Topic: OCD and the so-called novel Coronavirus

[Hi all. I’ve been wanting to write a post about this for a while. But full disclosure: I have been very, very, extremely lucky. I was able to leave the city for the country, where I have been for three months. I did touch three airports and then quarantine for 14 days on the other end. Also, I am still employed and working full time from home. And largely, none of my friends or family have died from the virus so far. So my thoughts on this topic are not as panicked and stressed as they would otherwise be. The only negative I feel at all times is anxiety/guilt — because I am so far away from my partner and workplace, and feel I have been more lucky than I “deserve”. And work is super stressful because three people were fired and the rest of us have to pick up all of their work. But that is all for a different post.]

What I want to discuss is this highly contagious virus and my observations from the perspective of someone who experiences contamination OCD on a good day. To me, it feels like a very cranked up version of how I’ve always felt. It’s like my normal tendencies are amplified.

I was born to wear a mask. I was born to avoid touching doorknobs and avoid outstretched hands of greeting. I was born to avoid breathing in another person’s breath. I was born to stand across the street when chatting with neighbors. I was born to avoid standing in a crowded post office. I was born to stay a hundred miles away from a sneezing or coughing person. The amplified part is that I do feel strong anxiety when a non-household member gets very close, particularly if they’re not wearing a mask. And I feel quite upset when I have to go into a store, with double-mask and typically gloves (for which I have a specific routine), and so many other people are not wearing masks at all (if they would wear a mask, there would be less chance of virus in the environment).

These parts of the so-called “new normal” are easy. What will NOT be easy, and may in fact be impossible for me, is going back to a previous life. How will I possibly snuggle in shoulder-to-shoulder with a hundred other people on a dirty train? How will I possibly walk around in a grocery store in the future without a mask and possibly gloves? (How had I ever become so mentally healthy that I was able to do those things?)

Hearing people TALK about hand-washing for 20 seconds, and proper washing technique as though it was a brand new concept was shocking to me. Hearing people actually think aloud about what might be on a mailing envelope or a piece of grocery store fruit or a public railing was a little satisfying for me, I’ll admit. For a brief time, non-contamination-OCD people actually had one second of insight into my mind. There’s never been ANYTHING in public that I’ve EVER touched in my adult life that didn’t cause me to at least briefly consider what might be on it. 99.99% of the time, I’m able to pick up or handle the item anyway, but it’s ALWAYS the first thought. For a brief time, people around the world seemed to take a moment to consider those things, too. It was nice.

I use past tense because a lot of areas within the USA seem kind of done with considering surface contamination. That’s fair enough, because now we believe the virus isn’t as transmittable by surface contact, so even I don’t wash my hands after handling the newspaper (which was delivered four hours before I touch it anyway, so I don’t know if that example should count).

How I’ll deal with life going back to the old-normal, I have no idea. Frankly, I’m probably isolating myself so much that I’m missing out on a lot of germs that would be helping to strengthen my immune system in the long run. But the future will come when it comes. For now, you’ll be speaking to me through a mask from a great distance away.

My contamination OCD to be triggered soon due to upcoming visitor

We are about to have a house guest, for one week, who severely triggers my contamination OCD. I have on multiple occasions found shitty fingerprint on things in the bathroom during his previous visits. Like literal shit fingerprints. Like made of feces in the shape of fingerprints. On objects. Maybe I can just rent a hotel room for a week and then hire a cleaner to come through the house after he leaves.

Aside from that, he’s an entertaining guest and I don’t mind his presence. But. … Oh gawd.

OCD Run Wild

I woke up this morning with a major flare up of my OCD. I was in bad shape. My thought loop couldn’t be broken and it was about my old obsession, which I have written about here once, somewhere. (Not that the post does it justice.)

Probable Causes for the Current Worsening:

  1. I’ve been a little under the weather for the past few days. I’ve had symptoms like dissociation, which always freaks me the fuck out, since I used to dissociate 24/7 for a couple of years with no hope of ever recovering (which I mostly did, though).
  2. I have a disc that I would like to access in order to lift off photos of my dog, but it happens to be labeled as containing old emails I wrote to [person of my obsession] and my therapist at the time. I haven’t brought myself to open the disc, yet, although I desperately want those dog photos.
  3. In the past week and a half, I have had a couple of dreams which have become a routine — a few times a year, I get basically the same dream. [Person of my obsession] has, after so many, many years, agreed to meet with me at a public cafe, and have a conversation with me about what happened, so that I can have closure. Sometimes these dreams end up with him agreeing to meet me once every couple of weeks, and always he is disinterested in my company and disappears. But that part isn’t the distressing part. It’s the fact that he’s agreed to meet with me in the first place. It’s so real. There’s so much hope. This happens several times a year (regardless of whether I was on the 20 mg Lexapro or the current 5 mg).
  4. Because of feeling under the weather, my boyfriend and I had a conversation that went badly and I felt untrusting toward him. Whenever I lose trust in a person I’m supposed to be close with, I remember [person of my obsession]. Because I trusted him completely, 100%, as I have not done since then toward any human. Any. Human. And frankly, will probably never do again.

