Most days I go to bed at 21.00. I read a few pages in my book and fall asleep, waking up nine hours later with a body that does not feel rested at all. Since March 2020 I have not woken up a single morning feeling that I have energy in my body. It’s just not there in the way it used to before I got covid. But every day I go up and go about my day in the best way that I can. Nowadays I work fulltime, I take care of some essential stuff in the house, I watch a bit of TV and then go to bed again. Sometimes I do something fun outside the house on an evening or a weekend but that often means needing several days afterwards to ‘recover’ from energy-wise. But you know what? A part of me is so incredibly happy with this way of living, it’s crazy.
Well, I still vividly remember not having the energy to walk to my mailbox, or from my couch to my kitchen to brew some tea. I still remember elderly people with their strollers passing me in the park months later when I could expand my world a bit beyond my house. I remember having difficulty creating a coherent sentence in my head and hallucinating when waking up because of what I called corona brain. And what I will never ever forget is the feeling of almost dying because I suddenly had an elephant sitting on my lungs.
But even though I feel happy and tremendously grateful that I’m doing so much better nowadays, I cannot help but also looking at my situation at the moment and both wondering but also worrying: is this my ‘new normal’ for the rest of my life? I’ve been living with the effects of Long Covid now for 2 years and 9 months. And yes I am feeling so much better on so many levels, but this energy-thing (combined with persistent chest-pain) still just does not want to clear up entirely. I’ve come to a space in myself where I accept this but also I notice that I often pretend that it doesn’t exist anymore. My truth is that I’m still not completely healthy yet and I’ve come to a point where it feels important to write this down.
I see many people around me accepting the longer-term effects of covid. So many people are more tired than they used to be, they still can’t taste or smell properly, they have chest pains or other remaining covid symptoms. And many of us go about our days pretty much pretending that we don’t feel this way anymore even though it’s been months and for some people like me: several years. Why do we do this? I believe part of the answer is that we’re all just sick and tired of being sick and tired. I know I am, for sure. And because we get by, we can work, we can function in society, it’s just easier to pretend we’re fine. I know I’m talking for other people now so let me take it back to my own experience: this is how I feel. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired and 99% of the time nowadays I choose not to share with other people on how I’m really doing. Also because I fear people are tired of hearing from me about this. I imagine people thinking: there she is again, all she can talk about is Long Covid.
I believe few people at my current work know that I wake up (by the end of a work week especially) not knowing how I can muster up the energy in my body to get through the day. So I pretend that all is fine and go about my work day. I’m quite good at pretending I’m full of energy at work (at least that’s what I like to believe). While the truth is that I usually have just about enough energy to get through my meetings and the work I have to do and then I crash on my couch for the remaining time of that day. It’s been like this for a really long time now.
How fun a wife does this make me? How fun a mum, how fun a friend? I worry about that and in my darkest moments I fear ending up alone because of this. It so happens that my husband feels pretty much the same as me since the summer of 2021 when the vaccine totally screwed with his body (weirdly enough, as the vaccine helped my body greatly). So we are this tired married couple nowadays – trying to do the best we can to make the best of the situation together and for ourselves. We each have our own coping mechanisms and we try to meet in the middle as best as we can. My husband and I basically live like elderly people while in our 40’s. I feel it’s tearing at us. It would be strange if it wouldn’t. But we’re hanging in there, talking to each other, supporting each other where we can.
Pretending something is a certain way while it is not… this is not the way I want to live. Perhaps that’s the reason I haven’t written for quite some time: I haven’t wanted to truly face and be honest about the way things really are in my life at the moment. I’ve felt such a barrier to write for a long time, it’s been quite interesting to observe this inside myself.
I’m reading an amazing book at the moment: Wintering by Katherine May. It became popular during the pandemic and I understand why. This morning I read:
Plants and animals don’t fight the winter; they don’t pretend it’s not happening and attempt to carry on living the same lives that they lived in the summer. They prepare. They adapt. They perform extraordinary acts of metamorphosis to get them through.
This is so true! I love when writers connect the way nature works to us human beings. The book Wintering is about the power of rest and retreat in difficult times. It’s a verb, wintering, and what Katherine writes inspires me:
Wintering brings about some of the most profound and insightful moments of our human experience, and wisdom resides in those who have wintered.
I fully agree with this. Looking back at the Corona Chronicles I wrote: the amount of things I’ve learned about life and myself… I really feel it gave me more depth as a human being and I therefore wouldn’t want to undo it even though I am still feeling the way I am these days.
What I need right now is to reclaim my own wintering. To stand fully in my truth: I have been wintering since March 2020 and I am still wintering today. And that is OK. Instead of pretending I’m summering (is that a verb too?) I accept that I’m wintering. The snow outside my window helps greatly as a reminder. This is my truth right now and I don’t want to worry anymore about what other people might think when I write about Long Covid and being tired again, for the millionth time.
There – just writing this helps me greatly and makes me breathe just a little bit easier. I feel just a tiny bit more space in my body and it’s easier to feel the ground beneath my feet. And that’s what it’s all about for me: being present with what is and accepting it. Staying aware and awake in life. Creating space and grounding in my body. Connecting to feeling grateful for the experience of being alive, whatever way that feels and looks like. Remembering that nothing is fixed and forever, everything is always moving and changing. After winter comes spring.
This is me, walking my path. Thank you for joining me here!
With love ♥️
Photo: Aaron Burden – unsplash.com