It was quiet and soft and patient in the way it crept in. It was like the mute stretching of shadows as the sun went down and painted the world purplish-blue. It was insidious and fine and gossamer-light. One day, you'd be fine, and the next, you'd notice that things haven't been quite right for a long, long time.
While its origination was slow and subtle, the realisation was swift and terrible. It was the dark understanding that you haven't touched that doorknob with your bare palm in months. It was the shadowed knowledge that you ignored the ritual and were fine until you noticed. It was the black realisation that your shoulders have been hunched and the skin of your hands are cracked and dry and you have't taken a proper breath in days.
It was poison.
It was, quite simply, horrible.
And, while one may write or speak about it in the past tense, with some dull notion that it was somehow easier that way, it would never be anything other than hideously, constantly, persistently present.
It was something dark and grey in your veins, clinging sharply to the inner walls and gasping for your notice. It was in the pockets of the marrow of your bones, centred most thickly in the fine bones of your wrists and hands. It was in the deeply-worn creases of your overwashed, overdried, overlamented palms.
It was different for everyone, manifesting as counting and washing and coping and screaming and coping and screaming and coping and screaming and screaming and screaming and screaming.
It was a monster with endless jaws and teeth and whispers. Something that was okay one day was horrible the next. Something that you hadn't noticed yesterday was wrong today.
It was a battle you constantly lost, a problem you hated endlessly.
It was—it is—winning. And one day, lungs burned by bleach and skin washed down the drain of the bathroom sink and tear tracks etched into your face after all these disordered years, it would win.