Something a little different for
today. I’ve been a massive fan of the BBC show Casualty for almost a year now, and with one character, Dr Dylan Keogh displaying OCD behaviour in the recent episodes, it has really opened my eyes to this issue. Today I’d like to share my thoughts about the BBC’s portrayal of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Dylan Keogh has a brash detached personality, and my heart really goes out to him. He is so alone and it breaks me. He endures so much and must maintain a solid exterior to reatain his job – the thing that means the most to him. How can he live like that? It is so isolating having to hide who you are. Do you know what it’s like to have OCD? To live with OCD? It must be awful. More than that, it is a form of slavery. Enslaved by impulses. Especially for a scientific man like himself who relishes in logic, this condition is so crippling for him because he knows these obsessions are pointless yet he cannot bring himself away.
I’ve done some of my own research in order to broaden my understanding of this condition. Fighting against anxiety and depression myself, I feel like I can relate to the isolation of mental illness that Dylan is experiencing. Although I don’t personally know anyone suffering from OCD, I did go through a phase of OCD behaviour where I simply had to follow a strict routine when coming home from school, otherwise (I believed) that I would not be able to focus on studying (one of my worst fears). But I don’t really know what it is like for someone struggling with obsessive thoughts on a daily basis. I watched a Horizon documentary, which I would really recommend if you’re interested in this. To put it simply, there’s a structure in the brain called the basal ganglia. When you have a thought about a potential risk, like the fact that there may be dirt on your hands for example, this thought loops through the basal ganglia. So then you wash your hands and the thought is satisfied and so disperses. But when someone has OCD, these thoughts continue to loop around, no matter how many times you take action to satisfy them.
So how do I think the BBC has portrayed OCD in Casualty? Very well I have to say. It is in no way degrading or stereotypical. It has been done very sensitively and realistically, with added credit to William Beck’s extraordinary acting. I hope that this show will raise more awareness for OCD and cause people to become more educated on the subject, in order to take a stand against negative stereotypes of OCD and other mental illnesses. I also hope that this will empower people struggling with OCD and let them know that they are not alone.