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10 hours ago, BelAnna said:

I'm catastrophizing and fearing I could lose one of them. 

I guess this is the thing OCD latches on to BelAnna, the uncertainty that you 'could'. I think the suggestion you already acknowledged is the best for now, to assume it's a regular cold until such time  you have evidence to the contrary.  I guess focus on the problems as we know it, rather than problems which aren't certain to even be problems, so in your case two problems, you have OCD and your family have slightly symptoms of a cold.  Not sure if that helps at all.

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I'm sorry that you're struggling, BelAnna! It's okay to struggle in these dark times; I know I have been. You're a good, kind person who's doing her best and is being very caring. You can't help the situation; it's par of the course but ensure you take care of yourself as you go along. You're going to be absolutely fine, I promise you. :hug: I understand your trepidation, because I'm worried about my Dad. 

If it makes y'all feel better, the poor young soul who went global last week for ignoring the guidelines during Spring Break - and lots of his friends as well - has apologised profusely for his attitude. I feel bad for him; he's a young man who's learnt the hard way. At least we're all doing our best; he learnt his lesson in the end. 

C x 

 

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Also, my bad, Ashley, I didn't reply to you before - thankyou so much for the reassurance there, even though I realise it's not what I'm supposed to be aiming for! :D I also fell into the trap this morning of explaining the situ to the landlady and basically quizzing her about it; she humoured me on the subject. She's also agreed to drop rent in these times of uncertainty, which is very sweet of her. 

I've managed to go and worry my Dad spectacularly with all this; my anxiety attack/breakdown from the last week hit full-scale last night and he's worrying greatly about me. So we're now dealing with that. Gah.

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I took a weeks sick like as I have had bad anxiety and panic due to this. I felt very guilty about it but couldn’t cope being front line in non essential retail.

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18 minutes ago, Phil19 said:

I took a weeks sick like as I have had bad anxiety and panic due to this. I felt very guilty about it but couldn’t cope being front line in non essential retail.

I think that's understandable, a lot of people will be struggling and taking time off so important not to let the guilt beat you up. Hopefully a couple of days you will feel stronger and you can return :)

 

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Weirdly.

Although I am not washing my hands for the full 20 seconds, I am washing at the right times, i.e. after being out to shops etc. But something I just realised I did Monday was actively give a very quick squirt of dettol (wiped dry with kitchen roll) of my keys and my phone (which I had touched to read my shopping list). On a normal day I would say that was OCD, but my thinking when I got back was very much 'virus' rather than 'this is dirty'.  Was spraying the keys and phone OTT and going down an OCD path? I don't think so, I guess if I am still doing that post virus then maybe.

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Just now, Ashley said:

Weirdly.

Although I am not washing my hands for the full 20 seconds, I am washing at the right times, i.e. after being out to shops etc. But something I just realised I did Monday was actively give a very quick squirt of dettol (wiped dry with kitchen roll) of my keys and my phone (which I had touched to read my shopping list). On a normal day I would say that was OCD, but my thinking when I got back was very much 'virus' rather than 'this is dirty'.  Was spraying the keys and phone OTT and going down an OCD path? I don't think so, I guess if I am still doing that post virus then maybe.

It's funny because I've thought this a few times lately (is this ocd or virus) - but my theory is I think on some level we always know if an action is compulsive or not. From what you've put it seems like this was about the unusual circumstances we're in rather than ocd. 

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2 minutes ago, gingerbreadgirl said:

it seems like this was about the unusual circumstances we're in rather than ocd. 

I think so too, however, I am well into recovery and think I will get the balance right and not slip but I fear that for some people this will see any therapeutic gains undone the longer this goes on.

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1 hour ago, Ashley said:

 I am well into recovery and think I will get the balance right and not slip but I fear that for some people this will see any therapeutic gains undone the longer this goes on.

I wondered about this, but if you think about it 20 seconds handwashing is a lot LESS than many compulsive washers usually do. So if we recommend EVERYBODY sticks to the rules and washes for 20 seconds it could be beneficial to their OCD as well as general health.

Those who keep going longer than the 20 seconds believing/feeling it is keeping them safe by doing so can perhaps use the 20 second rule alongside CBT to begin to limit their OCD rituals.

