extreme Couponing, My Strange Addiction, My Crazy Obsession and Hoarding: Buried Alive.

When I watch these shows I switch back and forth between being sympathetic and hopeful to being disgusted and sad. I understand why these shows gather a following- if they have enough shock value to surprise me, I can’t imagine what someone who doesn’t understand anxiety disorders or mental illness is thinking. From a business perspective these shows are gold. They don’t cost a lot of produce and they gain a following easily. But, this got me thinking about the moral side of it. Half of me thinks these shows are good for mental illness, while the other half thinks they are hitting the ethical rock bottom.

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Compassionate or Enabler?

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Sometimes I put TLC on in the background when I’m working. Usually the screen is filled with bridal gowns and gypsy sisters, but occasionally I find myself enraged with My 600 Pound Life. It’s not the size of these people that really gets to me- it’s their family. Many of the people on this show are either bedridden or of limited mobility. Many of them, probably most of them, rely on someone else to get them food. So why, WHY do they bring them food? I realize that someone who is suffering from an addiction or mental illness can be persuasive, but the negative consequences of their actions are staring them in the face!

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When OCD Takes Over

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I grew up around OCD. My father had it quite bad, although my mother always assured me that it was better than it had been before I was born. We were never on time for anything and change was the enemy. At the age of 10 I noticed my first symptoms; I started having to touch things repeatedly and worried that if I didn’t bad things would happen. I also started to hoard things because I couldn’t bear to let them go. I recognized the problem quickly and vowed to “fix” myself. Within a couple of years the compulsions were gone. I had worked really hard and caught it early, so I thought I was cured. What I didn’t realize was that all the small things my dad had ingrained into my impressionable brain were going to be harder to brush off.

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Throat Unknown

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3 years ago this fall my health changed dramatically. I was sitting on the floor of my apartment working on a scrapbook and eating peanuts when I started to feel dizzy. I lay down on my bed and waited for Jay to arrive home. Within an hour my throat felt like it was closing up and we were walking to the hospital (which was a few blocks away). That evening I didn’t actually enter the hospital, but it marked the beginning of a 2 1/2 year battle with my body.

All sorts of thoughts were running through my head, but ALLERGY was lit up in bright lights and blinking on my forehead. I’m allergic to many things, but as far as I know I’ve only ever been allergic to one food: chocolate. My dad has some mild food allergies (including peanuts) but they started much later in life. Could I possibly be allergic to peanuts? My father also suffers from urticaria where his lips and face swell. Perhaps I had that? The thoughts alone began to drive me crazy.

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