Anyway. I let myself give in to my obsession this morning. I opened up Facebook, which I don’t use anymore. But I did. I contacted one of his best friends. I said, basically, that I am having a really hard time with my OCD right now but it looks like it’s been 7 years since I’ve written to you so that’s pretty good.” He doesn’t know the story, he doesn’t know what’s bothering me, he doesn’t know why I wrote to him 7 years ago, either. Thank god I have a buffer, but it’s still bad that I broke down that way this morning. He was kind in his response. It’s a person I’ve known since elementary school yet we don’t keep in touch (and I’m not sure this is considered keeping in touch, either).

Depression

SquirrelHi all,
I’m having some trouble with depression. I don’t know when it started. It’s possible it started an hour ago. Or maybe a month ago. Or maybe years ago.

I’ve been anxious. That seems pretty irrelevant and I don’t want to talk about it, but it’s probably pretty important. Especially since it contributed to some sleepless nights.

I wish I could share the reason for my anxiety on here but I can’t because this is public.

I had an emergency session with my psychiatrist. She gave me some interesting suggestions for how to deal with my OCD next week. She gave me a very expert place to go when I return, but that won’t be in time.

I “should” be so happy. If I had six months before this trip, it could be nothing but bliss. But I’m traveling on very short notice and the tasks will be difficult. And I’m very afraid of something I cannot tell you.

I have a pretty bad yeast infection. I didn’t see a doctor, but I know. It’s causing a lot of pain.

My bf and I didn’t get along tonight and it wasn’t even my fault this time. Usually it’s me being crabby but this time it was him. I left the room quickly because I hadn’t come to argue. I was excited about sharing with him how I’d fixed the doorknobs today. I don’t know what went wrong, but it makes it kind of hard to breathe. Kind of bleak and gray and hopeless.

It’s entirely possible he and I aren’t a good match and won’t last much longer. But I want to get my shit together before I were to try and start a new life again. Then there are days when it seems like things are smooth here. Who knows. I can only say, “I need help” so many times before the phrase becomes pointless.

Anyway, I don’t have the money. School is going smoothly but I need a job. My money goes faster than I had projected.

I will be so happy once I’m there. I am supposed to spend an hour a day imagining getting rid of my belongings and feeling calm. I need to go.

A Brief Update (and a single picture, for now)

imageI couldn’t let you know ahead of time but I went Home (my parents and dog) recently. I’m back home (bf, school) now but I made it and it was wonderful. I can’t say much tonight; I’m going to go to bed very shortly.

There was much skiing and walking and such. I mean much. Every day.

So now that I’m back, I don’t want to lose that momentum. So I went to the bike shop after school yesterday and got my bike all fixed up (there were some things wrong). I also bought yet another lock. Two, actually. One is just to hold my seat on. The other is a fricking expensive but light-weight u-lock for my frame. City living…

So I biked to school today. That was pretty rough. I had to walk two hills on the return trip. It was a total of 9 miles and not flat enough for me. And my anti-persperant definitely couldn’t hold up… Plus I had jogging class. Apologies to the folks who sat near me at the tutoring center today.

It’s hard to be away from my parents and my dog. It’s interesting what kinds of things I have such strong emotional attachments to and what I can now part with. I parted with some more clothing. Even a black sweatshirt I had held onto for maybe close to two decades even though it had shrunk and was too small for me. But for many years, it held sand from an old Hawaii trip in its pockets, even after numerous washes. It was very sentimental for me. But I was able to part with it.

Then there were things in my childhood bedroom that had been rearranged and I was actually able to rearrange certain things, too. That’s pretty big for me. Certain shelves had to be kept in a certain arrangement or else I would experience intense anxiety due to OCD. It would feel that my luck would change and I would get terminally ill or those I loved could get terminally ill or injured. But it was not so bad this time around.

That is not to say I was able to part with all sorts of things. There is still so much I’m hanging onto and I wish I could let them go. But I won’t despair; it seems that things have been getting a little easier each time. So perhaps next time I am there, I can part with a few more things. And so on.

Anyway, I really need to go to sleep. One thing I did not get a lot of was good-quality sleep. For one thing, I was sometimes very sore and didn’t take pain medicine and thus didn’t sleep well. For another, there was a headboard I wasn’t used to and kept bonking my head into it.

Oh, but being with my parents and dog was WONDERFUL WONDERFUL WONDERFUL. There is so much I could say and tell about.

OCD: Contamination: RED ALERT!!!!!

Red Alert!

Red Alert!

Red Alert!!!! All hands to battle stations!!! Haaaaaaaalp!!!!!

My bf didn’t wash his hands after he used the toilet. Haaaaaaaalp!!!!!

Evasive maneuvers! Prepare to evacuate the ship!!!

—-

I knew I’d learn dirt on him eventually, but did it have to be something so drastically awful?! How does one live with this, if they live with this?