 

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1 minute ago, snowbear said:

So if we recommend EVERYBODY sticks to the rules and washes for 20 seconds it could be beneficial to their OCD as well as general health.

I don't mean the time so much Snowbear, but the frequency. In normal times we don't need to wash our hands when we come in from being outside, my worry is that that feeling and need will continue beyond the virus, and if that happens 20 seconds will become 20 minutes eventually.  That's my fear, but hopefully people can find a way to practice their therapy whilst this goes on to maintain gains.

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Good point, Ashley. The additional precautions needed just now aren't normal or natural and after this is over it may indeed mean some people have 'new habits' to break. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

In the short term it's more important people abide by the rules to keep themselves and others frrom contracting the virus. Practising therapy may need to be more cognitive than behavioural for a while, keeping the thinking behind the handwashing ritual at the forefront of our minds, as you did when you self-analysed if your reactions were because of the virus or because it 'felt dirty'. 

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I think this is excellent advice for those having difficulty coping in these trying times. Originally posted on Facebook. 

From a psychologist:
After having thirty-one sessions this week with patients where the singular focus was COVID-19 and how to cope, I decided to consolidate my advice and make a list that I hope is helpful to all.  I can't control a lot of what is going on right now, but I can contribute this.  

Edit: I am surprised and heartened that this has been shared so widely!  People have asked me to credential myself, so to that end, I am a doctoral level Psychologist in NYS with a Psy.D. in the specialities of School and Clinical Psychology.  

MENTAL HEALTH WELLNESS TIPS FOR QUARANTINE

1. Stick to a routine.  Go to sleep and wake up at a reasonable time, write a schedule that is varied and includes time for work as well as self-care.

2. Dress for the social life you want, not the social life you have.  Get showered and dressed in comfortable clothes, wash your face, brush your teeth.  Take the time to do a bath or a facial.  Put on some bright colors.  It is amazing how our dress can impact our mood.

3. Get out at least once a day, for at least thirty minutes.  If you are concerned of contact, try first thing in the morning, or later in the evening, and try less traveled streets and avenues.  If you are high risk or living with those who are high risk, open the windows and blast the fan.  It is amazing how much fresh air can do for spirits.

4. Find some time to move each day, again daily for at least thirty minutes.  If you don’t feel comfortable going outside, there are many YouTube videos that offer free movement classes, and if all else fails, turn on the music and have a dance party!

5. Reach out to others, you guessed it, at least once daily for thirty minutes.  Try to do FaceTime, Skype, phone calls, texting—connect with other people to seek and provide support.  Don’t forget to do this for your children as well.  Set up virtual playdates with friends daily via FaceTime, Facebook Messenger Kids, Zoom, etc—your kids miss their friends, too!

6. Stay hydrated and eat well.   This one may seem obvious, but stress and eating often don’t mix well, and we find ourselves over-indulging, forgetting to eat, and avoiding food.  Drink plenty of water, eat some good and nutritious foods, and challenge yourself to learn how to cook something new!

7. Develop a self-care toolkit.  This can look different for everyone.  A lot of successful self-care strategies involve a sensory component (seven senses: touch, taste, sight, hearing, smell, vestibular (movement) and proprioceptive (comforting pressure).  An idea for each: a soft blanket or stuffed animal, a hot chocolate, photos of vacations, comforting music, lavender or eucalyptus oil, a small swing or rocking chair, a weighted blanket.  A journal, an inspirational book, or a mandala coloring book is wonderful, bubbles to blow or blowing watercolor on paper through a straw are visually appealing as well as work on controlled breath.  Mint gum, Listerine strips, ginger ale, frozen Starburst, ice packs, and cold are also good for anxiety regulation. For children, it is great to help them create a self-regulation comfort box (often a shoe-box or bin they can decorate) that they can use on the ready for first-aid when overwhelmed.  

8. Spend extra time playing with children.  Children will rarely communicate how they are feeling, but will often make a bid for attention and communication through play.  Don’t be surprised to see therapeutic themes of illness, doctor visits, and isolation play through.  Understand that play is cathartic and helpful for children—it is how they process their world and problem solve, and there’s a lot they are seeing and experiencing in the now.

9. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and a wide berth.  A lot of cooped up time can bring out the worst in everyone.  Each person will have moments when they will not be at their best.  It is important to move with grace through blowups, to not show up to every argument you are invited to, and to not hold grudges and continue disagreements.  Everyone is doing the best they can to make it through this.

10. Everyone find their own retreat space.  Space is at a premium, particularly with city living.  It is important that people think through their own separate space for work and for relaxation.  For children, help them identify a place where they can go to retreat when stressed.  You can make this place cozy by using blankets, pillows, cushions, scarves, beanbags, tents, and “forts”.  It is good to know that even when we are on top of each other, we have our own special place to go to be alone.

11. Expect behavioral issues in children, and respond gently.   We are all struggling with disruption in routine, none more than children, who rely on routines constructed by others to make them feel safe and to know what comes next.  Expect increased anxiety, worries and fears, nightmares, difficulty separating or sleeping, testing limits, and meltdowns.  Do not introduce major behavioral plans or consequences at this time—hold stable and focus on emotional connection.

12. Focus on safety and attachment.  We are going to be living for a bit with the unprecedented demand of meeting all work deadlines, homeschooling children, running a sterile household, and making a whole lot of entertainment in confinement.  We can get wrapped up in meeting expectations in all domains, but we must remember that these are scary and unpredictable times for children.  Focus on strengthening the connection through time spent following their lead, through physical touch, through play, through therapeutic books, and via verbal reassurances that you will be there for them in this time.

13. Lower expectations and practice radical self-acceptance.  This idea is connected with #12.  We are doing too many things in this moment, under fear and stress.  This does not make a formula for excellence.  Instead, give yourself what psychologists call “radical self acceptance”: accepting everything about yourself, your current situation, and your life without question, blame, or pushback.  You cannot fail at this—there is no roadmap, no precedent for this, and we are all truly doing the best we can in an impossible situation.  

14. Limit social media and COVID conversation, especially around children.  One can find tons of information on COVID-19 to consume, and it changes minute to minute.  The information is often sensationalized, negatively skewed, and alarmist.  Find a few trusted sources that you can check in with consistently, limit it to a few times a day, and set a time limit for yourself on how much you consume (again 30 minutes tops, 2-3 times daily).  Keep news and alarming conversations out of earshot from children—they see and hear everything, and can become very frightened by what they hear.

15. Notice the good in the world, the helpers.  There is a lot of scary, negative, and overwhelming information to take in regarding this pandemic.  There are also a ton of stories of people sacrificing, donating, and supporting one another in miraculous ways.  It is important to counter-balance the heavy information with the hopeful information.  

16. Help others.  Find ways, big and small, to give back to others.  Support restaurants, offer to grocery shop, check in with elderly neighbors, write psychological wellness tips for others—helping others gives us a sense of agency when things seem out of control.  

17. Find something you can control, and control the heck out of it.  In moments of big uncertainty and overwhelm, control your little corner of the world.  Organize your bookshelf, purge your closet, put together that furniture, group your toys.  It helps to anchor and ground us when the bigger things are chaotic.

18. Find a long-term project to dive into.  Now is the time to learn how to play the keyboard, put together a huge jigsaw puzzle, start a 15 hour game of Risk, paint a picture, read the Harry Potter series, binge watch an 8-season show, crochet a blanket, solve a Rubix cube, or develop a new town in Animal Crossing.  Find something that will keep you busy, distracted, and engaged to take breaks from what is going on in the outside world.

19. Engage in repetitive movements and left-right movements.  Research has shown that repetitive movement (knitting, coloring, painting, clay sculpting, jump roping etc) especially left-right movement (running, drumming, skating, hopping) can be effective at self-soothing and maintaining self-regulation in moments of distress.

20. Find an expressive art and go for it.  Our emotional brain is very receptive to the creative arts, and it is a direct portal for release of feeling.  Find something that is creative (sculpting, drawing, dancing, music, singing, playing) and give it your all.  See how relieved you can feel.  It is a very effective way of helping kids to emote and communicate as well!

