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I was diagnosed with OCD at the age of twenty-five, but I had it since high school. In that period I was convinced that I had a super severe and unknown form of HIV. It was undetectable with the tests available at that time, so even if I tested and got a negative I was still sure to have it and that the negative was a failure in the testing procedure. Furthermore I could pass it on simply by touching an object or a person. It was not a particularly logical intrusion, some people for instance were immune to my form of HIV. I started a series of rituals that mainly made me avoid contact with communal surface areas or people that were not immune. I used to wear gloves as much as possible, which was helped by the fact that I used to work in labs. I used to sterilize the surfaces many times a day, both in the lab and at home. I had special procedures for washing myself and for picking stuff from the shop, rituals to take the bus or safe streets to walk on.
I think that the hardest thing during the Convid pandemic is the fact that the people are doing now the same rituals I used to do. Everybody is wearing masks and gloves, uses hand sanitizer, sterilizes surfaces. It is really important to understand the extra-ordinariness of these times if one had or has contamination OCD, so that there are no relapses into excessive rituals. I have been at home since February and had to fight hard not to fall under the pressure of intrusive thoughts. I have a very strict routine, I always get up at the same time and have three meals a day. I do a bit of yoga every morning and meditate before going to sleep. I try to keep in touch with family and friends every day and follow my medication regime to the T. I think it is important to recognize that these are hard times. One might have built a work and social network and now is forced at home for an uncertain and prolonged period of time. I suppose the best advice I can give is to take it day by day. When my contamination thoughts are particularly bad, I try to stay away from the news and social media. I have asked a friend to tell me if there is any significant piece of news to avoid constantly checking my phone for updates. It can be really though, but it can also be a moment to be introspective and re-evaluate one’s priorities through a forced break from society. I have found volunteering fundamental during the pandemic. Giving a hand to the wider community is really important to feel connected to reality and useful during this dystopian moment.
Thank you very much,