Having COVID & How I Worked Through Anxious Moments



If you follow me on social media, you probably already know that me and my family got COVID back at Thanksgiving. And I want to share my experience with having COVID because I know that lots of people have anxiety surrounding the virus and I think that sharing my experience and also what I learned along the way will be helpful.

And I’ll be honest, I’ve been very hesitant to share my journey with COVID, especially on social media, because I don’t want to cause anyone any increased anxiety. While I know that lots of what I share in this episode will be helpful, I also recognize that it may be triggering to some. So if you’re feeling like you just aren’t ready for this episode, that’s okay. Hit pause now and come back to it when you feel it’s right for you. And if you don’t hit play on this episode, it’s absolutely okay. Don’t beat yourself up! Know that you’re making the best and right decision for you.

GETTING THE COVID VACCINE

Like lots of people, I was pretty hesitant about getting the vaccine. And you might already know this, but I actually work in the healthcare field and have for over 15 years. And I currently manage an OB/GYN practice. And where we live, health care workers, among many other first responders, have been mandated to get the vaccine.

And like lots of people, I wanted to make sure that I was well informed about the vaccine, the potential side effects, and hey, I’m human. I also wanted to wait just to make sure that it wasn’t causing long-term effects. So after waiting a little bit and doing my research, I got the vaccine last summer. Adam, on the other hand, got the vaccine as soon as he was able to at the beginning of 2021. But waiting just felt right for me. And when I finally did it, I felt good about it.


And although I’m vaccinated, I’m well aware that you can still get the virus. So like many others, I, of course, had some anxiety about potentially getting COVID. And even though Adam and I are both vaccinated, we have continued to mask while in public and practice other safety measures since Amelia is only 3-years-old and isn’t yet able to be vaccinated. The anxiety that I felt was truly centered around the fact that there are so many unknowns. I would have thoughts like… What will happen if I or Adam or Amelia gets it? Will we be okay? Will we have to go to the hospital? You know, all perfectly human responses surround getting COVID. And if you’re a parent, you know how hard it is to see your child sick, never mind with a virus like COVID.


MY WHOLE FAMILY BEING DIAGNOSED WITH COVID


Of course Amelia was the first to show symptoms! She woke up in the middle of the night, crying, and sounding congested. And I honestly just thought, oh no, she has a cold. And then the next day my husband said that he wasn’t feeling well. They were both congested, tired, and had runny noses. Then the next day Adam woke up feeling even worse so he went and got tested, and his test came back positive. It was two days after Adam became symptomatic that I started to experience similar symptoms and so I went and got tested the following day and sure enough tested positive.

Luckily through the entire experience, none of us developed a temperature or experienced any issues with our breathing. And Amelia was pretty much herself outside of being more tired than usual and being congested for a couple of weeks. We gave her Advil a couple of times but that was it. And unlike Adam and I, she was lucky and didn’t lose her sense of taste or smell!

Adam’s symptoms pretty much stayed the same and carried on for a little over a week and then he started to improve with lots of water and over the counter cold medications. I, on the other hand, developed pretty severe chest congestion and a cough. It felt like a bad chest cold. And when my symptoms weren’t improving, I found myself Googling, even though I knew that Googling would do nothing but cause me to feel more anxious. So on day 5 of being symptomatic, rather than Googling some more, I reached out to my doctor to discuss my symptoms. I have a history of pneumonia and I was concerned by the chest pressure and pain that I was experiencing, that I now know was due to inflammation from the virus.

After talking with my doctor, she prescribed me antibiotics and steroids. Luckily the medications helped. And I am so glad that I called her because she was so helpful and reassuring. She explained that what I was experiencing was not uncommon and that the symptoms would slowly improve. And they did, with lots of rest. I wasn’t able to exercise for over a month, and I’m just now slowly getting back into my everyday exercise routine.

I’m going to be really honest, there were a few moments where I was really concerned and felt scared. There were moments when I questioned whether or not I was actually improving, or if things would get worse. There were moments when I questioned whether or not I should go to the hospital. There were moments when I thought… What if my breathing becomes affected? There were tears, lots of overwhelm, and frustration.

