Anxious Ramblings 5 | Contamination OCD and the Coronavirus Pandemic 2: Electric Boogaloo

Hand Washing

It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about the C-word properly in relation to my mental health, but as lockdown rules are very slowly being lifted (or at least, they are at the time of writing), I feel it’s probably time to address it again. In honesty, not much not has happened since you know…lockdown. My mental health overall hasn’t been too bad since we went on lockdown, mainly because at one point I hadn’t left the house in four weeks, but the prospect of things starting to be lifted is already starting to set off my anxiety.

Again, I probably don’t need to tell you that I’m going to be talking about coronavirus in this post, so please proceed with caution if this is something you find triggering!

When I last posted about coronavirus and my OCD, we hadn’t gone on lockdown yet, but we had a major hand sanitiser, soap and toilet roll shortage. Lockdown has mainly meant that I’ve been working from home which has actually worked wonders for my mental health. I don’t have to use the vile toilet in my office, I don’t have to worry about rationing my hand sanitiser, and more importantly, I’m not forced to listen to hourly updates on the radio about how many people have died. Of course, I miss the girls I work with and the office banter, but for the sake of my sanity, it’s a small price to pay, and I will happily continue working from home for a bit longer.

At the beginning of lockdown, I didn’t leave the house for four weeks. While it was low-key intentional, I was still willing to go shopping and such, although given Liam’s working hours are more flexible than mine (and the recommendations that only one of you should go), he’s been going every week while I’ve been working. A month into lockdown, we went on our first walk around our estate which was really nice and it was good to actually get some fresh air. It was quite scary and I had to seriously fight the urge to change my clothes afterwards, but I was proud of myself for doing it.

Since then, we’ve been on a few more walks at the weekends, and while I’ve considered getting back into Couch to 5K to encourage me to get out, I’ve stuck with my Blogilates workouts instead. Of course, the government recently lifted the restrictions a bit here in the UK, allowing us to meet with one person not from our household, as long as it was outdoors and adhered to social distancing. This meant that I was allowed to meet my Mum for the first time in nearly three months, which I did last weekend and we took Daisy for a walk. The next day I also met Lillie and her pooch, Cooper for another walk, so it was really nice to get out and actually socialise properly.

So considering what state I was in last time I wrote in detail about the ‘rona, things aren’t too bad. However, I’m starting to worry about when things start returning to normal. Mainly, because there are so many guidelines for staying safe – I’m sure many people with contamination OCD will relate – and pretty much all of these are behaviours that I have worked incredibly hard to either stop doing or do to a normal level.

Of course I wash my hands loads anyway, so that’s not an issue. I’m mainly referring to various articles that have come into light about leaving packages before you open them, wiping down your groceries (I haven’t seen any official guidance for it, but so many people I know have been doing it!) and so on. I’ve been really good with the whole not wiping down groceries thing – mainly because I know for a fact if I do it, it’ll be a brand new compulsion that I will struggle to stop. However, it’s very hard to resist the urges and to ignore the obsessive thoughts that come about after I’ve touched packaging.

I have issues with the face mask thing too. I’m not sure what the official advice is, but I know many people have started to wear them when they go shopping and such. I completely get why it’s recommended, but from an OCD perspective, I know for a fact if I start wearing them when I go out, that’s it – I will struggle majorly to go out without one. Of course, if it becomes mandatory, then I’ll do it no questions asked, however at the moment, I have chosen not to because I know for a fact it will be opening up a can of worms. At the moment, I’m not going shopping anyway, and the only time I’ve been going out has been for walks, so for now I’m trying not to let it get to me too much.

Honestly, my main worry now is how my mental health will be in the aftermath of this pandemic. My regular readers will know that I don’t cope well with sick people in general – but I can tell you right now that every cough I hear in future will fill me with anxiety, and I will lose my shit if anyone with a cold comes near me. I hope to god that once things return to normal, they at least keep the rules around isolating if you have cold symptoms.

It’s no secret either that I have certainly slipped when it comes to my OCD. My rule of three when it comes to hand washing has gone out of the window, which is probably what I’m struggling most with. It’s weird, because I’m going literally nowhere, but I still feel the need to compulsively wash my hands whenever I need to. I feel incredibly angry that this pandemic seems to have unpicked all of the hard work I’ve done over the last few years, and given the pressure it’s put on the NHS, I feel like getting some help will be even more difficult than it was to begin with. But we’ll see. As I’ve been doing throughout this entire situation, I’m taking things one day at a time.

Apologies that this post doesn’t particularly have much structure! I didn’t really have a plan for it but I just wanted to sit down and give an update on how my obsessive little brain is coping with all this. Hope everyone else is doing okay and staying safe. Much love xxx

11 thoughts on “Anxious Ramblings 5 | Contamination OCD and the Coronavirus Pandemic 2: Electric Boogaloo

  1. I really appreciate and love the honesty behind these posts. I too feel very anxious about things being lifted. I haven’t been outside since the lockdown has begun unless it is in my own garden. I am actually really scared and even when someone coughs in my household (despite not going out) the thought chills me and I stay away from them. I hope you’re doing okay, I am always here if you want to talk 🙂

    Em x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Em, that means a lot 🙂 I know what you mean, literally every time my husband coughs I’m like “Omg are you okay?” – I think it’s driving him mad! Same goes to you if you ever need to talk. Thank you for reading xxx

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  2. This whole pandemic is just a massive pile of shit! (There’s no other way to describe it). It sounds like you’re getting yourself through it quite well and I think you’ll find you take a lot of new coping mechanisms from this which will help in the future ☺️ Going back to normal life is scaring me too (although I know our reasons are different). I think it helps to know that we’re all worried about going back into the world. Hopefully in the world will be a little more understand and kinder 🤞🏼 A huge amount of people have suffered with their mental health during this pandemic and so hopefully we can turn it around and improve our services and understanding 🤞🏼 Keeping doing what you’re doing and just getting through each day ☺️xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment Liz, it really means a lot 🙂 I really hope everyone’s a little kinder after all of this (and a bit more hygienic as well if I’m honest! 😂) I feel as though they’re going to have to do something for MH services once we’re out of this because I know so many people have been suffering! Hope you’re doing okay xx

      Liked by 1 person

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