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 xx