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).

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: Days 89 – 124

Scraggly trees and a dark sunset with interestingly patterned clouds

Sunset through a pattern of gray clouds

Meds:

  • 5 mg Lexapro, normal thyroid meds
  • Vitamins if I remember (maybe a couple of times a week)
  • Exercise (walking, bicycling, skiing)

Symptoms:

  • ANGST
  • Irritability only with certain people (such as my bf)
  • Insomnia now that I’m back home
  • Longing
  • Feeling that something BIG is going to happen soon (CHANGE)
  • Confused. Torn. Mixed up.

Journal Items:

  • There’s no way for me to remember and write what has passed.
  • But I did go to my parents’ house. And spent time with my beloved, beloved dog, who has heart failure now. He’s living on borrowed time thanks to responding well to medicines. Every day he’s with us has always been and will remain a gift.
  • My dad’s going to turn 70? What? How?
  • Practicing music
  • Studying for class
  • Walking, very short walks with my dog, and longer walks with my mom
  • Skiing with my folks, and my bf when he came

The mountains, the snow, the smells, the sounds. The fresh air, the cold wind. The gravel, I could roll around in it and never get enough.

I miss it all so much. My heart stayed there. I’m a split person as I have been the whole time, but it’s more obvious right now. I’m dissociating mildly here right now. I’m not connected to this place. I don’t like living here.

But life is complicated and I have to let it slide in this moment of time. I believe the reduction of Lexapro from 20mg to 5mg has really made a large difference in me. I *feel* more like I used to feel, so long ago (I’ve been on Lexapro for over a decade). But that doesn’t mesh well with what’s around me today. I believe that the Lexapro put a bubble around me and I was okay with things I would never have been okay with before. It might reach back far enough to say that I wouldn’t have been married in the first place if I hadn’t been on Lexapro and had such drug-thickened skin. Life is weird.

LIFE IS REALLY, REALLY WEIRD!!!

I’m listening to this song all day today:
https://youtu.be/djEg4O3b2IU

Weaning off Lexapro: Days 87, 88

Deep blue sky, white, distinct clouds, green leafed tree

Stark contrast

Meds:

  • 5mg Lexapro, normal thyroid meds
  • Multivite, swallowable
  • Exercise: Walking, tiny bit of jogging
  • SLEEPING SCHEDULE OFF
  • EATING SCHEDULE OFF

Symptoms:

  • IRRITABILITY
  • PERSEVERATING LIKE MAD
  • YEARNING / ANGST
  • HOMESICK
  • Blood sugar off kilter

Journal Items:

  1. The most important issue is the sleep schedule. My bf had to stay up past 2 a.m. a few nights ago in order to finish some time-important work. I was up past midnight before I finally fell asleep. That really messed me up. Now I’m sleeping in late and going to bed late.
  2. Food. Missing meals, not eating fruits and veggies. Blood sugar thrown so far off that I had to drink a diabetic shake at midnight last night to stop the shaking that had started.
  3. I’m sad. I want to cry. I’m hurt. (Update: The feeling is separate from the following paragraph. The following paragraph is 1 thing I’m allowing to fall into the hurt category, my feeling hurt is its own thing, without a cause. It’s chemicals flooding my body and finding whatever they can to feel hurt about. I type only one example below):
    1. (I’m hurt about what some other Pokémon Go players are saying about people who ask for help to get kicked out of a gym in order to get their coins. They call people like me selfish and entitled. I find it hurtful and I don’t want to play anymore. I’m going to cheat the rules now and start a new account so I can take my own damn self out of the gyms w/o asking for help, since that is so publically judged.)
  4. I’m perseverating on things. A LOT. It’s hard to break the mind loops. OCD intrusive thoughts are strong right now.
  5. Schoolwork is going slowly. So slowly. I’m set up with a tutor now, and also an Instructor. But that won’t be for several days. In the meantime, I just have to try and keep plodding through it.
  6. My dreams at night are nice. I am back with my horse. I’m doing training. I’m with my parents and my dog. I wake up and it’s all gone. My horse is sold and I don’t know if I’ll ever have another horse. My parents are far away and plane tickets are very expensive. My dog is so, so far away. He’s about 14 years old. Okay, now I’m crying.
  7. This is not an easy phase of medication withdrawal. I don’t like it. I’m going to hang out at this dose for at least a month. I don’t care how long it takes. I won’t go down any more until I stabilize. It scares me that there are still 2 more steps down until zero Lexapro, and that final step is said to be the worst of them all.
  8. I feel different today. Like something is going to change. This happens sometimes. It feels empowering and huge and like something major is going to be fixed or my life is going to go into a different direction (Update: I wrote it in passive-tense but that’s not what I mean. I mean it feels like I AM ABOUT TO FORCE A MAJOR CHANGE). Usually, I get very depressed soon after this feeling, which is ironic but. That’s historically what happens.
  9. I am allowing myself to listen to this song on repeat all day today: https://youtu.be/pFptt7Cargc Amen. ❤ ❤ ❤

Weaning off Lexapro: Days 41 and 42

Meds:

  • 10mg Lexapro, normal thyroid meds
  • electrolyte beverage
  • medium-low amount of walking

Symptoms:

  • Depressed mood
  • Hopeless thoughts, about my life & relationship
  • Not motivated to move or do anything

Journal Items:

  • Yesterday was awful. Did I do anything productive at all? I felt just awful, emotionally
  • I’m sure I did laundry and I applied to two jobs
  • Today, I volunteered with cats and … that’s all

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.