Read about our new wellbeing website and how Gosia (co-founder of Wellbeing in Your Office) still lives with long term symptoms of COVID-19.
We launched our brand new website wellbeinginyouroffice.com last week! Yay! We are so happy to be finally able to share the ‘fruits of our labour’ with all of you. Our offering is now expanded and now includes new workplace wellbeing courses, including office yoga classes, mental health courses, Ayurveda, nutrition advice, mindfulness meditation and massage. We have also been offering online yoga classes via zoom several times a week since the beginning of the lockdown, and they are still going strong.
The work on the website started shortly before the COVID-19 lockdown. We thought that it will probably take a few weeks, 3-4 tops, to finalise it. How wrong were we??? 12 weeks later and here we are.
We wanted to share with you all the reasons why it has taken us this time to get it all up and running. It all started with our trip to northern Italy at the beginning of February. If somebody made a movie about this holiday, it would probably be a ‘disease-thriller’ type. It would show invisible particles of COVID-19 swirling in the air around us, while we were enjoying eating pizzas and gelatos, or while we were leisurely walking around little quaint towns in Lombardy and mingling with thousands of Italians and other tourists in Venice, Verona and around Lake Garda. There would be tense music playing in the background. People watching it would be thinking: ‘Get out of there’, ‘You’re in danger’! The holiday was really lovely, but little did we know what was around the corner.
Exactly two weeks from our return from Italy our daughter, Sophia, got really ill and ended up in hospital. The diagnosis was not COVID-19, she was not even tested at that point despite having the typical symptoms (even though we insisted several times). In the meantime, both Zach (our co-founder and my partner) and I also got ill. We were feeling dreadful, barely summoning up the energy to share the responsibility of looking after Sophia while she was in hospital for nearly two weeks.
There were several symptoms that did not add up to the usual cold. Zach recovered after a few weeks without any major long term effects. My illness went on for many weeks afterwards.
The loss of taste and smell
After a few weeks I went to see a doctor again and my GP confirmed that without shadow of a doubt this has been Coronavirus (despite the fact I have not had the actual test). He said he has seen many people with lingering symptoms like mine. Medically, there was nothing wrong with me at that point, and my blood results came back all fine.
The loss of taste and smell was a very debilitating symptom and like nothing I have experienced before. Of course, over the years I had various coughs and colds, when I temporarily lost my sense of taste and smell, but it was nothing compared to this overwhelming dullness. Everything tasted of nothing and even the action of eating itself felt very odd. I did not enjoy the food I was eating, and I was forcing myself to do it. This went on for weeks.
The effect on my mental health
COVID-19 affected my mental health very badly and my anxiety hit the roof during the lockdown. It was all exacerbated by the unpredictability of the symptoms that kept coming and going without any warning. On one hand I was glad I did not have to leave the house feeling like this, but on the other it all felt very claustrophobic, and not knowing how long it will last was the worst part.
I could only do things in short bursts of energy. Take teaching yoga for example: after each class I would usually be wiped out for the rest of that day. I kept going though, as it was one of a few things that gave me a short respite from thinking about how tired I am all the time. My cough lasted about 6 weeks. I had fever of around 38-39 degrees Celsius. It went on and off for about 3 months. There was no rhyme or rhythm to these bizarre symptoms.
The extreme tiredness was (and still is) the most persistent symptom of COVID-19 for me. I am usually a healthy, very active and energetic person. For months I would turn in very early and just crash together with my 2 year old. I was unable to function past 8pm. I could only sometimes watch Netflix or read, but nothing heavy or complicated. My mind was not able to stay focused for very long. I was experiencing a frequent ‘brain fog’ and my concentration was impossible to maintain. Getting out of bed in the morning was a major task. It is made especially challenging with an energetic 2 year old.
Even though we started off in more or less in the same place, Zach and Sophia have made a full recovery with seemingly no other symptoms or long term consequences. And there was me, feeling up and down all the time. I am very glad that Zach was able to take care of Sophia, while I was recovering. Like me, he was also trying to understand the unpredictability of what was happening.
My usually very dynamic daily yoga practice took a back seat in the face of the tiredness and other myriad of physical symptoms. I did, however, manage to practice yoga online: including mindfulness meditation, Yin yoga and yoga Nidra. They are my saviours and help me replenish my energy when I need it the most.
A roller coaster
My COVID-19 roller-coaster has been going on for about 12 weeks and thankfully it is slowing down now. I am still recovering, but now and again I have days when the symptoms flare up. I feel overcome by exhaustion so much that I have to lie down for a few hours to feel OK again.
Many people died and many face long term hospitalisations and complications, and my case is considered very mild. I am not the only one who had the long term effects of COVID-19. At the beginning I thought that my symptoms were perhaps due to stress and anxiety of the lockdown and being at home. Only after a little while reports started coming through about people with long term complications, which validated everything that was happening.
Have you had experiences similar to mine? We would love it if you could share them with us.
Find out in our next blog post how Gosia coped with all the long-term symptoms of coronavirus.
For more information on how to cope with mental health problems during coronavirus go to mind.org.uk where you can find lots of useful techniques and advice that I found very helpful.