Covid, The Organs, The Brain, & A Personal StoryMar 11, 2022
I'm writing this after a deep and meaningful conversation and a request to put my thoughts down. I can't fully remember everything I said, but I'm going to try my best to communicate well here.
I'm going to share my personal experience of Covid-19 and my professional opinion of it all. My desire is to create an open-air and judgment-free conversation.
** Disclaimer, I do not treat Covid and am not commenting on treatment. I'm writing to share my personal experience of my journey and my assessments of mental health & pelvic health as that is what I am most qualified to professionally comment on.
To begin...I've had the Covid virus, to my knowledge, twice. I write this in early March 2022.
The first time I contracted Covid was in April 2021. If 0 is no symptoms / positive test and 10 is hospitalization....my experience was about a 5 (this is self-reported, I stayed home and healed without medical care, and I am very aware that self-assessed experience of pain is relative). At the time and in the months following, I experienced significant mood shifts / mental negativity on top of the physical process of recovery. I'm grateful I took good care of it all and am so grateful for my experience and knowledge of mental health, as well as my ability to be in my body and tolerate discomfort, to help me navigate it. My symptoms were more acute this first time, very fast acting worked its way through my system quickly, and my recovery was also fairly speedy. It all felt "very fast and very intense".
(** I'm unsure what "strain" I had with this first round).
The second time I contracted Covid was in early January 2022. This time, the symptoms were perhaps at a 3 (again, self-reported, and my recovery was at home). Acute symptoms resolved quicker with this second experience, and I noticed some very specific processes in my body that felt more tolerable and familiar than the first time (the first time I had the worst headache of my life, and this second time, I did not have a headache and was able to track myself with more ease). After the acute symptoms resolved (mostly mucus / coughing / fever), within a week or two I noticed my vital abdominal organs felt intensely inflamed and generally "nasty". Eventually, this was also resolved. It felt like things were working through my system efficiently, (though it was uncomfortable). After this inflamed organ feeling resolved, the next time I hit menstruation (about another week or two later, this is all ballpark timing), I felt this same "inflamed organ" feeling in my uterus. Since I am so attuned to my uterus (due to my own journey and due to my work, check out my website if you're new to me to understand the full scope of this)...I was very curious about this. It was wild to have the same feeling I'd just had, in a new part of my body, shortly after, in a way that seemed progressive. It seemed like the"travel" of this inflammation was working "down and out" organically. The pelvis is the "slow / yin" area of the body. It made so much sense to me that:
- My acute symptoms came first and they hit me in my brain / upper cavity
- Then my middle abdominal cavity organs (next layer under brain / heart / lungs)
- Then my pelvic organs as the final stop
After the menstrual "shedding", I felt, truly, like a new person. I felt remarkably better in a way much more palpable than my typical post-menstrual time mood & energy shift.
** This is partially from estrogen rising after menstruation which I am very familiar with, but it felt like more than that, it felt like estrogen rising on steroids...like I had taken some serious mood-altering drugs. I had not taken any medication at all and this experience was purely "just me" and my physiology, reacting to whatever was happening that seemed related to this progression of Covid.
The pelvis is often "last" (sometimes forgotten, so sad!), and here I was seeing this phenomenon. This cycle continued in a milder / harder-to-track manner throughout my next cycle as well.
All along this physiological journey, I noticed my tone of thought / mental health / brain, and mood experience having a tough time, in a way not "typical" to how I experience myself. Similar to the first time but less intense and pointed (the first time was so intense I knew something was definitely off and it felt very easy to correlate to the virus). This was more familiar. It all felt "softer" but lasted a bit longer and was more diffused in a way. I felt more equipped to handle it but I noticed trends of true despair which is not a common experience for me. Though I have plenty of challenges with this world, hanging out in despair is not a place I typically dwell, yet I found myself consistently feeling something like despair. I did my best to witness / observe / allow without diving too far in. This took a good bit of me using all my skills. This directly matched the first round of Covid that also came with a heavy mental shift and marked cynicism.
I am not a medical doctor but I know depression is often linked to a lack of oxygen in the brain and body. After not being able to take a deep breath without painful coughing for an extended time, it seemed fitting that perhaps my lungs and brain were extra deprived. For the second time in a row! Combine this with the layers of complexity induced by the last two years. This is a tall order for mental health and physiological health too.
Some other things I've noticed in my work, peers, and in myself...I believe this wild time in the world (and Covid) has puffed up what was already there. I'm aware this is a bit general and not the full picture (how can a blog ever really be the full picture of humanity...), but my overall observation is:
- Many who were already experiencing depression spiraled deeper down (and / or possibly began experiencing new symptoms such as anxiety, I believe anxiety and depression exist on a long spectrum)
- Many who were already experiencing anxiety spun up and out higher than ever (and / or possibly began experiencing new symptoms associated with depression)
- Those with intense high libido and drive for connection seem to have more desire and / or needs for connection (perhaps unless they had Covid, which seems to truly be a libido killer)
- Those who experience low libido seem to be conserving their energy for themselves more than ever and experiencing lower desire & arousal than "typical" (I hesitate to say this because who knows what is associated with age and relationship changes / stress / all the other factors that influence libido, but I have seen enough consistency here to be curious about it)
- Those who struggle with aggression, have gotten more aggressive (or possibly finally collapsed into themselves and crashed, this is linked to the discussion of anxiety and depression as discussed above in my perspective)
- Those who struggle with shutting down or collapsing, have contracted more than they are equipped for (sensitive topic: I correlate this to the spike in suicide rates) or have finally "turned on" and their inner reserves have opened and ignited, possibly bringing on "fight-flight" in a whole new way, or possibly bringing on an inner fire / power, I am very curious about this
My conclusion about Covid is....it preys on what is already there and makes whatever that is...."more" (or, as in the case of aggression and shutting down, has finally begun to swing the pendulum due to the body being zapped of its ability to maintain "the usual" coping mechanisms....see my post on "survival" for more about the nervous system and my take on it all). In my mind, this makes the whole situation high stakes. I truly believe Covid touches something in people that we cannot yet fully understand. I don't feel I can label or evaluate it, just talk about what I'm observing as a practitioner and from personal experience.
What are we to do with this?
I don't have any answers, but I do have skills, tools, practices, and resources to offer. These skills are oriented toward support of your mental health, nervous system regulation, and pelvic health, which I do believe impacts overall health (and, it's not adequate treatment for things like blood clots, that is not what I'm saying, please don't mistake me). The only reason I feel I've been able to handle the above process (that I very much have seen in myself and do not pretend to be immune from) is due to my experience of building these inner and behavioral skills for over 14 years.
I can't imagine going through this time or Covid without my experience and history-building skills and a relationship with all parts of myself. It's no easy process. It's like building any other muscle. The more we practice, the easier it gets. We have to begin somewhere.
If you are in need of guidance, the resources available keep growing. Allow yourself to ask for support. Reach out. Wherever you are on the journey, no one is going to do this for you. The first step is admitting where you are, affirming that you are in need, and evaluating where you can turn to for qualified support. If you are able if you have the resources to do so.....lean in. It's a privilege to be able to do so.
Much gratitude, solidarity, support, and warmth to you, with love, Alicia