Content warning: This blog touches on topics of self harm from a lived OCD experience.
“This is the time for OCD”
The idiotic words spoken by New Zealand’s Health Minister, no less, regarding behaviour required to cope with COVID-19.
The common misconception that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder means people are clean freaks is a frustrating one.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder where people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions).
The misconception of cleanliness comes from these compulsions of repetitive behaviour, resulted from the obsessive thoughts.
So, as you can imagine, COVID-19 is not an easy time for those who struggle with it.
Some people need distractions from their thoughts. Some people need distractions from their compulsions. Self-isolation allows neither of these things.
For me, my compulsions are mainly hand washing. I cannot escape the thoughts, or the sink, due to self-isolation. My drain is overflowing with bubbles from hand soap, my hands dry and raw, my anxiety extreme.
Exercise is limited. Self-care is tough. Routine is even harder. Everything one needs to cope with the daily struggles of intrusive thoughts are obsolete.
It’s hard to stay focused when your obsessions and compulsions interrupt your day so wholeheartedly.
The frustration is paramount. This frustration comes out in other ways. Maybe being short with a partner. Silently screaming in the mirror. Self-harm. To only then feel the anxiety, guilt and shame the morning after when your leg throbs and you have to hide your cuts from loved ones who you are spending all of your time with in a tiny flat with just one room.
Let’s not use the term ‘OCD’ as an expression for someone who is particularly clean. Let’s educate ourselves on the daily struggles and all-consuming pain that someone with this disorder may endure.