Opinion | Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson: What I learned from COVID | SummitDaily.com

Opinion | Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson: What I learned from COVID

I sat with COVID-19 last weekend and learned a few important lessons. Or perhaps I should say I spent the weekend in bed or on the couch with COVID, because for four days I wasn’t able to do anything else. And yet those few days felt like a week because as the illness grew worse, I slept less.

It wasn’t until my friend Larry dropped off a COVID test in the pouring rain on Saturday afternoon that I was able to confirm it was COVID-19. And when the illness finally turned a corner on Monday and I began the incremental progress of recovery, I was thankful that I had had my vaccinations. I didn’t have a fever or even much of a cough — my physical symptoms were a bone tiredness exhaustion, loss of smell and loss of appetite.

But the most pronounced symptom of the virus was a terrible despair I felt would crush me over the course of the weekend but which thankfully lifted day by day as I grew stronger.

The sudden and pronounced desolation so scared me that I mentioned it to my friend Sharon who volunteers for a mental health organization. Then I sent a message to my doctor, who responded quickly and pointed out my despair was a normal aspect of being ill and would resolve itself as I felt better physically. But I also wrote about my experience in my journal to remind myself in the future when I feel this despair to not act on it but to know that it will get better as I physically grow stronger.

When I was unable to anything other than lay in bed and scroll through my phone, I devoured sensational news and social media. After a day or two I realized that this incessant intake of garbage only added to my despair and anxiety.

Because I did not feel well enough to read, I finally opened Hallow, a faith-based app that offers audio prayers and scripture readings, none more than 10 minutes in length. As an antidote to the dark thoughts that filled my mind, I played these prayers and readings of the Psalms. And they helped me immeasurably. I felt held in God’s arms, secure that even in my despair God was present and would hold me up even as Christ held Peter above the stormy waves.

I realized that what we fill our minds with daily matters to our mental health, our spiritual health, and yes even our physical health. Now that I am on the mend, I choose to limit my intake of garbage social media and provocative news and counter it with at least an equal amount of spiritual food.

I also learned that I am still grieving my mother’s death. It’s been 3 1/2 months and next month, I’ll fly to Fort Lauderdale and join my siblings for a memorial service. In the despair I felt last weekend, I understood that my grief is still close to the surface and I must accept that it will take more time to journey through.

Finally, I was reminded that I have a lovely community of friends and neighbors in Breckenridge. Throughout the weekend I received text messages asking if there was anything I needed. My neighbor dropped off a quart of chicken soup and Gatorade and left it on the picnic table on my back deck. They say illness, even a brief bout of COVID, can teach us important lessons if we are willing to listen.

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