Carey’s Story of COVID, Recovery and Resiliency

A Story of Recovery

Many people in recovery from mental health and/or substance use challenges tell their story and it is an important part of their recovery.  Often people who hear or read these stories identify with something in the story, which helps them understand their situation and seek assistance.

This is a story of a young woman who had a personal encounter with the COVID-19 virus, which resulted in some significant mental health difficulties.

“Hi.  My name is Carey and this is my story.

I was invited to a party with close friends one night.  I had my mask with me, but no one else was wearing one.  I thought I’d be okay; we all knew each other and no one else seemed to be concerned.

Well, I was wrong and my decision not to wear my mask resulted in me contracting the virus.

I felt like I’d been hit by a MACK truck; fever, sweats, disorientation and ultimately difficulty breathing and a lot of pain.  I had to call 911 to take me to the hospital when it got so bad that I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to breathe.

I was fortunate, though; I got better fairly quickly (I’m young and healthy) and was able to go back home after a couple of days.

After being home for a day or so, I started feeling this wave of uneasiness and nervousness, with this sense that something terrible was going to happen.  My stomach ached and I couldn’t eat.  I couldn’t stop worrying that I would get the virus again and this time I’d die.  I couldn’t sleep.  It was a struggle every day to get up and go to work.

I couldn’t figure out why this was happening to me.  I couldn’t seem to “shake it off” and it got to the point where my boss noticed my behavior and saw that I wasn’t getting my work done.

She pulled me aside that day and told me that she’d noticed I was falling behind with my work and didn’t seem like myself.  She told me I needed to take few days off and see a doctor. She also gave me a 211 phone number to call if I felt I was in crisis or just needed information about what to do.

After checking in with my primary care doctor, I called 211 and got the name of a therapist who works with people with anxiety.  I felt so embarrassed and weak because I couldn’t handle this myself.  I really didn’t want to have to see someone for mental health problems.

I made the right decision, though, and found a good therapist and psychiatrist. I worked with my therapist for several months, and was prescribed a medication to take until I felt I better.

I was able to return to work on a part-time basis after that time.  My therapist referred me to a wellness and recovery center  in town.  There, I found “peers” who encouraged me to talk about how I was feeling; I felt they really understood my situation.  They shared their experiences with me, and I felt less embarrassed and was less critical of myself.  I felt so much better to know that there were other people who had similar experiences and they had gotten better.  I started to feel hopeful about my life.  They shared with me that they thought I showed a lot of resilience and this would really help me in my recovery.

It’s been over 9 months and I’m back at work full-time, taking care of myself, helping out at home, and volunteering at the center.   I still have times that I struggle, but now I have coping skills and a great support network that helps me manage the challenges I experience and move towards full recovery.