“You Cannot live in fear” (except that I do…Every day)

At the beginning of the lockdown it seemed most people I know were abiding by the guidelines of staying home within your germ pod to slow the spread, not overwhelm hospitals, and keep our vulernable safe. I stayed home because I could. My job shifted to remote, and we were able to contain ourselves in our germ pod and do our part.

As the world starts to open back up, I have a hard time following suit. I still very much feel how I felt in March. I want to stay home, I do not want this virus, and I am not ready to get back to “normal”. This doesn’t mean I haven’t done certain things. I have gone to stores, I have seen extended family and friends, and even attended a shower and wedding for my sister. My job is still remote (for now) and I feel most comfortable staying home. Even after a gathering or event, I want to quickly retreat back to my bubble.

My feelings have led others around me to utter those five words “you cannot live in fear”. Can I though? Truthfully that is how I have lived for years, pre-covid. I do not live in fear because of covid; covid is just another thing I fear.

After I had Josie I sought treatment for Postpartum Depression. In one therapy session I remember expressing my fear of diseases and illness. I was eventually diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. My obsession was the ailment. It could range from rashes, to headaches, moles on my skin, a weird cough, asthma symptoms. It didn’t matter. If there was something new to notice I would obsess about it. Eventually that obsession would lead to the compulsion. Googling every symptom and leading myself to the worst case scenario every time. Making excessive doctor appoitnemtns (pre-covid), and generally not allowing myself to enjoy things until I exhausted all those resources and gained some peace of mind. Add a baby and another pregnancy to the mix and well, you can imagine where my mind goes.

Having an ongoing novel virus that spreads easily still lurking silently means constantly obsessing. I obsess about every sniffle or scratchy throat. I have asthma so any symptom leads me to the worse case scenario. Covid is just another thing I am scared about. Another thing to obsess over. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can look very different for everyone. I did not start noticing my obsessions until my mid twenties. I do not need to tap the door 7 times before I leave the house, or exit a room the exact same way. When I was first diagnosed I honestly would have never thought I had OCD because my perception of the disorder was much different then what existed for me.

I do not like living in fear or having these thoughts. Coping with them is a challenge every day. Writing helps (hi that is why I am here) and hearing from others helps me build a community that makes me feel less alone. To the people that tell me “you have to move on” or ” we can’t stay in bubbles forever” I invite you into my brain. It is chaos in there so you probably won’t stay long. This is nothing new. Just add covid to the list! And yes, I know this isn’t sustainable. Eventually I will be back in my classroom teaching. Eventually I will dine in a restaurant again. But I still feel like I have a responsibility to keep my guard up and do my part in my community. I stay home still because I can, and others cannot. I let my guard down to see people that are important to me while asking them screening questions like I am doctors office. I re-entered the grocery shopping world. But mostly where my mind can relax the most is when I am home. So for now, this is where I will be (most of the time).

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