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.

Corona virus and wanting to go Home

Well, it’s finally gotten to me. The whole virus thing. I’m not even worried about catching the virus, because I’m not in a particularly vulnerable group, so it would probably be like a normal flu for me. I hate flues, but I don’t think I’d be hospitalized or anything like that. But all the same, I want to go Home. I want to be with my parents. I’m tired. Everyone is talking about working remotely for a while. I wish my job didn’t involve the fact that I have to go to the office for certain tasks. But I don’t know how I could do certain things from afar. MOST of my job, I could do from afar. Like 90% of it.

I’d want to go Home in the best of times. But now I’m very stressed. I’m snapping at the people I live with. I’m getting a bit short with people at work when they don’t respond to my questions within 24 hours. And it’s probably because they’re choosing to work remotely at times and I can’t, so I’m jealous.

You know, whatever job I get next, I’m going to make damn well sure that it’s something I could do remotely if push came to shove. I hadn’t PLANNED on going Home yet, but my partner has to stay home for the next month. A lot of places around here have told their workers to work remotely. The trains are bizarrely empty and it’s nice because I get a seat, but it’s also weird. I wonder if I’m the smart one or the stupid one.

My parents are kind of worried. They’re in a vulnerable group. I want to be with them. I am Homesick. If the vision of going there hadn’t entered my head, maybe I wouldn’t be so wistful, but it’s in my head and I want it so badly.

I mean look, if worst came to worst, I could ask for unpaid leave and go there anyway, and leave the company in a lurch. And if they said no, I could quit and walk away, and go Home.

I’m kind of lonely lately. I have been arguing a lot and, like I said, I’ve been very snappy with the people I live with. I don’t feel connected with them right now. Everything they say and how they say it feels alien. They don’t understand me and I don’t understand them. But it’s become so bad, I’m not sure how to get out of it and get back on the same page, at least with my partner.

Oh the things I wish I could say on here.

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.

An update: been okay, yet not tonight

I don’t know why, but I’m super emotional tonight and really upset and I want to stay somewhere else tonight. It’s probably a mutual misunderstanding.

Anyway, things have been pretty great lately. Work is awesome. I’m very lucky.

There’s going to be a change in my family soon. That might be stressing me, although it’s a positive. But it’s also the unknown.

But tonight, I’m full of angst. This morning, I was in tears talking with my partner over the issue not mentioned in the first paragraph (it isn’t about him, but is about something in our living situation). This evening, I’m so angry and so anxious. And I feel so alone and misunderstood. And so. so. so. so alone.

But I’ll feel fine and cheerful once I’m at work again. If I could just stay there all day and night, I’d probably feel a lot more stable. I get so awful on the weekends– that’s always been true for me, in my adult life. I am stable at work, but an emotional wreck at home. And always, always depressed and moody on the weekends.

My lymph nodes are painful tonight. I feel like crying. I won’t be able to sleep because I lost one of my earplugs. Wait, I think I found an extra packet tucked away a few weeks ago. I’m going to go look for it.

Major insomnia

I can’t sleep. I’m too anxious. I’m upset, I’m stressed, I’m disappointed. And I’m sick with a head cold. So I really need to be asleep.

I’m obsessing. I need to let things go. I doubt anyone reads these anymore. I am still not back to it as my obsessive interest, so I haven’t spent time on other people’s blogs (which is not to say I’m disinterested in the people I used to follow; I would like to still know what is up for you, but I cannot read).

I cannot click the links. I cannot spend time. I cannot change my mind from a certain topic; I’m obsessed. I’ve been obsessed for a while but I didn’t mind before; it had healthy benefits before (it still does). But now the unhealthy, life-disrupting aspects are negatively impacting me extremely enough that I can’t stand it. I have to either quit or seriously draw back from it. Restrict my time “for real”. I could uninstall the app.

What would my day be like tomorrow with the app uninstalled? I would wake up (hopefully on the later side, since I’m sick and still awake). I would eat breakfast more calmly (yes, EVEN THOUGH I haven’t caught a shiny flower-headband eevee that was only available for two days and disappears tomorrow afternoon and won’t return for at least a year).

Where was I? Oh yes, I would eat a way calmer breakfast. Then, I will put away the clean dishes and pick up my stuff from around the house (especially everything I have strewn around in the bathroom). Then, I would finish the photo book that is due tomorrow.

Wow, and then it would be time to start on chapter two of my class. It’s strange. My semester doesn’t begin until Friday, yet I have felt like an utter and complete slack-off failure for the past week, since I finished my previous class early.

That’s because I’m unemployed, and I know perfectly damn well that I’m not behaving like a full-time student. I’m behaving like a slack-off no-good leach of … whatever. You get my point. The pressure is there to be productive and make progress. I already took a vacation the week before (for real, I went on a vacation).

I have needed to write here. I already feel about a thousand times better than at any recent point. But there is something about clicking on links that I dislike. Going to website, reading, doing. I don’t know how to explain it. I hate doing almost anything over the Internet. I only read this one chat site (about the game, of course), and watch YouTube videos. Oh, and read my online textbooks. But I hate visiting other websites. I hate trying to figure out where to click, what things mean, how to navigate different sites, etc. I’d much rather take care of business over the telephone. Which is weird, since I hate talking on the phone. But I do most things over the phone, even if there’s a website that would probably take much less time (but it would take so much more brain power and I’d get confused and frustrated and have to read tiny print and find the right buttons to click and all that). Yuck.

