Our minds are funny things. When we have a chance to win a fabulous trip, we think, “There’s NO way I’ll win.” But, if it’s something bad – like COVID-19 – we think, “I’m definitely going to the hospital and maybe even worse.”
At least, that’s how my mind worked when I tested positive in December. The mental side of COVID-19 was the most surprising part of our family’s journey.
When I got my test result, I sat on the floor and cried. The three Christmases we had planned were out the window, my youngest son’s “golden birthday” would be spent at home, and my family was at risk. Given my exposure circumstances, it wasn’t anything I did wrong, but I was still the one who brought this into our house.
All of that was weighty enough. I started to feel sick and lost my taste smell. Then, I decided it was a good idea to take a deep dive in to what happens when you lose two of your five senses. Don’t do that!
In the meantime, my husband tested positive. His mental health wasn’t in a great place because he assumed the worst would happen. If you can’t sleep because your mind is on overdrive, it’s tough to heal.
Then, our eight-year-old son tested positive. When we told him the results of his test, he spent an hour huddled under a blanket. He told me he had a headache for a few days but now that he has COVID, it’s seemed worse. Our youngest son never tested positive.
Our family was impacted for nearly a month with various isolation and quarantine lengths. So, what did we learn about the mental side of COVID?
Talk to your doctor
With all the misinformation on the internet, talk to your doctor. We did. They assessed our personal risk and told us what symptoms to watch for. With the kids, our pediatrician took us through the statistics of negative outcomes in kids. All of their insight was incredibly helpful and started to put our fears into perspective by using data.
Recognize there will be a mental side
How could there not, right? This pandemic affected every facet of our lives. Case counts, death tolls, everyone’s opinion all over social media, the political bickering about COVID – it’s tough to get away from all of those things.
We’re a family who rarely has the news on. I read current events from three different sources to get a balanced view. Even with that conscious curating, images of body bags and sick people flooded my mind when I tested positive. Combat this by talking to your doctor and educating yourself with facts, not opinions.
“Two things prevent us from happiness; living in the past and observing others.”
I recently saw that quote and it was good advice for our COVID journey. Carrying the guilt of being the person who infected my family wasn’t going to do them or me any good. Observing others on social? Not a good plan, especially when you’re home sick for Christmas. I stayed away!
Feel the feelings
Yes, we are very thankful our COVID journey ended well. We didn’t infect any of our friends or family and the physical effects are nearly gone (my taste and smell is almost normal!). That isn’t the case for many. But, it’s still okay to feel the feelings – anger, grief, resentment, fear. Once they’re felt, letting them go and focusing on the good helped us move forward.
Your backyard, walking around the block, sitting on your front porch – even a few minutes outside will help reset and refresh your mind.