Much like most of the world, COVID caught us all by surprise. For some of us we were lucky enough to manage small changes to our daily routine, while others had to endure a complete life transformation. Some of us stayed home and worked remotely, improved our relationships with family members and pets, became more organized and even developed new healthier habits. For instance, I started an amazing physical transformation and implemented healthier eating habits with consistent physical activity. I was able to lose 30 lbs and totally transform my body. I managed to dodge contracting COVID and took vitamins daily to improve my immune health. I provided telehealth counseling and was able to focus on growing my group practice. Sounds like I was doing amazing huh? Well, I am here to tell you, I may not have contracted Covid but I surely developed a total disruption in my mental health. It was subtle and insidious and if I was not a counselor and trained in being self-aware, I would have missed the symptoms completely. I was diagnosed with OCD 5 months later.
It started with me becoming obsessed with my weight loss journey and the scale became a compulsion. I then became obsessed with meal prepping, drinking at least a gallon of water a day, taking supplements, eating clean and jumping on every diet I could. It became an obsession to work out 6-7 days a week and sometimes twice a day! I suddenly became afraid to gain even the slightest of weight and would develop serious unhealthy habits of working out more when I ate “Bad” foods. I was on the wrong track. But this was just the beginning. I would switch themes every few weeks. I would then focus on organizing my house, particularly my closet and kitchen. I purchased a ton of organization tools for the kitchen and closets and became obsessed with things being neat and organized, even with my pre-teen home doing virtual learning. I would then move on to other themes that I would suddenly become looped in to experience over and over again. Other themes were: relationship anxiety, anxiety related to my daughter’s education, career advancement and re-branding and physical appearance.
I was starting to feel like an anxious and wired person constantly and I often would battle intrusive thoughts that were related to my themes. I would then go into compulsions for temporary relief but this would lead to more obsessions, anxiety and then and back to rumination of thoughts and compulsions. I was definitely in the OCD cycle.
After 5 long months of agony and anxiety, I decided to visit a Psychologist and my Physician to discuss my symptoms. My Psychologist provided an assessment and diagnosed me with OCD and was confirmed with my physician. I was prescribed medication and found an amazing Counselor who focuses on OCD recovery.
I am now recovering from my OCD symptoms and I have implemented balance in all areas of my life. My Counselor assisted me in recognizing my OCD symptoms as a trauma response that was triggered by the doom and gloom initiated by the COVID pandemic. She has been amazing at helping me to create effective boundaries with my personal relationships and with my compulsions to reduce going through the cycle. She has assisted me tremendously with my relationship anxiety and has encouraged me to experience uncomfortableness, rather than run from that feeling to seek relief.
Now that COVID is managed and most of my daily routines have returned, I am feeling more empowered. This has been a tough year for many of us and I am thankful that I survived to continue my journey and to share it with you all. If you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety or OCD, please get support from a licensed mental health provider or discuss your symptoms with your doctor. There is help available for you and you are not alone. I have recently included OCD and Anxiety as my preferred niche and clinical skill set.
Do not Suffer in silence! Please give us a call today for more information on how we can assist you with your anxiety and OCD.
Sharika Pruitt, LPC, NCC
Licensed Professional Counselor