Updated: May 11
I normally write blogs to share mental health research, information, and relevant issues. Looking at how we can continue to make strides in promoting awareness while decreasing the stigma.
Instead, I am writing to you as a mental health professional who experienced COVID-19 and the impact it had on my mental health – the stuff we don’t hear about.
When the words appeared on my phone, “you are positive for COVID… along with several links on how to self-isolate safely” instantly, I felt scared, worried, anxious, and became flooded with fear.
But worse.. I felt shameful. Prior to my diagnosis, I did not know anyone personally who was diagnosed with COVID-19 – I was the first. I became embarrassed because I was “infected” with this horrible virus that has shut down the world. How could I, someone who is cautious, have contracted the virus?
Even though my symptoms were mild in nature, I experienced the side effects of COVID that no one tells you about. I was locked up in my house with my family – isolating. Groceries, supplies, even pet food had to be delivered to my door step.
When I say step, I mean 10 feet down my step because those who were delivering my items were scared to be around me in fear that I would give them COVID.
This made me feel dirty and contaminated. Being locked up in my home disconnected from life started to get to me where I exhibited frustration, vulnerability and sadness. I had zero control over anything. Trying to understand the changes and navigate the unexpected difficulties caused an increase in stress and anxiety.
During the 24 days in lock down, my mental health took a toll. I am usually a social person who enjoys visiting with people and very passionate about my job. Not having any type of social activity made me angry, irritable, low in energy, I didn't have an appetite because of my mood, I was unable to sleep, moody and highly anxious.
My mind would race about how to keep my son who has chronic health problems safe from the virus. I had to constantly remind myself to implement the CBT strategies I teach my clients.
I started to become short tempered with those around me, which was when I knew I was not okay and that I needed to start to change my habits. These were my warning signs telling me that I needed to develop some coping strategies before I went deeper.
I started to use self-talk to push myself to maintain a routine.
A few weeks in, I began to set my alarm to wake up at the same time each day and try to enjoy a healthy breakfast with my coffee. Each morning, I would make a goal that I needed to achieve in both the house and outside in the yard. I encouraged myself to spend at least one hour outside with my animals each day in order to boost my mood. I used positive affirmations and a social media detox to keep my mind away from the ever-changing news.
Lastly, I used my peer supports to lean on and mild exercise when I was feelings as though I was emotionally drowning.
COVID is a terrifying unknown.
The impact on each person varies, but it is my hope that by sharing this with you that you will be aware of the signs and feel okay to reach out for support and how to support those we love.
Working through these emotions and feelings will help you become resilient. We are all in this together! #endstigma
Much love, Jenna
Jenna is on the Farah Kurji Counselling Team. We are grateful that she is healed and back to work now. You can book with her HERE or learn more about here HERE . She welcomes your inquires and is happy to support you through these changing times.