Somebody recently asked me a few specific questions about my experience with Long Covid and I suddenly heard myself answer her: I believe Long Covid is one of the biggest gifts of my life. Just so you know, I totally understand if you find this statement offensive or provocative especially if you are ill yourself. But I really, truly, honestly and deeply mean it. This is my attempt to describe why I feel this way, and at the same time dig a bit deeper into the questions I was asked.
When the coronavirus entered my system almost six months ago, I immediately felt that something foreign (almost alien) had invaded my body. I know how it feels to have the flu, I know how it feels to have a throat infection, or a fever, migraine, etc. This felt different. It felt like a violent storm, hurricane even, that swept through my whole body and killed whatever it could on the way. It disrupted the autonomic functions of my body like my breathing, heart rate and digestion, as well as the way my brain works (Corona Brain is real!). I did not recognize myself anymore at all and instead of a few weeks of being severely ill, it lasted for months on end. So how do I deal with this, I was asked. Well, the first and foremost thing that came to me from the very beginning was this:
Accept that this is happening to you right now.
And I don’t mean accept it like a nice thought you can have in your mind, but truly accept it and feel this acceptance in your body. Totally accepting my situation felt like the only smart thing to do because my reality was that it was happening to me and I needed energy to deal with this and not waste it on fighting the reality of the present moment.
The second thing was:
Turn your focus inwards and become aware of what’s going on inside you.
As soon as I did this, I noticed that I had a lot (A LOT) of feelings and sensations in my body. And they were not ‘nice’. At all. When I had difficulty to breathe, formulate a sentence or even just sit up straight, I was so incredibly scared. The fear of dying or having Corona Brain and/or my fatigue turn into chronic condition(s) was gigantic. I have also been so freakin’ sad, I don’t know how many hours I have cried. I have been angry and anxious. Numb. Collapsed. And about a thousand other things.
An interesting thing happened when I allowed myself to have all these feelings and sensations in my body and gave them all the space they needed at the moment. It was this: I became aware of something deeper inside me that could observe all of this happening. It’s difficult to describe with words exactly how this awareness feels. The words that come to me are: calm, strong (in a relaxed way), grounded, stable and resilient. There are other words for this as well: Presence, Essence, Your True Self, etc. To feel this so clearly inside my body and throughout my whole Being truly is the most amazing feeling!
There was a third thing that came to me too:
Be compassionate with yourself.
I felt so strongly, for the first time in my life really, that this was the time to be extremely kind to myself. So, gone was the impulse to please other people. Gone were the endless ToDo’s on my list. And most importantly: I kicked Lennart (the voice of my mind)’s *** like I’ve never done before because this was NOT the time for a critical voice inside my head, constantly having opinions on everything that I am doing wrong in my life. So I allowed myself to watch endless Netflix. To ask for help. To have breakdowns on and off. To meditate. And have 100% focus on my body and what it needed. I felt like I was sitting in the middle of the hurricane, making a meditation out of it. Minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, week by week and month by month, riding out the storm. And here I am, almost six months later. Still vibrating inside from everything that’s happened, but I’m here, the hurricane has passed and replaced itself for what today feels like a more natural flow of ups and downs in life.
Acceptance, Awareness and Compassion. These were the three things that got me through the hurricane that is Long Covid.
I was also asked what I believe this virus can teach us, both as individuals and as a global population. Here is my answer: I believe covid-19 can be a Master Teacher for everyone who feels a strong desire (like me) to live their life to the fullest. To truly ‘be alive’, you could say. To wake up. However this requires, I believe, a willingness (and courage) to go inwards and be curious to explore one’s inner world, feel into the body and face stuff that might not feel so ‘pleasant’ at times. It also requires, I believe, a courage to be vulnerable. To ‘be real’. I’m sure this is not for everyone and for many people this will require body-oriented/holistic therapy. Fortunately for me I have spent quite some years already on this path under the guidance of world-renowned holistic therapists from all over the world. I’m convinced that this has helped me greatly in dealing with the mental and spiritual challenges that Long Covid causes.
