What OCD looks like during a Global Pandemic

Updated: Jun 22

Launching a blog in the middle of a global pandemic feels like there’s only so much I can talk about. I went back and forth deciding if this was the right time, and after having a day like I had today I realized we are all experiencing this time differently and if my words can inspire at least one person the way I’ve been inspired by others’ then this is definitely the right time. I am sharing this space so that I can be as open, vulnerable, raw and authentic with anyone that reads my words, hoping to create a string of connection, relatability, kindness and hope and let YOU know that you are not alone. I am here.

It’s day 22 of the quarantine and I have OCD (still). When I looked at my list of blog ideas there was one that read “I have OCD & I haven’t (fully) freaked out during the Pandemic.” I am glad I waited until today to write, the day when I did fully freak out. Shit, I more than freaked out. The thing with OCD is, you can have really good periods of time but when something really stressful, like say a global pandemic, happens you can feel it creeping back in and for me, know the exact moment it is going to get really bad. It was this morning.

I woke up at 5:46AM, I went to pee for the 4th time since 12:00AM and attempted to go back to sleep. I closed my eyes and heard sirens far away. I wondered where they were headed to? Did they just pick someone up? Are they heading to someone’s apartment? Is that person infected with Covid-19 or was it just a heart-attack? If it is Covid-19, have they already infected a bunch of people? Will the health workers get infected? Is it a young person? An old-person? Do they have significant others? Children? Are they disabled? Will they survive alone? Are they scared?

I realized I wasn’t breathing and my chest was starting to hurt. I told myself to stop thinking about it, but we all know that telling yourself to not think about the pink elephant only makes you think about the pink elephant.

“Okay, then” I thought, time to use my skills.

I searched around for a different sound. I heard birds chirping. I smiled. I then remembered the time my boyfriend’s roommate told me that “those are the rats that live in between the buildings and not birds.” I ignored that memory & pretended they are birds. I kept smiling. I tried to listen to each chirp coming from each rat-bird and started listing all of the things I am grateful for:

“I am grateful for birds.”

“I am grateful for all animals.” My dog got up in that moment, stretched and nudged my cheek to let him into the sheets.

“I am grateful for Louie.” My boyfriend farted in his sleep, I giggled.

“I am grateful for Michael…and the fact we both think farts are funny even though we are considered adults.”

“I am grateful for my health.”

“I am grateful for my friends.”

“I am gra…”

I fell asleep.

I woke up 30 minutes before my 10:00AM alarm and I was already exhausted ready for the day to end. I’ve had many days like this one, but when you go months without them it really feels like a big L to have to experience it again. I went through my mental list of the things I can do to turn this day around. I wondered if it would take a few minutes or hours this time. I soon found out it would be hours.

I checked my phone and if I counted the total number of notifications from all of my messaging apps I would say I had 500+ notifications. Some were from group chats, others from friends and the ones that stressed me out were from my mother. She cannot navigate the health care system without me most of the time due to the language barrier. I can barely navigate our health care system and I speak fluent English, but that’s a story for a different time.

I immediately got overwhelmed dealing with hospital calls and social workers. This has become the norm since a week ago when my dad was hospitalized with Covid-19. I dreaded making the calls so I went to walk Louie instead. I knew I still had to make the calls but I became sad about the state the world is in. I spiraled down into negative thoughts of fear. What if my dad doesn’t heal from this? What if I get it and don’t survive it? What if Michael gets it? I went through a whole list of family members. How bad will the situation get here? Are we close to beating this? What if this lasts more than two months? How will I manage? How will the less fortunate manage?

I started to lose my breath again. I journaled. I cried. I journaled again. I made the calls. I cried. I watched funny dog videos. I watched funny cat videos. A wave of fear took over me and the scary thought loop took over again. I distracted myself by writing this blog. I started to feel better and realized it was 4:00PM.

A few years ago, I would’ve beat myself up for “wasting” almost an entire day “freaking out” but today, I define my wins differently and felt relieved to be in a different mindset. I showered, put on a facemask, straightened my hair while watching a show that made laugh. Everything felt stable again.

This isn’t the last bad day I’ll have. I am just glad it is the first in many months. The next one can be tomorrow, or in a few weeks, maybe in a few months. Just like everything else, I can’t predict it I can just deal with it when it comes. To me, my bad days feel like the worst bad days in the history of bad days, and somehow, knowing I can overcome those, brings me hope in knowing that I can overcome anything else the pandemic brings on; Hope that WE can overcome anything else the pandemic brings on.

¡Viva la Ughvolution!

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