WORKING THROUGH FEELING ANXIOUS WHILE HAVING COVID

I focused lots on the things that I have control of. Because the reality is, there are always many uncertainties present and things that we don’t have control of. There are uncertainties surrounding getting the vaccine, getting the virus, what the outcome will be, and the list goes on. And unfortunately we can’t solve for these uncertainties. So like many other things in life, it’s much more beneficial and helpful to focus on what we have control of.

Because when it comes down to it, where you choose to put your focus drives how you feel.

So I slowed down and I focused on the basics. I drank lots of water, mostly hot water or tea. I rested. I took lots of warm, steamy showers. I asked for help and support. I soaked up the moments that I don’t get very often. Moments where me, Adam, and Amelia are all together without work or life being in the middle.

I focused on allowing myself to feel what I was feeling when I felt it rather than trying to push the feelings away. When I felt scared, I allowed myself to just feel it. When I felt upset, I allowed myself to cry. I shared how I felt and I asked for support rather than trying to act like I was fine.

And when I caught myself thinking about the clouds or mights, like if I’d have to go to the hospital, or if my breathing would become affected, I chose to acknowledge that I couldn’t solve for things that weren’t happening. And I chose to stay in the present moment by getting present. I moved my body in the small ways that I was able to. I did some yoga with Amelia. I read. I watched TV (like way too much TV). I listened to music and podcasts. I wrote. We went for drives to nowhere!

I continued to choose to not try to figure anything out and instead chose to get present. Did it always work? Nope! But I continue to choose taking healthy action over allowing myself to ruminate.

I also spent time practicing gratitude. I would literally walk around my house or stand in the shower and say out loud, to my body… Thank you for taking care of me. Thank you, lungs, for supporting me through this. Thank you, heart, for continuing to do an amazing job to support me. I appreciate my body supporting me and getting me through this. I appreciate my body keeping me healthy and safe. And I’d do this while putting my hand on my chest and over my heart.

Yup, call me crazy, but practicing gratitude like this out loud is something that has helped me tremendously over the years. It’s not only a great mindfulness practice that helps me to get present, but it also allows me to recognize the many truths and simple things that we often lose sight of. Things like our health and our body’s amazing way of supporting us even through sickness and hard times.

A FEW POWERFUL TRUTHS FOR WHEN UNCERTAINTIES ARE PRESENT

It’s important to acknowledge that you’re often having a very human response to things. When you struggle with an anxiety disorder, you often convince yourself that you shouldn’t be responding in the way that you are, in other words, you convince yourself that you shouldn't be feeling anxious. It’s like you hold yourself to an unrealistic expectation because if you feel anxious, it somehow means that you aren’t healing. Quick note, feeling anxious doesn’t mean that you aren’t healing. The truth is, it’s totally natural to feel anxious about lots of things, especially about something like COVID.

And this leads really well into the next truth…

It’s okay to feel anxious and it’s okay to feel scared. It’s natural to feel anxious and scared at times. Allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling when you feel it because it’ll help you to process the emotions and move past them more quickly and with less tension. And don’t try to figure out why, or how to make it stop, or find meaning in it. Just allow yourself to feel it and then take healthy action so that you can move on!

You choose where you put your focus. So the next time your mind wants to wander off into the land of coulds or mights, choose to stay present. Don’t try to solve or figure anything out. And yes, this is hard, but you’ll get better at it with practice.

And trust me, I know how hard it is to not Google things, especially while you’re struggling, but it’ll be so much more helpful for you to get off of Google and instead choose to get present or call your doctor if you’re truly concerned. Because the truth is, Google can’t give you the answers that you’re seeking, and it sure as heck can’t solve for uncertainties.

And the most important one… Yes, there are always uncertainties present in life, but there are uncertainties present every single day and you typically thrive even when they’re present. Don’t forget that even really good things happen even when there are uncertainties present. Uncertainty doesn’t automatically equal bad, and it especially doesn’t equal worst case scenario.

IF YOU STRUGGLE WITH HEALTH ANXIETY…

If you struggle with health anxiety, I know that COVID has likely added more anxiety and layers to your already overwhelming struggle. So I’ll be releasing a special episode later this week on health anxiety. In the episode, I interview Lily from Peace From Within, and it’s an amazing one! And she actually shares some of her own journey with having COVID. Make sure to check it out because she provides some very practical and actionable steps that you can take that will help you heal.

Alright, until next time, friend, keep taking healthy action!

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Shannon Jackson