I have talked a lot in the last few days about how I’m coping amid this pandemic, given I have contamination OCD.
I’ve talked of how I’m constantly scared, and how it’s impossible to escape people talking about the pandemic.
I’ve talked about how my mental health is worsening because of the lockdown as it’s undoing all the exposure therapy that I’ve previously done.
I’ve talked of how my hand-washing is once again out of control. My hands are bleeding, my fingers are painful, my skin is cracked and broken, and my knuckles are close to becoming infected again.
But one thing I haven’t talked about is the exact way in which this pandemic scares me on a personal, individual level, regarding my OCD. …
Contamination OCD Amid a Pandemic
The one thing that the UK government has been constantly telling us since the start of the Covid-19 Pandemic is to wash our hands.
Wash your hands. Sing Happy Birthday twice while washing your hands.
Wash your hands more than you normally would.
Use antibacterial soap.
Here’s a guide on how to wash your hands.
Washing hands helps to prevent the spread of this disease. Regular hand-washing is vital.
But it’s something I struggle with.
I have the Contamination subtype of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
I used to wash my hands more than sixty times a day. My skin would crack and bleed and my fingers were badly swollen, due to this amount of washing. Two of my knuckles became badly infected and I now have arthritis in one of my hands. …
Wherever you look, you see the words “coronavirus” and “Covid-19.” These words are everywhere. Articles about the pandemic. Reports of deaths. Posts on social media telling you what you should do to avoid it. News clips drilling into you the seriousness of this pandemic.
I have OCD, and my OCD is contamination based. For the last year, I have been in treatment for this. OCD is a severe anxiety disorder where the person is compelled to do things to negate a false sense of danger.
At my worst, I was showering five times a day, washing my hands 50 to 60 times a day, and living in constant fear. I felt like no matter what I did, I was contaminated. I’d get ill. I’d spread the Contamination. …
I make no secret of the fact that I have poor mental health.
This wasn’t always the course. Until my early-to-mid twenties, I’d never really had any mental health problems. But then I developed brain inflammation, namely in the basal ganglia region of the brain. This is the part that’s responsible for habit formation and emotion.
Suddenly, I found myself with severe OCD, a debilitating anxiety disorder, and emotional lability.
I was twenty-three when this started. And I’m now twenty-five. I’m better than I was. I no longer cry randomly multiple times a day. My OCD is no longer severe all the time — it alternates between mild and moderate. I only spend three to four hours doing my compulsions each day, rather than up to fourteen. …
This is the second article in my 10 Things series about PANS/PANDAS. While my first article was from my own perspective, as a sufferer of PANS, this article is all about the things that parents of children with PANS/PANDAS want you to know.
But, firstly, what is PANS/PANDAS?
Well, these are two conditions (Paediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Disorder and Paediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Strep) where the immune system misfires and antibodies attack the brain. This causes a wide range of symptoms and startling behaviours including:
- Rapid-onset OCD
- Emotional lability
- Separation anxiety
- Cognitive decline (particularly in maths)
- Development of tics
- Loss of balance and coordination
- Problems with motor-skills, including changes in handwriting
- Personality changes
“Oh, it must be so nice to rest all the time.”
This has been said to me by many a well-meaning person, and every time it annoys me.
I’m chronically ill and need more rest than an average person. I am only able to work part-time, and even then, I do a lot of my work lying down as my autonomic system works better the more horizontal I am.
I take a lot of rest days. I have to. When I haven’t, I’ve ended up hospitalised as I’ve pushed myself too far. And I’m still not great at accepting the fact that I need to rest a lot. …
Talking to someone when you are struggling with mental health issues is known to be a good thing to do, whether it’s a family member, friend, or medical professional. But I know from experience that the times when I most need to talk to someone are also the times when reaching out is the most difficult.
If I’m in a place where I am so low and scared, I tend to also isolate myself. My mental illness tells me that I’m alone, that reaching out to others would be placing a burden on them, and that I shouldn’t do this.
It tells me I’m annoying and that no one wants to listen to me talk about this. …
PANS (Paediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Disorder) and PANDAS (Paediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Strep) are two types of encephalitis, that is brain inflammation that arises as a response to a misfiring immune system. This brain inflammation affects the basal ganglia part of the brain and can result in a range of symptoms, from mental illness to handwriting changes.
Just how important is a name?
We all know names are important. They’re what gives us our identities. They’re what we grab onto and hold close.
We give ourselves nicknames and pet names, to show affection and closeness. We associate some names with certain situations – the use of a full name when we’re being reprimanded, for example.
We use labels as names too, whether we do it positively or negatively.
It is human nature to want to know and understand things, to identify things, and for that we need names. …
I’ve struggled a lot lately. I feel both shame and strength in admitting this.
One of my goals as a mental health writer is to help break the stigma around mental health, and I’ve been doing this by sharing my experiences. I use my writing – both on Medium and elsewhere – to do this. I’ve got my poetry collection out now, which explores the OCD and psychosis I’ve experienced as a result of an immune disorder which causes brain inflammation and mental health issues. …