Upon reflection: OCD during a global pandemic
At the age of 13, I was diagnosed with OCD which means I experience frequent, intrusive thoughts – obsessions. For me, this involves excessive anxiety around doing extreme harm – or not being able to prevent harm happening to loved ones. These distressing thoughts result in compulsive behaviours in an attempt to relieve the unease – for me this involves constant reassurance seeking.
I’ve been studying German at the University of Warwick, and have just completed the second semester of my second year. Under the Coronavirus lockdown, however, I’ve been living back at home. The impact of this virus has had a significant effect on how well I’ve felt mentally, particularly as it’s caused a lot of uncertainty. Within a few days of returning home, my plans for the next few months were completely thrown up in the air. The third semester was cancelled, and exams replaced with alternative forms of assessment online – although it’s not clear yet what kind of assessments we should expect. I am also meant to be moving to Germany in September to complete a year at a German university, but I’m left with an overwhelming amount of questions around that too.
If I did go, would the threat of the Coronavirus still be as great as it is now? If I did go, how long would I go for? If I did still go but only for part of the year, what would I do for the remaining part of the year? Where would I stay and what would I do? How would it affect my grades and future prospects? All of these questions remain unanswered, and the long days of waiting for them to be answered are so unsettling.
I don’t have many friends back home – those that I do have are also currently living in isolation. I miss the social buffer I found at university – both friends who are living in different parts of the country or the world, and also my boyfriend. Our relationship is very new and it’s the first proper love that I’ve experienced. Going from seeing each other every day to now only seeing each other over Facetime has been difficult to adapt to.
However, I can only take one day at a time. A switch to a much slower pace under lockdown, means that there’s more opportunities to get lost in our own thoughts – a breeding ground for scary intrusive thoughts and feelings to take hold. I’m aware of that and trying my best not to get lost in thoughts of the future. Instead, I’m been looking into mindfulness and trying to take in each moment fully. I keep reminding myself that I am safe at home, and that whilst it’s very difficult, the people who I love and care about most are also safe and are only a phone call away.
I have to remember that this will pass, and that life will eventually resume to a some sort of normality eventually – perhaps a different one, but one which I can also cope with and handle – I’ve been through worse. In the meantime, I tell myself that I am surviving, and that I can do no more than live each day mindfully and enjoy the little moments. By adopting a positive perspective on this, I’ve realised how strong I am and how capable my mind can be.
For more information and articles on OCD and looking after your wellbeing during coronavirus, use the links below:
Below are some helplines:
Charity offering support for sufferers of panic attacks and OCD.
Phone: 0844 967 4848 (daily, 10am to 10pm) | Website: www.nopanic.org.uk
Support for people with OCD. Includes information on treatment and online resources.
Phone: 0845 390 6232 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5pm) | Website: www.ocdaction.org.uk
A charity run by people with OCD, for people with OCD. Includes facts, news and treatments.
Phone: 0333 212 7890 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) | Website: www.ocduk.org
By Jess Woodward. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Hammersmith, Fulham, Ealing & Hounslow Mind.
Posted on: 24th April 2020