I feel different about all of that than I used to. When I was in high school and the first years of college, I felt pretty damn pro at navigating the Internet. EVERYTHING was better online. Now I’ll avoid it whenever I can. It’s just too MUCH.

But then, I used to be really organized with my emails and stuff. Now, conversely, I remain with thousands of unread emails and I only check email every couple of weeks. I used to check a couple of times an hour! Well, it used to match with my obsessiveness and now it doesn’t. All emails used to have a nice little folder I could organize them into and now they don’t. I don’t know if life changed or if it’s mostly been my brain that’s changed.

But thank heavens for this space. I don’t come here often. In large part, there is my fear over how transparent I’ve been. If certainly people read this blog, they would know me instantly. I haven’t been subtle and have shared a lot that I probably shouldn’t have.

I could start a fresh blog again, elsewhere, but I suspect that the same thing would happen. So I don’t really know what I’m doing with this blog. It’s been too revealing, and gives me an opportunity to reveal too much in the future. But it sure helps me a ton in the present.

Anyway, so I have two choices for tomorrow.

  1. I could wake up and be completely obsessive and try as hard as fucking possible for that shiny flower crown eevee. I could forgive myself for taking my last day off before my new semester begins the following day. I could run lures and incense while putting away the dishes and picking up my stuff and eating breakfast. And then, I could go out into the world of obsession and really go all out, finding all of the lured hotspots and going nuts until the event ends in the afternoon.
  2. Or, as I said somewhere in the above paragraphs, I could uninstall the app. I could breathe deeply and calmly. I could eat a peaceful, simple, non-multi-tasked breakfast. I could put away the dishes, pick up my stuff, and still feel calm. I could start reading chapter two (I’m getting a small head start on the next semester).

There’s nothing inbetween. Can you imagine an inbetween? I can’t. I don’t know what that would look like. Get up, eat breakfast, put away dishes, pick up my stuff, all without the app running? But it wouldn’t be calm. It would be anxious and neurotic. I would feel anxiety the entire time, fearing that I was missing out on my last chances of finding that damn, impossible creature.

Then there’s this other aspect of the game that’s stressing me out but I don’t think it’s something that I can share here, since it’s revealing. I wish that I could write about it but I won’t.

It’s interesting. When I’m at my parents’ house, much of the app seems far away. There are still certain things I’m obsessed about, but many things I just let fall away. But when I’m here, I have to try or … or what? Who cares? What difference will it make? One day, this whole thing will be obsolete and none of what I’ve collected will still be with me. None of it. But hopefully the friendships and contacts will somehow remain. I don’t know how many of them could, but I hope they do. New goal: No shinies during events.

Wow. This has been a real relief. I’m going to go pee again, blow my nose, and then attempt sleep.

Weaning off Lexapro: Days 125 – 136

I have been and am still on Lexapro 5 mg. I will not be reducing any more any time soon. So I won’t be continuing these type of entries after this, unless my dose changes.

I am on the 5 mg, after having been on 20 mg for like 12 years straight. My emotions and perceptions of the world around me are all over the place. In nearly every aspect of life, I am torn.

It’s impossible for me to know at this moment if indeed all of these parts of my life actually need to change, or if the angst and unrest I’m experiencing is a direct result of the decrease in Lexapro. I could make these changes and tear apart my current life. Or I could increase my Lexapro dose. Or I could do a little bit of both. But at this exact moment in time, I cannot know which is the most “correct” choice.

The past weekend was terrible. I was avoiding studying for a Final exam and I failed the pre-assessment. But all of the terror and hopeless that I was feeling inside, I didn’t attribute properly to the schoolwork. I attributed it everywhere else around me and I hurt my boyfriend and I hurt our relationship pretty severely.

When I was Home recently, it felt right. I wanted to stay forever. But if I broke up with my boyfriend and moved back Home, I’m sure I’d be full of anxiety and feel very dark and depressed. I’m sure that I would feel very scared and as though I’d shut a door to a very large world. I’m sure that for a long time, things would feel without purpose, shallow, and hopeless.

I pay [irrelevant] a month. I flip between that seeming like a small amount and an impossibly large amount. I am unemployed. So that money is basically coming from old savings– mostly money from my now-deceased grandparents.

But, many people go into debt for an education. That is socially acceptable and “normal”. ((All irrelevant.))

Logically, I realize other people’s wealth is irrelevant. I made the CHOICE to quit my below-minimum-wage-tutoring job to focus entirely on school. Of COURSE that means paying out of savings for a couple of years (kiss the old money goodbye; I wasn’t very good at Math).

I’m considering reapplying for the tutoring job. They’ve increased the wage to minimum wage now. I’m sure I could get in a few hours a week. It would be really hard because the bus route is not fast, and I can’t have the job unless I’m also taking classes there. So I’d be really splitting up my time to make a tiny amount of money. But it would also be giving me back my self-esteem. I felt good when tutoring people. And it would be good for me to have a set schedule.

