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I feel like I’m dying, I can barely breath, and my lungs are closing in on themselves. That feeling is what I deal with each and every time I am inside a building, even if there is plenty of air available. My Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) has found a new way to control my life, one that I didn’t see coming. Breathing is necessary to live, so I have no idea how to fight back.

I’ve always liked cold, crisp air better than a hot and humid day. The air feels refreshing, and seems to be pure and chills the lungs. Humidity is clammy, and seems to stick to everything, feeling like trying to breath through a damp rag. Naturally, I’ve always loved winter and air conditioning, with the summer air being avoided as much as possible. With the new twist in my OCD, humidity now feels like suffocation, like the air is a hand covering my mouth, and I have to breath in with all of my might to get enough air in around the clamped hand.

In addition, my issue with humidity has combined with my issue with germs to create the highest suffocation feeling yet. I fear being contaminated with others people’s germs, especially germs in the mouth. Breathing involves air going through the mouth (or nose) some of the time, which means that there are germs from the mouth being exhaled into the air, the very same air that I’m breathing in.

Outside, the germs exhaled is able to dissipate in the vast volume of air, so I will take in minimal germs. Indoors, the air is trapped, and I’m breathing in the germs of whoever I’m near. If you’ve ever had the joy of breathing in the air that someone just exhaled, it feels kind of humid (since it came from a wet mouth). We literally breath in all of the millions of germs and food particles that other people exhale, constantly, whenever we are inside.

My brain decided to try to protect me from the bacteria onslaught by constricting my lungs, so I take in about as little air as possible without passing out. Since I play French Horn, having little air flow creates an issue when I’m trying to play (especially fully or for a long time without a breath). I try to take a bigger breath, but my OCD freaks out about the germs I’m taking in, especially since in band we are all breathing through our mouths.

How am I supposed to fight my OCD when I have become afraid of inside air? What will I do if it gets worse? I can’t not breath, I wouldn’t last very long. I also can’t avoid buildings, especially when it’s so cold (and I won’t go outside in the summer anyways).

I know I have to put myself in crowded situations where a lot of people are breathing a small amount of air, but that sounds absolutely terrifying. I’d rather hold my breath until I pass out over and over again instead of doing that.

However, avoiding the fear will only cause it to get worse, and to interfere with my life more than being a very uncomfortable sensation throughout my day. I will fight for having air just be air to my brain instead of a germ infested gas of death, and someday I will get there. Not today, and probably not anytime soon, but I will get to air just being air.

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