Dealing with OCD in a COVID world


Purell, GermX and all those hand sanitizers that became vogue in the early 2000s were the last temptation of Sue Lyons.

For her, they were poison.

At the time, friends and family knew Lyons as a “neatnik” and a “clean freak.” But only a scarce few realized she battled a mental illness, a contamination obsessive compulsive disorder.

Her irrational fear of contamination — mostly of making others sick — had long ago forced her to quit a job as a registered nurse. Lyon’s OCD was the reason she’d clean the steering wheel in her car; wrap her used tissue inside a clean one before throwing it away; panic when she had to cook with eggs, pork or poultry, to the point she couldn’t even be in the kitchen to watch her then-teenage daughter prepare a meal with a new pasta-maker.

Lyons is better now, some 20 years later.

But not cured.

Her OCD behaviors were largely in remission. But life in a COVID-19 world the past eight months has been a challenge. She’s caught herself slipping back into a few of her old thoughts.