The world we once knew is gone. Many things that we used to take for granted are no longer there. Let’s hope we will soon go back to normal but nobody knows when exactly that could happen. So at the moment, the best we can do is enjoying our lives as much as we can.
It’s a perfect time for self reflection. Self reflection – and not overthinking. It is a difficult time for all of us and I really want to keep my blog a “safe place” for the next few weeks. It does not mean that we should bury our heads in the sand but there’s enough negativity everywhere else on the internet. So, instead of telling you about the bad things that happen all over the world, I would prefer telling you what I have learnt from this crisis and how it gave me more strength to fight my own demons.
Since the beginning of March, there have been several restrictions in my country (Hungary) and since last Saturday, we have officially gone into lockdown. Now, lockdown is a pretty scary word, especially because our restrictions are pretty relaxed in comparison to other European countries – lot of stores are still open and you can go hiking if you want to. And honestly, I do think that spending time in the nature is extremely important in this period – it helps you keep your physical and mental health. So, this weekend I decided to go for a long walk and to enjoy spring!
Where did I go?
Now, lockdown is lockdown. So I obviously did not go to the other side of the country – I just went for a walk on the riverbank. And I took a couple of photos (see one of them below). In the photo, you can see a small town called Visegrad and its castle on the top of the hill.
Interesting fact: this is the place where Vlad the Impaler (or more commonly known as Dracula) was held in captivity from 1463 to 1475. Now, I am not held in captivity and I can not call him one of my “ancestors” – our families are related but it’s not a big deal because most of Eastern European noble families are – but I still found walking on the riverbank pretty ironic, remembering that centuries ago, he was probably doing the same thing when they let him leave his prison cell.
Living in the moment
One of the things that I learnt these days is how important it is to live in the moment. We spend too much time on worrying about the future or blaming ourselves for every mistake we committed in the past – and while torturing ourselves with thoughts about our past and our future, we just simply forget to enjoy the moment.
The two main features of OCD are doubt and guilt. Doubt, accompanied by “what if” questions and worries about the future. And guilt over things you feel or things you did in the past.
And if you spend too much time obsessing over your “what if” questions, you will end up feeling guilty about wasting so much of your precious time on your worries (that’s what actually happened to me…). So it is like a vicious cycle that you can only break if you start living in the moment. It’s not easy but it’s a perfect time to start practicing!
You are stronger than you think!
People suffering from anxiety disorders tend to underestimate themselves. You may think that you would not be able to manage a difficult situation because you’re not strong enough. But why do you think you are not? Do you have any evidence or is it just what your negative inner voice is telling you?
Having a mental disorder is not a sign of weakness – it is something that you can learn from. And nowadays, I started seeing how many things I have learnt from having OCD. I really do not mean that OCD is something useful to have because it is clearly not. But during these days, I noticed that many of the techniques that I have learnt for keeping my OCD under control are helpful for a lot of people who do not actually have OCD but are scared to death because of the recent news. Am I better at managing my anxiety than most of the people? I would not say that, OCD is still OCD – but on the other hand, spending most of your life with terrifying intrusive thoughts gives you some experience at fighting it.
OCD is a liar
This is something that I have already known. But I thought the list would be incomplete without mentioning that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is telling you lies.
And with constant exposure to mainstream media & coronavirus news, it’s becoming more and more difficult to ignore the lies your OCD is telling you. Do not get me wrong, I do not say the media is lying – they may or may not, it’s something that I do not know – but one thing is sure: your OCD is definitely a liar.
You remember when you were scared of jumping off a bridge, beating up one of your loved ones, dying because of one of your nonexistent allergies or not loving your partner enough? Now, those were lies your OCD told you. And I do not think your OCD has changed over the last couple of weeks, so you should still watch out for the lies it is telling you. The challenge is now bigger than it has ever been: because the media will make it worse. So what could you do to make a difference between rational and irrational thoughts?
Now, obviously, the best way is seeing a therapist. And if you want to read more about the topic, please check out some of my previous posts with links to external resources:
Spending time alone is not always a bad thing
I used to be terribly afraid of spending time alone. It was one of my biggest fears because in my case, spending time alone would usually mean that I started thinking about my intrusive thoughts. More and more. And I would end up overthinking everything and being scared to death by my own intrusive thoughts.
So yes I have learnt that spending time alone is not always “dangerous”. But it does not mean that my personality has changed. I think humans are social creatures and I have always been an extrovert. So I just can not wait going out with people! 🙂
How to spend time while social distancing?
Everyone is different so the examples I give may not work for all of you but I hope you will find a few useful ideas 🙂
Learn a foreign language
Learning a foreign language takes some time – and it’s extremely fun. There are a lot of teachers who offer online classes and a lot of online resources.
As some of you may already know (How OCD frightened me into learning 7 languages?), I am addicted to learning languages and one of my favorite platforms for it is Interpals. It is an amazing online community where you can meet people who speak the languages you would like to learn and you can do “language exchange” with them. I first registered on Interpals 11 years ago (time is flying, is it not?) and it actually helped me find a lot of new friends – with most of them, I also met in person and still keep in touch even after so many years! 🙂
Or if you prefer to language on your own, I think Drops is a pretty nice application for you! It’s a really fun way to learn a new language 🙂
Since the first day of the lockdown, I have started learning Turkish and improving my German skills (I do speak German, but my grammar is definitely not the best).
Read a book
Reading has always been one of my biggest hobbies. A few weeks ago, I published a post about my favorite books – and I guess some of them are not the “most cheerful” but I just like “darker” books.
Escaping Reality: My 10 Favorite Books
And what I could still recommend to most of my readers is:
Agatha Christie novels – there are a lot of them, most of them are pretty short – so perfect for one evening. And they have a pretty nice atmosphere – I know this did not sound right as people actually get murdered in her books but for some reason her stories are not at all discomforting.
Exercise is important for everyone. I enjoy running and walking but I guess it’s different for everyone.
Watch a movie!
I am simply addicted to watching movies! And it would be next to impossible to give you a list of my favorite movies – and even if I gave you one, it would probably not be the best for relaxation 🙂 Guess my number one favorite is “The Shining” but I do not think it’s the best movie to watch at times of social distancing. But I do have a couple of favorite movies that I would recommend to you because they are pretty “relaxing”. You know, the kind of movies that you can really watch before going to sleep:
I have always loved drawing and you really do not have to be an artist to enjoy doing it. Coloring books are just perfect for spending time while social distancing.
Call your loved ones
Social distancing does not need to mean complete isolation. If you are suffering from a mental disorder, social media is definitely not a place of comfort (if you are not scared of the current situation, just check your Facebook feed and you will be scared to death!) but you can still call your friends/ family. I guess my phone bill will be record high this month 🙂
And a lot more
How did you spend your last few days? Share some ideas in the comment section! 🙂
- Lessons from Lockdown – Facing Your Demons
- OCD & Coronavirus: Confessions of an Anxious Mind
- OCD: Living a Hell of Uncertainty
- 9 things you should not say to someone with OCD
- In the prison of your own mind: Responsibility OCD
Keep Calm & Take Care!
It’s been a pretty difficult period for all of us. Some of us are worried our health or our loved ones. Some of us are worried about money or our jobs. Some of us feel isolated because of the lockdown. But there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. Keep calm and take care!