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Covid-19 has affected my OCD

Wednesday, 24 June 2020 Hannah

Warning: This blog describes OCD characteristics

Hannah blogs about how the pandemic has escalated her obsessive compulsive disorder.

Welcome to the new roaring 20s, the decade where I imagined I would be out at festivals, around friends, meeting up for family gatherings and in all making memories. The start of this decade for me has been roaring all right, and has given me my memories, but not quite in the way, I’d hoped.

The misconception about obsessive compulsive disorder can sometimes leave me feeling preposterous and as if I’m overreacting. My obsessive compulsive disorder started off when I was a child — little things that nobody really picked up on and brushed away as just childhood habits.

Unfortunately, the pandemic couldn’t have escalated my OCD more. My day-to-day life feels swallowed by my OCD. 

Unfortunately, the pandemic couldn’t have escalated my OCD more. My day-to-day life feels swallowed by my OCD. I am washing my hands excessively, cleaning my teeth excessively to the point where I am causing myself harm .

I can’t even touch my bed until I have bleached every surface in my room, then washed my hands many times.

We all know what we’re meant to do in this global pandemic — wash your hands, stay indoors, wear gloves, clean everything. It’s constantly on the TV, on social media, in magazines, newspapers and any other place you could imagine, the government constantly drilling into us; wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands. You could say I was built for this pandemic, always washing and bleaching things. But after never being able to escape the instruction, my OCD took over and became stronger than even I thought possible. The monster I’ve been learning to fight suddenly multiplied. Normally I buy multiple bottles of soap. But when I got to the shop this time there were hardly any left so I grabbed what I could – four. A middle-age woman shouted at me for being selfish, for stockpiling, and she said that I didn’t need that many. Dead right I didn’t need that many — I needed more.

I started turning the light switches on and off obsessively and cleaning the door handles several times a day

New compulsions arose, I started switching the light switches on and off obsessively, and cleaning the door handles several times a day . I entered my bedroom not using my hands. Elbows are more useful l than we think.

I couldn’t sleep properly. I’d get up time and again through the night. When I do manage to get back to bed and fall asleep, the night terrors took over. I dreamt that people I love will leave me, either through choice or illness or an attack, and that it would be my fault because I wasn’t following the rules properly.

I need to accept that these new compulsions are here whether I like them or not

For now I need to accept that these new compulsions are here whether I like them or not, and that I have no reason to be embarrassed of them. I keep seeing everybody talking about how we need to use this time to be productive, take up a new skill. No. Just getting out of bed and having a cup of tea is enough. Battling with your head every second is hard enough without feeling remorse because you’re “not using this time effectively”. Taking a breath is using time effectively.

That being said, I’m trying to make sure this quarantine isn’t completely doom and gloom. When times are so heavy, blasting music so you can sing as loud as possible, screaming as loud as you can until you’re breathless from that and the dancing, catching your breath back and smiling, are all signs that you’re still living. Putting some trashy reality TV show on or your favourite series so you can laugh is another sign .

When everybody speaks about mental health they say having someone to talk to is so important, and I never used to believe them until a couple of months ago. I’m lucky to have the most supportive friends, one of which after meeting me decided to read up on OCD to try and help me feel more comfortable and so she could understand when I was struggling. My parents and grandmother are also incredible, not pressuring me into trying harder at things that I can’t face, not complaining about the excessive amounts of cleaning products and soap we go through, helping me to laugh about my OCD because sometimes if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry and might never stop.

I’m struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel, I find myself lusting over my old compulsions and routines as they felt so much easier, so much lighter. But even though the world feels like It’s ending, there will be better days... and I’ll be so proud that I continued recovering to enjoy them.

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