Personal Blog: My Journey with Long COVID - by S.M
As part of our COVID Wellbeing NI campaign, AWARE volunteer and MSc Counselling Studies & Health Communication Student at Ulster University, S.M tells us about her experiences with Long COVID...
On 2nd January 2021, I began to feel those dreaded symptoms and after a few days, got the test and yes, I was COVID positive. It’s now the middle of May and I continue to suffer what is recognised as ‘long COVID’: pins and needles in my arms and legs, a locked neck, fatigue, and a brain that seems in a permanently drugged state. Outwardly, I look absolutely fine but inwardly it has been a very different story. I have had to take time off work, put my studies on hold, and overall life has had to slow down, indeed quite dramatically.
Yet, somehow, deep within I have not lost hope, and AWARE has helped me to discover coping tools that work for me. I take a walk each day, even if I now walk at a pace that my elderly mother used to take. My favourite place is the beach at home. It awakens beautiful memories and fills me with inner peace and strength. Listening to the waves, feeling the warmth of the sand, surrounded by beauty, I find myself awed and calmed by the miracle of nature.
What works for one may not work for another but here are some of the ways I seek to find positivity in my life:
- Being there for someone else who may at times be feeling down or lonely helps me feel good about myself too.
- I have discovered that what I eat can also affect how I feel. It can affect my energy and mood swings. I realise that if I eat less junk, I feel less bloated, I sleep much better and I feel better mentally.
- I know that my daily walk helps to improve a feeling of well-being.
- I find that because of lockdown and long COVID, I am spending a lot more time on the internet so I try to limit this.
Here are a few links that have helped me, which I’d like to share with you:
To overcome adversity I love Jack Kavanagh’s talk about fighting or giving up and how he learnt to just breathe. Watch it here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMvMW6YNXxI
I also discovered Mindfulness and find that this 10-minute session helps to reduce my anxiety. You may find it helps you too: www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-6f5wQXSu8
There are other times that I feel incredibly lonely, where I feel that no one really understands and I also do not always want to feel like talking. When this is the case I find that listening to this helps: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dvr9dLCqzow
What helps most of all is talking to a friend who listens, a beach walk or a walk by the river, time with my dog or checking in with AWARE’s website and social media. There is always something positive to be found there. Talking to others affirms that I am not the only one, we all have up and down days and that is OKAY. When we are aware of the health of our minds, when we prioritise it and actively reach out when we need to, we can positively change the way we think and feel.