My ex wouldn’t wash after peeing. I talked with him about it. So he started to wash after peeing… so long as he thought I was watching. Haha, yeah. It grossed me out. I’d make him wash before he could touch me sometimes. But if that experience is Truth for all humans, then I cannot expect current bf to change assumedly lifelong habits. I live with it or I don’t.

OCD contamination: You know that as soon as the infatuation stage wears off for me, Every. Single. Touchable. Spot. in his apartment will feel Contaminated to me. Everything. I’m still quite convinced he got raw chicken juice on the dish towel last night, so I’m avoiding it until it gets washed.

But I’m still in the infatuation stage of this relationship and I really, really like him. So I just don’t want to care about such things.

Dating and thoughts on emotional associations / OCD mental contamination

Some of you probably remember that I have extremely strong associations/ mental contamination issues, and that my dog and a particular counselor (linked strongly to someone in my past) are the only post-college beings I’ve emotionally connected with since I left for college (i.e. since 2001). Here is the post I’ve already written on this topic: CLICK HERE.

So I noticed something a while back that is pretty astounding. “Peter” actually reminded me so strongly of someone pre-college, that I was able to connect emotionally. That’s the third living being I’ve connected with since 2001, and the second human. He’s linked in my head as feeling “pure” / “untainted”. Even when I’ve talked about some really bad things with him, I felt nothing slip.

I haven’t told you guys but he was actually able to come on part of the bicycling trip with me and my parents and family friends. My brother and his gf were also there for a day. I got used to “Peter”‘s daily company in that brief time and I cried ridiculously when he had to leave at 4a one morning for France (work conference). I didn’t tell him that. I did write to him something heartfelt but I’m trying hard not to be overwhelming.

But what will be, will be. “Peter” is important to me and that’s nothing I can/will hide. I hope for the best but I’m not going to get sucked in, no matter what my obsessive tendencies try to convince me to do. My heart is in a position to be hurt and that’s just what it is. If this pans out, great. And if not, I’ll be back to meeting new people, complete with more memories of positive times and the knowledge that I do actually have the ability to feel connected to a new human and a bit of lingering sorrow for something that could almost have worked out but didn’t.

In the meanwhile, I’ll continue to enforce time boundaries of how many days a week I will see any particular person, and I’ll continue/begin again to find my upcoming schooling and apartment. I have to make these decisions with the mental image of me living without him in my life. I have to set up my life for complete independence. I cannot repeat past mistakes. And he very well might not be a part of my future. I have to plan my life that way. I must expect it. In reality, either of us could decide the other is not what we’re looking for at any point. It’ll just be.

OCD: Contamination: Food, wasting

It’s finally come to me removing food under the pretense that I will eat it when that is not my real intention.

Why has it come to this, you ask?

(Sadly, these stories will involve meat; if you can’t stomach the thought of people eating meat, please don’t read on. There’s a reason I’m not vegan right now but I won’t go into it yet.) I believe it started with some amazingly-cooked turkey legs that were wrapped in foil and placed in the refrigerator on a night I did not eat at home. There were quite a few legs.

  1. Many legs in fridge
  2. I wasn’t home when they were made and served
  3. I barely touch anything in a fridge to begin with; I certainly won’t touch food that appeared without my having been present
  4. Perhaps 3 or 4 days into their existence in the fridge, it was suggested to me that I eat them
  5. I took 2 with me to work and did eat them for the rest of the week, in spite of them being already past my 3-day-old comfort zone. I was anxious but zapped them in the microwave for a long time, and ate them. (i.e. My anxiety of letting down the cook was higher than my anxiety of intestinal issues.)
  6. There were still more legs in the fridge
  7. 1.5 weeks into it, they were offered to me, and I declined
  8. Same for the next day
  9. And the next day
  10. And I’m sweating bullets trying so hard not to offend the cook but there’s no chance I’m consuming these any more! (How does one politely decline food when it is now being pushed at you with a fair bit of momentum?)
  11. Somewhere after they were 2 weeks old, maybe 2.5 weeks old, they finally disappeared. Of course I feel horrible, but also relieved.

Only, there is a lot more food in the fridge where that came from. I’m learning the patterns. There will not be cooked food in the fridge for periods of time. Then the food shows up in high quantities when it shows up. I cannot consume it all within the 3 days. I wish that I could freeze things so I could spread it out better but there is not enough freezer space.

This is so tragic to me, and so wrong, but I finally broke down and took a bag of ribs with me to work, but not to eat. I’d had a couple of them the night before, and got sick later (probably unrelated). The ribs were already past 3 days old then. So I took a baggy with me to work with the intention to place them in the compost bin. >_< It is so horrible and removes the possibility that someone else at the house would eat them, but I just cannot face the inquisition as to why I won’t touch a food that’s in the fridge. There are still tons more ribs in the fridge and nobody is eating them and they get older every day and I’m still expected to eat them.

There are a couple more items that I will be gradually taking with me to work, for the purpose of disposal. I wish this were not the case. I don’t know what else to do.

Maybe I could purchase a small freezer and sneak it into my room without them noticing it… and without them noticing the additional electricity on their bill…