I hope that covid-19 can activate more awareness and aliveness in a growing number of people on this earth. As a global population, I believe we need to collectively wake up. To realize that we are so focused on external things which we believe will make us happy, that we are so distracted by the noise that surrounds us, that it seems to me that we almost have forgotten how to be human. Like we live our lives while being asleep. This global pandemic is such an opportunity for us to raise our awareness and also unite as human beings on this planet, but so far I have seen little evidence of this actually happening on a scale that I believe is needed.
I was also asked how I deal with uncertainty and a lack of control in my life. Well, I feel that ‘living’ automatically means uncertainty and lack of control. I believe we human beings are great in convincing ourselves that we have control in our lives. But do we, really? Look at covid-19, it completely disrupted life on this earth on so many levels. Deep down I think everyone knows that it’s impossible to avoid uncertainty and lack of control in life, but it seems to me like so many of us are trying to cling to the notion that our lives are certain and in control. Why do we do that? I believe because the feeling of being out of control scares us and we don’t know how to deal with that fear. But what would happen if we would find a way to go beyond that fear? To observe it for what it is (a feeling, most likely connected to something that has happened to us in the past) and come to realize that it is possible to live from a space of what you could call “basic trust” in life. I believe this is possible, but again: only if we are willing to go inside ourselves and raise our awareness about what’s going on in our bodies and our minds. And again: you might very well need some professional guidance in how to do this.
When I write all of this, I am acutely aware of my own privilege. I do not live in Lebanon, Malawi or below the poverty line in the US for example, and I am convinced that I will regain my full health again. I struggle with this sometimes: like I almost feel that I can’t write these things because I’m too privileged. But then I come back to the realization that this is my life. This is my experience of living on this earth. These are my feelings about living and the insights I am gaining on my path. And they are valid too and are allowed to have a space. So here I am, behind my laptop in my house in the suburbs of Stockholm, Sweden.
Today I find myself in a space of reflection. I feel I need more time to digest everything that’s happened to me since I got covid-19 as well as give my body what it needs to restore itself completely as I’m still not 100% ‘there’ physically. I also feel incredibly alive! There is energy flowing through my body again, healthy energy. And I feel a deep, deep gratitude for life. I am so incredibly grateful to be alive on this earth today! That covid-19 did not kill me, that I am still around, regaining my health and can enjoy the richness of life. Waking up besides my husband every day, sharing my life with him still after 25 years (we met when I was 17). Seeing our teenagers grow into adulthood and supporting them on their path in life. Connecting with my friends and parents. Walking in the woods every day. Drinking tea. Reading a book. Eating good food. And also: living in a free country where there is no war or real poverty. I feel an enormous gratitude and calmness about my life and fully trust (and follow) my intuition on my path. Living My Truth – I am really doing that every day, and it works!
I believe it was Oprah Winfrey who said:
Turn your wounds
Long Covid gives everyone the perfect opportunity to do just that, I believe. It has given me wisdom, for sure! And not the kind of wisdom that you read about in a book and reflect upon in your mind. No, I mean the kind of wisdom that can be felt throughout the whole body. That feels integrated and true and brings with it a feeling of lightness and joy. With this gift of Long Covid now in my life, I can’t wait to see what will happen next…
So: to be continued!
With love ♥
Photo: Jay Castor – unsplash.com
This writing is part of what I call my Corona Chronicles. On this page you can find an overview of my stories since March 2020.
Ook al heb ik je nooit ontmoet you feel dear to me. Dank je wel voor het weer zo rijkelijk delen van je mooie hart en pad. Ik moest ervan huilen, van deze blog. Van de herkenning, de Hoop die ik proef en het verlangen dat werd aangewakkerd: verlangen om verder te helen en écht te leven…er is een Weg.
Dear Danielle, wat een lief bericht, dankjewel! Het blijft bijzonder vind ik, dat we ons verbonden voelen met elkaar zonder dat we elkaar ooit hebben ontmoet! Lieve groet uit Stockholm ♥