When someone with OCD gets ill

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I’m recovering from a scary few days of covid. I didn’t realise the power this illness could have over me, making me feel the illest I’ve felt in an extremely long time.

I’m dealing with my anxiety a lot. Being a person with OCD obsessions around health means that when you actually get ill, things can feel unmanageable mentally too. Having been fed the horrors of covid, deaths and clinical overwhelm, seeing two lines on a test made me panic.

I am now feeling better physically, but my mental illness now has more room to interrupt and to obsess over how I’m feeling and what lingering sensations could mean. Is it that I’m scared of death? I didn’t think so, but there aren’t many other explanations.

Suffering physically can make you feel trapped. I see myself destined for a disease that escalates within minutes, leaving me to die in pain and utterly alone. My brain goes so far with this narrative that it feels real and inevitable. I remind myself that it’s anxiety, but it provides so little comfort, even to be aware of that.

How do I move forward? My body is fragile and I know that more than I have ever known. I also know that my anxiety makes things feel physically much more alarming. This is the part that destroys me. It can be so hard to know what is panic and what is a genuine cause for concern.

Mental and physical illness can be interlinked and are impacted viscerally by the social and political landscape of our world. I am terrified of dying because I believe my life to be unstoppable. I am terrified of being ill because I have been shown where it can lead. I am scared of being ill because I don’t know the difference between panic and genuine medical emergency.

Hypochondriasis isn’t a quirky cry for attention. It’s so real, confusing and made worse through a genuine illness that we have been programmed to fear.

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