21. Find lightness and humor in each day.  There is a lot to be worried about, and with good reason.  Counterbalance this heaviness with something funny each day: cat videos on YouTube, a stand-up show on Netflix, a funny movie—we all need a little comedic relief in our day, every day.

22. Reach out for help—your team is there for you.  If you have a therapist or psychiatrist, they are available to you, even at a distance.  Keep up your medications and your therapy sessions the best you can.  If you are having difficulty coping, seek out help for the first time.  There are mental health people on the ready to help you through this crisis.  Your children’s teachers and related service providers will do anything within their power to help, especially for those parents tasked with the difficult task of being a whole treatment team to their child with special challenges.  Seek support groups of fellow home-schoolers, parents, and neighbors to feel connected.  There is help and support out there, any time of the day—although we are physically distant, we can always connect virtually.

23. “Chunk” your quarantine, take it moment by moment.  We have no road map for this.  We don’t know what this will look like in 1 day, 1 week, or 1 month from now.  Often, when I work with patients who have anxiety around overwhelming issues, I suggest that they engage in a strategy called “chunking”—focusing on whatever bite-sized piece of a challenge that feels manageable.  Whether that be 5 minutes, a day, or a week at a time—find what feels doable for you, and set a time stamp for how far ahead in the future you will let yourself worry.  Take each chunk one at a time, and move through stress in pieces.

24. Remind yourself daily that this is temporary.  It seems in the midst of this quarantine that it will never end.  It is terrifying to think of the road stretching ahead of us.  Please take time to remind yourself that although this is very scary and difficult, and will go on for an undetermined amount of time, it is a season of life and it will pass.  We will return to feeing free, safe, busy, and connected in the days ahead.

25. Find the lesson.  This whole crisis can seem sad, senseless, and at times, avoidable.  When psychologists work with trauma, a key feature to helping someone work through said trauma is to help them find their agency, the potential positive outcomes they can effect, the meaning and construction that can come out of destruction.  What can each of us learn here, in big and small ways, from this crisis?  What needs to change in ourselves, our homes, our communities, our nation, and our world?

Edited by PolarBear

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Just speed read this PB and some good stuff, though we must of course obey the restrictions of our own government. 

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Of course, Roy. This was written by an American doctor, so rules may differ.

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Oh no.

My landlady, who works as a prison nurse, just came home and told us that there's one suspected corona case at her prison. She joked flippantly 'we'll probably all get it.'

Normally, I wouldn't mind, but I was supposed to go home tomorrow after two weeks of self-isolation.  :(

C x

Edited by Cub

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Hi Cub

Not sure about the recommended procedure on this one. Hope you are feeling well.

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Hi Angst

I'm feeling okay - just deeply anxious but my dad's on his way. I've been self-isolating with the exception of shopping/walking and I feel okay; I've had no symptoms and all I feel right now is anxiety. I'm terrified of passing something unknowingly but my Dad and brother have decided it's best I go now for the sake of avoiding it - especially given my landlady's flippancy - and for my mental health as I've been a mess. 

Wish me luck. I hope we're not doing the wrong thing. :( Been up most of the night worried sick and unable to relax. The good news is that I have my own seperate part of the house at my landlady's - my own bathroom and fridge. 

C x

 

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Hi Cub, 

It sounds like a really difficult call to make but I think you're doing the right thing. Plus it'll be nice to have your family around you :)

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Thankyou. My Dad isn't coming into the house and I've told him not to touch me. I did consider staying here and just accepting the situation and just getting throught it (which might either help or hinder my anxiety, I don't know) but I think leaving might be better. I just hope I don't do anyone a harm. :( I've been imagining all these horrible scenarios, unable to relax, thinking what if I have it, what if I pass it onto my Dad or stepmum, what if they die, what if I spend the rest of my life with that on my shoulders? I wish I'd let him come and get me earlier but I was afraid of everything and now I feel I've jumped from the frying pan into the fire. Now, I'm scared to relax in case I'm letting my guard down and something bad does happen.

Wish me luck, guys. Thankyou for the votes of confidence. ❤️

C :hug:

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Try to remember Cub that you can only do so much and although there's a suspected case at the prison your landlady works at, it's still unlikely that you'll get it. Also, the decision isn't all on you, your family have also agreed to bring you home. Just try to enjoy each day and for now assume that you and your family are free of Covid-19. 

