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In Their Words: Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham, the creator of Girls, talks about growing up with OCD — and learning to cope through meditation.

Lena Dunham on Meditating
Lena Dunham on Meditating

Sitting with my mother in the beauty salon one afternoon, I came across an article about obsessive compulsive disorder. A woman described her life, so burdened with obsessions that she had to lick art in museums and crawl on the sidewalk. Her symptoms weren’t much worse than mine.

When I was around nine, I was diagnosed with OCD. I was afraid of everything. The list of things that kept me up at night included appendicitis, typhoid, leprosy, unclean meat, and foods my mother hadn’t tasted first, so that, if we die, we die together. I went through a hypochondriacal phase: AIDS, jaundice — you name it, I had it. Then I started counting. I was obsessed by the number eight.

I will forever feel grateful that, instead of assaulting me with a barrage of medications, my mother decided I should learn to meditate. Meditation made it possible for me to process what I was going through. My OCD isn’t gone, and maybe it never will be. Maybe it’s part of who I am. And, for now, that seems OK.

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