My boyfriend and I are thinking of moving. I don’t know if it will help us or not. But I think that we need to feel more like independent adults again. And I hope we can find a place that shortens both of our commutes. But the cost will go up. We pay [irrelevant] rent right now but I don’t think we could find anything that low anywhere near here.

Yep, there is that wave of hopelessness. I just pictured how much effort and energy I will be putting into tutoring and how very, very little money I’ll be making and how it will all be going to rent. I know, this is reality for many people. Maximum effort to not even stay afloat.

I could go back to my parents. I’d be on such a good schedule there. I’d feel so much more at peace there. I’d be with my dog, who has congestive heart failure but is responding well to his medications. Up there, I could get a part-time job again and study. It’s all easier there.

I don’t want to go to couples therapy this week. I’m afraid of what we’ll talk about. And I don’t know my own mind on so many of the topics.

For now, I need to stop thinking. I need to focus on studying today. I deleted my beloved Pokémon Go app. If I could just delete the thoughts from my head… I need to get through a lot of readings and practice problems today.

Weaning off Lexapro: Day 40

Meds:

  • 10mg Lexapro, normal thyroid meds
  • electrolyte beverage
  • a little bit of walking

Symptoms:

  • Fretting over my current relationship with bf
  • UPDATE: A symptom I’ve been forgetting to mention but have been experiencing for a couple of weeks: a strange, warm, fuzzy feeling in my stomach. It’s very unusual for me. It’s almost like, a positive, warm fuzzy happy feeling? It’s really weird.
  • UPDATE: The acid reflux stuff seems to have eased off

Journal Items:

  • Got up for an appointment with a course professor at 9am
  • Went for a walk afterward
  • Ate breakfast/lunch at a cafeteria type place
  • Went to a library to focus on my studies
  • Kind of frittered away time once I got back home
  • Watching horse videos online and some stuff on learning disorders
  • Wrote an extremely long email to relationship counselor (she’s already replied; she’s very nice and makes me feel hopeful)
  • Ate dinner late (9pm)
  • Getting ready for bed

Weaning off Lexapro: Day 18

Yellow flowers on a tall, green tree and a blue sky background

A lovely tree from 2 summers ago

Meds Today:

  • 10mg Lexapro, norm. thyroid meds
  • exercise (walking)

Symptoms:

  • Extremely bad acid reflux or something during the night (I won’t go into details but it was very bad)
  • Very poor quality sleep last night
  • Light-headed at times
  • Okay mood until 1 thing bothered me with bf, then angry for like an hour
  • Anxious/surreal in the evening, but reason to be explained below

Journal List:

  1. Got up around 10ish, I think, which isn’t terrible considering how poorly I slept
  2. Ate breakfast with bf, who’d taken the day off
  3. We also ate lunch together, halfway to our differing destinations
  4. I volunteered at an animal shelter
  5. We met back up, but alas I got defensive over a street crossing comment that is a sore topic because I always feel like he’s criticizing the way I cross streets, which I think is preposterous because I’ve driven for years and he’s never had a license and I think I know better what pedestrians do that is scary for a driver than him. But anyway.
  6. We got home and I went to my computer and took about an hour there to process part of what I do as a volunteer. Meanwhile, I was wearing ear protection, like what is used on rifle ranges, because I had heard some talking downstairs and then a loud television, and I wanted to focus well on the volunteer stuff
  7. But it turned out that my bf and his mom had a big blow up! I’ve never heard them have a blow up before. She told him to go to hell. I can’t fathom. He hates being her tech support and I guess she was asking him another question about her broken cell phone and he was refusing to help and things went out of control somehow.
  8. So of course, then I start shaking, I don’t know why exactly — after all, I hadn’t heard any of it until he came up to talk with me about what was happening. I suggested that maybe she’d gotten upset when he told her it was easy and she could do it herself — I said that would upset me, anyway. He back down and apologized for that and said it wasn’t easy and was hard and that’s part of why he doesn’t like helping (he does tech stuff all day at work and doesn’t want to be tech support outside of work, which he made clear when we first moved in here — he had laid down 2 rules. 1) No loud TV after we’ve gone to bed, and 2) no asking him for tech support)
  9. But anyway, it didn’t help, and she was really crying
  10. I came down and bf was trying to explain something to her and she was sobbing into a kitchen towel while making us all dinner! I signalled for him to stop and whispered, emotional flooding. Conversation later, not during emotional flooding
  11. Also, she said please watch the food, she would be leaving, she just had to leave (not sure where to fit this in)
  12. I told her, it might be bad timing but I was just headed out to do a 1-tier Pokémon Go raid, would she like to come. She did (Update: Which was true– I’d been planning to go to that 1-tier raid so I wouldn’t waste a raid pass)
  13. So she and I walked for at least an hour and ended up doing two raids and it was nice, although surreal
  14. We all ate dinner together afterward but I can’t say things are totally fine yet, although they’ve chatted a bit and we all watched Dr. Who together just now.
  15. I feel not normal but at least not depressed, so. That’s something.