Coronavirus and Contamination OCD

I know I’m not the only one feeling the effects of the recent global Coronavirus pandemic, despite not having technically been personally touched by it. I know that many folks out there actually do suffer from Covid19 and I’m not claiming to be suffering like they are. That being said, I want to let you all have a glance at what I’ve been experiencing this week.

 

As is commonly known, I have severe OCD. I’m not proud of some of the things I’ve done in the name of this disorder. I’ve examined my body, washed it, washed objects, examined objects, obsessed over random objects and processes, to a startling degree. Rarely, however, has it been as bad as the last few days.

 

I have the common cold, common cold, common cold, I have the. Common. Cold. I’m only experiencing a runny nose and a very slight fever. This isn’t a pandemic in my body. I understand this intellectually.

 

But intellectual understandings don’t always interact properly with emotional fears and phobias. 

 

These past two and a half days, I have…

 

  • Showered seven times.
  • Washed my hands dozens of times.
  • Quarantined myself in my dorm room.
  • Missed every class.
  • Emailed my professors about what I’m experiencing.
  • Missed work.
  • Been too emotionally paralyzed to do much else but cry and talk to my parents and boyfriend.

 

I’m convinced that I have the Coronavirus. By that I don’t mean that I truly believe that I do. I mean that my obsessive compulsive disorder is telling me there’s a chance, there’s a degree of uncertainty, so it’s filling in the blanks and sending my brain into panic mode.

 

I talked with my therapist today. When I was experiencing unwanted sexual activity in the past, I’d imagine a running stream of water to get through it. It’s a cleansing image for me, holy, purifying. Showers, while not ideal when done four times a day, are better than picking, or hurting myself, or staying dirty. 

 

I’ve been tasked with facing my fear by performing actions to care for my basic needs. Drink water. Shower. Eat. Next level: do work, go to class. I’m not at that next level yet- I’m struggling to take care of myself- but I’m imagining running water when my body starts to tense up, starts to get “emotionally itchy,” when my brain is “on fire.”

 

Pandemics and mass hysteria affect those with anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorders differently than they do the average healthy person who is aware of the health risks, and though I know I don’t have it, my emotional brain doesn’t know for sure, so it’s running away with the idea. If nothing else, I hope I’ve shed some light on what folks like me are feeling right now, as if you needed more Covid19 news to be worried about…

 

1024px-COVID-19_Outbreak_Cases_in_the_United_States.svg
States affected as of March 9th.

 

Wash your hands! My readership is largely in CT, NY, VA, and PA, and all four of these places house the virus now. Some estimates say that you’re likely to get it eventually. Stay safe, and keep us anxious and obsessed ones in mind.

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One thought on “Coronavirus and Contamination OCD

  1. I am so sorry to hear you’re struggling like this – I also have contamination based OCD and I really feel your pain. Admittedly since I’ve been allowed to work from home my anxiety has reduced as I’m in my ‘safe space’ but knowing my brain and past experiences had I come down with the common cold I would have instantly gone to the same place you did. The UK is currently on lockdown and while I feel a little better knowing I can’t go out, I’m starting to worry what the effects of this virus will do to my recovery in the long term. I definitely agree that we all should be more mindful of those with anxiety disorders right now – the news especially!
    Stay safe and keep strong xxxx

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