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Living with OCD during a pandemic

In our latest blog our guest blogger, Zia, shares her personal and honest story all about living with OCD during these uncertain times.

I have just arrived home from the supermarket. The feeling I had whilst in there, it can only be described as terror. I almost froze as I struggled to answer the questions the pharmacist was asking. I had to go, I needed to get my meds, I couldn’t wait for delivery – an oversight due to stress meant I had run out this morning. Walking around the shop to get a few bits I mentally paused each time someone walked past, holding my breath despite my mask, and theirs.

At home I have already washed my hands too many times, thrown out all my bags and hesitated in giving my son his food I had made, thinking ‘is it still on me?’

I can almost see the virus running across my keyboard as I type. I know I need to fight the urge to clean my house, to get up and wash again but it’s hard. I am lucky that I have lived with OCD for a long time, I know my enemy and I know myself much better than I did at the start. I know today is a bad day and I know it will be easier again.

I have tried to avoid the articles telling me what I need to do and how I need to clean, I know this. If I do see one, I can’t stop watching, it makes me feel as if I am not good enough. I’m not doing all that I can to keep myself and my family safe. It gives me the what-ifs. I also avoid the articles telling me that I need to do something new or learn a new skill with all my time. If I need to go shopping, it can take up a whole day now. I know that it is enough for me to have got up, got dressed, cleaned the house and maybe tried to look at some university work. I celebrate these small achievements and make sure I take moments to pause and enjoy the sun whilst it lasts!

From the moment I heard about Covid-19 in China, I watched the news intently. As it came closer and closer, the feeling of horror I was experiencing grew. The easiest way I could describe it to family, colleagues and lecturers was to say I had been picked up and placed in the middle of my own horror story. I couldn’t get to university as the train felt too difficult, I still can’t concentrate on anything like university work now.

Before this all began, I had been ‘better’, I am a mum, a social work student and a mental health support worker. I couldn’t cope with these feelings coming back. For me, knowledge is power and at the start, there was nothing, no information I could use to ease my anxiety using logic. Even now that is hard, but I have learned to ignore fake news and give myself an allotted time to look at a reputable website each day.

One thing I have found really difficult is having to increase my medication again after trying so hard to decrease my dose. But I have accepted that this is what I need to do. If I had broken my leg, I would take the meds, wouldn’t I?

I am learning to take each day as it comes and I am trying to create a routine for myself where I can, but I am also learning that it is important to listen to my mind and body and if I need to sleep or just sit watching films, that is ok.

These times are unprecedented, and no one has the answers. Help is still out there though, and my GP has been amazing even if we can’t see them, family and friends are online or on the phone, so I am trying to keep talking.

If you need support, find out how Dorset Mind can help here.

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