I’m about to get really real with y’all, the pandemic has wrecked my mental health and I’m probably not alone. See, I have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
What is OCD?
What is OCD? As defined by Psychology Today, “OCD is a mental disorder in which people experience unwanted and repetitive thoughts, feelings, images, or sensations (obsessions) and engage in behaviors or mental acts (compulsions) in response. Often a person with OCD carries out the compulsions to temporarily eliminate or reduce the impact of obsessions, and not performing them causes distress.” There are many subsets of OCD. The particular one I struggle with and the most common of all subsets is Contamination OCD.
Understanding Contamination OCD
Contamination OCD is characterized as extreme anxiety that one might become contaminated by germs or get sick. During a pandemic, that fear has only increased, and here’s a little perspective into how that shapes my everyday life.
My skin is so dry from handwashing that it has cracked. Handwashing is a common compulsion but the frequency has increased due to Coronavirus. I use so much soap and hand sanitizer that my skin is literally revolting!
Timed hair-washing days
I don’t leave the house for anything but essentials. But, when I do leave the house, I make sure I come home immediately, strip down, and shower otherwise I feel like I can actually see the germs on me multiplying and it is truly terrifying.
Excessive item sanitization
I spray rubbing alcohol on all my groceries, packages, mail, etc. Everything that comes from outside of this house gets a heavy dose of sanitizing spray before it is put away. I know the research has said that contamination from surfaces and objects is likely low or rare even but if there’s even a slight chance, no thanks. Spraying everything may just be a form of “security theater” but if it reduces my anxiety, why not?!
Why did I write this post?
That’s just a small preview of what every day for the past 4 months has looked like. So why did I write this blog post? It’s the continuation of my tireless goal to normalize speaking about mental illness and end the stigma around it.
This pandemic is a collective traumatic experience. None of us are getting out of this with our mental health unscathed. My hope is by sharing what I’m experiencing maybe you won’t be afraid to speak openly about how you’re feeling. Maybe you’ll seek out professional help unashamedly. Maybe you’ll reach out to friends and family. Whatever you do or don’t do, just know, your mental health matters!