OCD tends to be viewed as excessive handwashing and a fear of contamination. But for the first 6 years of having diagnosed OCD, I don’t think there was ever an instance of me considering germs any more than the average human.
During the coronavirus crisis I have witnessed mental health being a topic discussed more than ever, not just limited to specific days of the year. I am pleased this discussion has arisen, yet as we ease lockdown, I see its influence already becoming diminished.
The discussion has not influenced parts of our society that are causing the most stigma and discrimination: culture, social norms, expectations, and workplaces. What I have been struggling to come to terms with is the concept of “returning to normal”, particularly as an individual with multiple mental health conditions.
When lockdown began, everything felt surreal. The threat of coronavirus had been building over the weeks, and apart from washing my hands extra vigilantly, I didn’t think it would get as bad as it did. My colleagues and I were gobsmacked when people started panic buying all the toilet roll. Even though I have several health conditions which make me extremely vulnerable to the virus, I never felt the full reality of the situation until I began self-isolating a week or so before the government’s full lockdown.
We all know someone who experiences anxiety. A friend, or a friend-of-a-friend. That ‘flaky’ someone who turns up late, or cancels last-minute; who often seems on edge; who takes forever to make a decision; is overly worried what others might think. Maybe a colleague who takes random days off; or struggles with sudden changes of plan. I could, of course, be describing you. If so, welcome to the gang.