My Journey with Covid

By Suzanna Hanna

Like everyone else, I knew it was only a matter of time until I got hit with this mysterious, unending, and highly contagious virus. It was a normal Friday when I began to feel run down. First came the sore throat, then headaches, fever, body aches and difficulty breathing. I knew it was best to rest, so I cleared my schedule and headed to bed. What happened next is difficult to describe. It felt like a dark entity entered my body and was having its way with me. Everything hurt. But what was most concerning is how it made me feel mentally and emotionally. I am relatively good at navigating my feelings without staying stuck in them for long periods of time. But Covid had other plans for me. It took me on a journey further into my own internal wilderness.

As a shadow worker and therapist, I am no stranger to darkness and pain. I also know that the healing journey has many layers and we are often called deeper. In this case, there was no avoiding it. I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere, completely detached from the world. Ironically, I had moved to the mountains a year ago and live surrounded by a vast national forest. It can often feel like I’m a million miles away, and yet there is a magical sense of peace, connection and aliveness that surrounds me. But this was different. This time I felt untethered, alone, and helpless. There was a maniacal loneliness that taunted me in a way that I have never experienced. It was deep, dark and haunting. Due to the level of fatigue and weakness, I felt like there was no way to fight it. No distraction was even plausible or helpful. It lived deep in my bones.

I thought back to when I was 40, I had embarked on a 1,000 mile trek across the country with my dog Grace specifically to face a life long fear of being alone. That journey changed me on numerous levels and I never felt that fear since. But Covid brought me a reminder that all parts of our shadow has layers. There are pieces that go so deep that we can’t escape them no matter how hard we try. They feel archaic and have journeyed with us longer than we are even consciously aware. They are part of the fabric of our human experience.

The loneliness brought along friends; rage, helplessness, fear, and grief. Each of them had their way with me and there was no ability to shake them. There were moments it felt suffocating, making it even more difficult to breathe. My lungs fought for air. Each evening my dreams took me to places that felt terrifying and I would wake up in a feverish sweat. My two dogs begged for their daily walks and I only wished they would disappear. I wanted to scream my rage from the mountaintop. I felt tired, bone tired. Not just from the virus as it worked its way through every system in my body, but from years of working and trying to do everything alone. Tired of paying the bills, walking the dogs, building a business, fixing the house, preparing meals, I had a fantasy that someone would swoop in and release me from this heavy burden. And yet, as I laid in bed, all I was met with was silence and a vast emptiness that filled the room.

Each day I woke praying that I would get my life force back, praying that my body would get a break from the ongoing discomfort. I couldn’t eat which only made me feel weaker. Friends tried to reach out to check on me, but I had not energy to even share with them what I was navigating.

The physical symptoms were hard, but the emotional ones felt even harder. There are many studies now showing how Covid impacts our mental health in numerous ways; both physiologically and emotionally. I don’t think my journey is unique. I believe it is one of the reasons that Covid is here, to wake us up on a much deeper level both internally and externally.

I am now healing, but I will not forget the weeks, hours and moments that I spent immersed in the wilderness with this relentless virus. It made sure that I realized that no amount of distraction can save me from addressing what lives inside of me.

Here is what my journey with Covid taught me;

1. We are resilient

We often feel that there are things that we just cannot overcome. That they will in some way lead to our undoing. For some, that is true. But for most of us, we can and do navigate difficult terrain on this human journey everyday. Pain and discomfort shifts over time if we are willing to not let it overtake us. We can breathe through it until it subsides.

2. We can face our shadow

There are parts of ourselves that we can only avoid for so long. During our most vulnerable times and experiences they will emerge. They are not there to punish you, they want your attention. Whether it is fear, loneliness, rage, pain, or any other emotion, they all have something powerful to teach as long as we don’t numb them away.

3. Life is not a given

If the past couple of years has collectively taught us anything, it’s that life is not guaranteed. With over 5,000,000 pandemic deaths, it is vital to truly appreciate every day that we are alive. Our mental, emotional and physical well-being are far more important than any amount of money we can make or success we can achieve.

4. We can create change

We are currently in the midst of a worldwide upheaval that has changed our lives beyond recognition. No one can escape its impact. We are confronted with the true uncertainty of human existence and the true vulnerability of human life. We are brought face to face with the most basic questions of life. What are we here for? What have we done with our lives? What do we yet wish to do if given the opportunity? Who is truly important on our lives? What is it that we truly cherish? If we know who is truly important to us and what we truly cherish, then why have we spent so little of our lives pursuing these things? We need to look at what we are choosing and how we utilize our time.

Walking with you,