Good luck :) xx

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Thanks Gemma. I've been anxious all night but it comes down to either staying trapped with this for several more weeks or getting out now. Appreciate the good thoughts. ❤️

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I'm back with my Dad now. Feeling a lot less anxious but am keeping my distance. Right now, I'm struggling with the guilt of my own search for certainty when so much is happening out there. I'm trying to keep busy with a FutureLearn course which is nice but have had difficulty concentrating to due to the urge to carry out online research (confided in my stepmum a bit from across the room; she gave me some chocolate and told me to stay off the internet). 

Are we all searching for certainty in these strange times? Everytime I think I'm okay, I remember the world outside and I'm scared of my OCD turning me into a paranoid, not-very-nice person. 

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Hi everyone. 

I want to try and put a better perspective on things. 

Scientists now know the Earth is actually 4.54 billion years old, an age built on many lines of evidence from the geologic record.

And it is still here. Not wiped out by aliens, conflict, asteroids or whatever. 

Civilisation on the planet has faced umpteen challenges since life on earth began, but we are still here. 

In my own lifetime there has been threat of nuclear annihilation, world war 3, the Cuban missile crisis, 2 gulf wars, terrorism. 

There have been epidemics and pandemics. As a child a massive fear was the spread of polio, and I remember having a very painful compulsory inoculation for that. 

What can we learn from this, and life experience in general?

The biggest lesson I ever learned was that worry is pointless. If I had worried about the consequences of those things, I would have made myself ill. 

As a child I just trusted adults to sort it out. 

As a man I learned to change what I could, accept what I can't, and recognise the difference. 

To not worry - which just results in endless angst without resolution. 

But rather to lay my trust in others capable of making resolution, be concerned - yes - but not worried. 

In the present crisis I am, with my wife, taking every reasonable step to safeguard ourselves and others. But after that I will be concerned, but not worried. 

Ultimately the country, the world will come through this. Don't know when, don't know how. But some very clever people, some absolute heroes, and a large number of volunteers are working tirelessly to bring this resolution about. 

I feel enormously for those whose livelihoods are threatened. But perhaps the way forward is another good old worry rule. Consider the worst that could possibly happen. Accept that. And then work out how best to come back from that, if indeed it does happen. 

And let's remember, OCD will take an inch of threat, however remotely possible, and turn it into a mile of danger. 

We need to see that, refuse to go along with that, see the "threat" for what it really is. 

The easiest, quickest, way to do that? Consider how sensible non-sufferers would respond to our OCD fears, and determine to adopt that stance. 

At my age I don't have to fear for employment. But I did. I was made redundant once, and almost once a long time earlier just at the time I needed my Employer to confirm my employment when we requiring a mortgage to complete our first house purchase. 

What did I do? I told my employer this, and shamed them into finding me another position. So we got our mortgage and our first home. 

Times are really challenging now, but they won't be for ever. Let's all look to beyond the present difficulties - this too shall pass. 

Edited by taurean

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"And let's remember OCD will take an inch of threat,however remotely possible,and turn it into a mile of danger " 

( Sorry I can't use quote thing)

This is what I have been doing Taurean . And because it's a real thing I was even doubting I had OCD . However I am reacting like this while no one else around me is, which I guess is what makes it ocd. The way my brain processes the given information however slight. Getting back on meds tomorrow . Hopefully things will improve .

Thank you so much for sharing this wisdom. It has been especially helpful when I can't quite think straight at the moment

 

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I can't leave my house even for food, already feel extreme guilt that i've passed the virus on and I'm convinced I'm contaminated.

I'm still working - from home - full time, and it's incredibly difficult for me to actually focus and function. I'm not being very productive and probably shouldn't be working. But I already recently had a couple of weeks signed off by my gp, and this did nothing to improve things. And work is a distraction, when I'm productive.

Trying to stick to a structure and at least now I have a desk to work from, although i have to work in the living room - downside to living in a flat in london, with no garden. Feels incredibly claustrophobic. 

 

you are right, the world will get through this. Nature is continuing like normal, and that itself is a comfort. 

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