The Effect That COVID-19 Has Had On My Therapy/Recovery

Dear Diary,

It’s one o’clock in the morning as I am writing this draft and only one thing is on my mind: I wish I could speak to my psychologist.

I’ve done two or three zoom calls months and months ago which went well, however the real thing is no doubt better for a number of reasons. The first of them being that it’s awkward with internet connection; especially for someone like me whose house is notorious for having dreadful WiFi and secondly, because I would not be comfortable talking about intrusive thoughts over the video call – it would feel weird for me.

My psychologist who I have not seen in at least five months by my own reluctance to zoom- and my previous improvement in dealing with my OCD which also meant less need for appointments- is a child phycologist and guess what? Soon I will no longer be a child.

I was supposed to have more time with my psychologist over the last year. A pandemic was not supposed to happen and intervene in my improvements. I wasn’t supposed to have to grow up without being able to visit my therapist because of a virus. I suppose a lot of people will be feeling like this and I know that I am very lucky in the grand scheme of things – a lot of people have had to cope with a lot worse this past year.

I wish I could make it all go away. I’m feeling exhausted by lack of sleep, guilt, worry and regret. I wish I could give being normal – whatever the hell that means – a go for a day and spot the difference. I wish that I could’ve worked out some of my problems with my psychologist and psychiatrist (who are wonderful doctors and people by the way) during the past year in a world where the pandemic never happened. If wishes were horses.

But I can’t change what has happened. I can only sit here, in my pitch black room after resisting the urge to give in to my OCD. My skin spotty and hair slightly greasy due to the poor dietary choices I’ve been making lately. I can watch the shadows form around the light of my iPhone screen, my Alexa playing the soft sound Distant Thunderstorm in the background and hope that somehow, tomorrow will be better.

2021 Exams Are Cancelled And I’m Scared

The exams for the second year in a row have been cancelled and I’m not sure how I’m feeling. On one hand I’m glad that we now know (kind of) what is going on. On the other, I’m scared about all the complex marking systems, I’m scared about the fact that the senior year students will likely have a shorter year since their are no final exams and most of all I am scared about leaving school, my friends and my routine.

This years exam results are crucial to either getting into or being rejected to university. The last year of high school means there are no do-overs next year for I will not be there anymore. This puts the pressure on regardless and the added distrust towards the Scottish Qualifications Authority since the disaster last year does not help.

I’ve been in school for the majority of my life – I’m used to school. I may not like it all the time, I may find it hard and I may find it impossible but I feel like I need it. The cancellations of the exams means that I’m going to have to deal with leaving the security of school. School is not a choice. It is mandatory and requires no life-changing decisions to be made. When I leave school I’ll have to make choices, make decisions and grow up and the exams being cancelled is the somewhat convoluted path my brain is taking to convince myself that I’m going to be facing my ‘school’ extensional crisis sooner.

I have a few good friends in school. I have every confidence that my best friend and I will keep in contact and that is brilliant but some of my other good friends and I will inevitably drift apart. It’s hard for someone like me who struggled her whole life to make friends, finally does and then realises that she will lose them to time and distance.

That’s life of course, people move on, they drift apart, a quote from a children’s book I used to like “real friends let each other grow up” rings true here. I thought I’d be in school forever as it often felt like it – but the truth is that it’s coming to an end. I’m going to have to accept that I’ll have to grow up, the announcement of the exams being cancelled further fuels my “growing up” anxiety and the only thing I can do is accept this.

For now though, I’m going to allow myself be sad for a little while.

Going Cold Turkey On My Compulsions: Day 1 Of OCD Rehabilitation

Later today I’ll have to complete my personal statement and do various other administrative jobs like checking e-mails or revising for a geography test. Though these tasks seem fickle in comparison to the fact that I’m going against my nature and resisting the urge to listen to my OCD.

The day after a breakdown is worse than the breakdown itself. I feel nausous and drained, like everything in the world is wrong.

I’m wearing a bunch of jewellery today. For the reason that is that my OCD is telling me that If I wear it, I will ruin it and contaminate it. So I’m wearing a shocking amount of expensive jewellery for a Friday morning which I’m not seeing anyone but well, here we are.

I bought a new ring from Pandora a few days ago. It is the new Cinderella ring that I bought with my own money. It’s beautiful and currently on my fingers. My OCD is whispering your going to ruin it Lucy, It is being contaminated right now and will become even more contaminated after you go to McDonalds’s today. It’s hard to drown the voice out and almost amusing that my metaphorical demon is concerned about a drivethru.

I know why I’m “concerned” about going to McDonald’s, my favourite new intrusive thought – conjealed beef fat – partly originated there. No matter how hard I tell myself that it’s not going to ruin anything (to be fair I don’t tell myself this as much as I should) it still hurts.

That’s the main problem with OCD isn’t it? I think people assume when someone has OCD that when they have a breakdown it’s because something isn’t perfect and they feel stressed. Of course there is stress.

But the main problem is that when you stop giving into your OCD it feels like the world is wrong. There is no romantic, Hallmark movie type panic. You feel like you want to crawl out of your own body and scream. The world feels dirty and disgusting and you can either give in and dull the pain momentarily making the world feel more in control, more good, more clean…or you can feel the agony of years of ingrained beliefs being ignored, you can suffer through the revulsion of whatever the OCD makes you think is the cause of your life’s problems in the hope that eventually after ripping off the bandaid, the pain will go away.

It did for me last time. My OCD was still there and obviously it lingered and grew in strength the more times I gave in a little but it can be done. You can go cold turkey on your compulsions. It just hurts a great deal.

Seventeen Going on Eighteen

Perhaps this is a bit premature but I’m beginning to feel the deep fear of becoming an adult. I’m currently doing driving lessons and discussing universities and careers with teachers at school. As soon as I get in a car or sit in a meeting a single thought always occurs: I am not old enough to do this.

I say discussing my future, but I really mean avoiding discussing my future. There are only so many times you can refuse to click on personal statement ideas e-mails or refuse to research the process of getting a CV until you have to face the music. Applications and processes feel unreal and like I’m playing house as a little child not as a legal adult in March next year.

Driving is going okay however communication is difficult for me in the car. I know mostly what I’m doing but being asked how many cars could be lined vertically on a piece of road inevitably leads to responses such as;

How big are the cars?”, “Depends on the road.”, “No. Yes. I’m not sure.”, “What type of cars are they – is there any buses?”

Such questions are far too vague for my head to understand but I try my best and that seems to be good enough for now.

However my point is that I feel as though I’ve been in a coma from birth only to wake up last year having missed so much of my life, now expected to then be an adult without the proper training. The truth is that most of my life has been spent with OCD and undiagnosed ASD. For years I was depressed and focusing on my compulsions at the expense of my health and I barely had time to focus on my own life investing too much energy in worries and insecurities.

That’s not to say I’ve never had good times in the past because I have, but the net-whole of my life has been a cycle of avoidance, stress and depression. Now that my life is so much better due to fighting my OCD and getting support for my ASD, I feel as though I’m little kid again. I want to be stupid and carefree like I was supposed to be way back when and although to some degree I can it doesn’t make up for the years that I lost.

Perhaps my fear of growing up and becoming an adult is part of the grieving process for the life that I could’ve had if my brain was different.

Eventually I will have to grow up, as will every other teenager, but for now I’m going to shut up and drive and get career support through my high school. I’m going to sort out my future even if I’m not ready for it to come. Maybe growing up will take longer than eighteen years for me and maybe that’s okay.

Even though I fear my future education, responsibilities and life, I will cross that bridge when I come to it. For now though, I’m off to play fortnite.