How worried should you be about the coronavirus?
This is a question that I can not answer – and to be honest, I was spending a lot of time googling but I have not been able to find any answer to it. But there is one thing I know: it has been a very difficult period for those who are suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or from any other anxiety disorder.
And I really do not want to downplay the risk or say that the mainstream media is creating needless panic because I am just a guy from Central Europe, who does not know too much about the current situation. All I want to do is to let people know what it feels like for an OCD sufferer to be exposed to the “coronavirus panic” 24/7 – in an era when shutting down social media and avoiding fake news is almost impossible.
Coronavirus and a day with OCD
Waking up in the morning. Feeling almost like P. Diddy. Spring is here and the sun shines brightly through the window pane. It’s an amazing feeling and you feel that your winter depression will soon be over.
But suddenly, a disturbing thought comes into your mind:
What if you will not be able to enjoy this beautiful spring because of this terrible coronavirus outbreak? You are not afraid of dying but what if one of your loved ones die from it?
So, you just need to check the news. You know that it is not the best thing to start your day with but you just need to know how many people are infected and how many of them have died. You just want to be sure that the risk of getting it is extremely low. But the numbers will scare you. There are more and more people who got the virus and a lot of them died overnight. It was not a good idea to check the statistics and you know that, but it does not mean that you can stop. You keep googling and the scary results will make you more and more anxious.
But soon, you need to leave for work. Did you lock the door? Now, that is something that you usually check a few times before leaving however this checking habit has gone ever since the outbreak began: because what if someone else touched the doorknob and it is contaminated? Let’s not touch it too many times because you can never know, can you? It’s always better to be safe than sorry. So you just lock the door and sanitize your hands and finally leave for work.
You are lucky enough – you do not have to take public transport to go to work. But walking to the office is not always a pleasant thing to do. Especially if you have unlimited mobile date. So you just need to check the news once more: in English and then in the other languages you speak. And the news are pretty scary – you knew they were going to be scary, but that does not mean you can just stop checking them.
And anyways, can you believe the news? What if the outbreak is much more serious than presented? What if they just downplay the risk? What if everyone you love will die? Or, what if the whole outbreak is just a lie? Who knows. You can never know, can you? So let’s keep checking the news – maybe you will get an answer to your questions.
And in the meantime, do no forget to touch your forehead every ten minutes to make sure that you do not have fever. Because what if your body temperature is too high? What if you have the coronavirus and you will infect everyone at he office? All of those innocent people will get sick because you were irresponsible. And if you think it over, you will see hat you had a lot of exposure: you are exremely likely to have the novel coronavirus. And this means that you are an evil person: you are ignoring the facts and you go to work and spend time with your friends while being infected. You are the one who will make them sick and you will be the one to blame for everything! Most of the people around you are not worried – they say that the risk is still pretty low. But what if your situation is exceptional?
You get o the office and your co-workers would want to shake hands with you. You really do not want to be rude so you shake hands with them but then you just have to run to the bathroom and wash your hands three times. Exactly three times because that is your lucky number and this lucky number.
Then you try to work on your new project, but you are just unable to. Not because you are lazy but because you just can not stop thinking about the virus. Again, you are not afraid of dying, but you are afraid of contaminating others and seeing your loved ones die.
You just want to run away. You do not want to talk about the virus or hear about it but you have no choice: it is all over the place. Everyone talks about it. If you open your Facebook, you will see all the terrifying news your friends posted. If you open your mails, you will find notifications about the potential risks. If you go on a coffee break, your co-workers will talk about the virus. At the beginning of the outbreak, you really wanted to avoid any situation that could potentially trigger your OCD, but at this point, it is no longer possible.
Finishing at work. And time to go out with your friends for a drink. You would normally enjoy going out but nowadays, it’s getting more and more difficult. First of all, you want to enjoy every moment of it, because you do not know what the future brings. What if there will be no more nights out?
They said social isolation would be a good practice. So you do not know what to do. You feel guilty to go out with your friends because you may be responsible for accelerating the spread of the virus but on the other hand you really do not want to be alone with your disturbing thoughts.
But then, going out will not solve your issues anyway. Because you have to check the news at least once in ten minutes. And you have to wash your hands every time you touch something. Which means once a minute. You try to control yourself. You try not to speak about the virus and try not to run to the bathroom to wash your hands. But you just give up.
And then, there’s one of your friends who always make fun of everything. Which is pretty okay in most of the situations but this time he starts coughing and says that he surely has the new coronavirus. You almost forgot about the whole thing but then he obviously needed to remind you!
You do not want to go home anymore because you’re afraid of infecting your loved ones, but you have to. But before going home, you just have to call your best friend to talk about the coronavirus while walking around your block. Seeking reassurance? Yes, maybe but both of you are terribly scared of it. At least you have someone who looks at the newest statistics together with you.
After looking at the coronavirus topic from every single point of view, you just feel more anxious. Because you realize that you do not know anything. That you do not know what is the truth. Overreacting media? Conspiracy? Real risk? The next Black Death? Is there anyone who knows? Google will not be able to give you an answer. You just go home and want to sleep but you can not.
And even if you fall asleep, will it solve your problems? Tomorrow will be a new day full of fears. Full of terrifying news and panic. And you just feel guilty – guilty for worrying about your OCD while there are a lot of people dying. And you feel uncertain because you do not know what is going on. Only one thing is certain: tomorrow will be another day full of uncertainty.
So the only thing we can do is to embrace uncertainty and to take all necessary precautions. May God protect us.
Again, I do not want to downplay the risks and I know that this outbreak is very serious. And while it’s important to be cautious, there are a lot of people on the internet who enjoy creating needless panic, so I posted this article to let the world know what it feels like for an OCD sufferers to go through all this uncertainty and panic surrounding the novel coronavirus. So all I can say is: think before you share!
- OCD: Living a lie
- Do not feed the monster! – 5 things that keep your OCD alive
- Coronavirus Scare and the Anxious Mind
- Demons are real: Stop Negative Self-Talk!
As you know, there’s one thing that I enjoy more than writing my stories: reading yours! So please share your experiences in the comment section!