It's a worrying time living with bipolar disorder the isolation and anxiety for some can be debilitating. What would happen if you caught Covid on top of all of that? Ellie has details.

Life before I caught covid

I have somehow managed to avoid the clutches of Covid for over a year, despite working in a job that means I am constantly surrounded by people all day long and this was also with me going mask free for the majority of 2020, which on reflection is a miracle that I escaped unscathed from Covid. I had a number of colleagues that had come down with Covid but I never thought I would get it, I believed I was safe in my ivory tower and that I was somehow above Covid because in my mind I was healthy so thought I would escape it. Oh, the ignorance and naivety of youth!

Symptoms

I started off by feeling dizzy and losing my appetite which is extremely unusual for me as I live to eat; I am constantly thinking about my next meal and could eat for England. However, I put my loss in appetite down to the fact that I was moving from Olanzapine to Aripiprazole, the latter of which had resulted in similar symptoms when I was first prescribed it so I thought nothing of it. However, it became apparent that something was wrong when on my way home back from work I was really struggling to cycle which was only a 15- minute journey and one I did every day, six days a week. I was completely exhausted and went straight to bed like no passing go or anything just straight to jail type going to bed. This was very unusual for me as I always ate something and watched some TV to unwind. Yet it was the dreaded cough that came and kept me up most of the night that made me think that I could possibly have Covid.

The next morning, I had a call with my psychiatrist, and I started off by explaining how I was feeling, and she suggested that I go for a Covid test. My mum had to take me as I was feeling weak and dizzy, the centre was a 10-minute walk from my house but in my state, it seemed miles away so being driven there was a godsend.  From what I heard about having the test I must agree that it was not the most pleasant of experiences, I gagged quite a bit as the swab hit the back of my tonsils.  It was a relief to have the test done but it left my nose and throat with a strange feeling afterwards.

I had the results the next day at 7 in the morning saying I had tested positive.  I was surprised at the super quick results as they had said it would take 48 hours, this meant my whole family and I would have to isolate for a minimum of 10 days. The headaches, nausea, dizziness, lack of energy, cough and loss of appetite persisted for six days and by the seventh day things were improving. My appetite improved and I was able to eat more; I celebrated by making French pancakes which I thoroughly enjoyed. However, I noticed my taste and smell have become hypersensitive and things seem more potent. For me I always look for a silver lining in everything and catching Covid resulted me in losing 3.5kg in the first week due to feeling too unwell to each much; at the rate I was going I would be back fitting into my work trousers in no time! (I did however gain 1kg in my second week though,)

Life in isolation

During isolation it gave me the time to read and finish the multitude of books I had as I had nothing but time. I also got engrossed in several tv programs and binged a box set or two. All this was enjoyable I must confess but there was a part of me that was bored and longed to go outside for a run or even just for a walk, our garden was a mud swamp so attempting to go there was out of the question. I found myself restoring tinder and hinged on my phone just for something to do because that was how bored I got, nothing really came of downloading it, but it was a bit of fun.


The time I spent in isolation gave me a partial insight as to what it must be like for people shielding and isolating long term and I must take my hat off to them as I barely managed to cope with the two weeks without wanting to scream and pull my hair out. The four walls of my house had begun to become more like a prison. I was under the impression that the time spent in isolation would be fun yet for the most part this was not the case.

I noticed that my mental health was starting to suffer, and this was after only two weeks of being confined to the house. I found that talking to people on the phone and texting did not compare to being able to see people in the flesh; do not get me wrong I love my family, but we were all starting to wear thin on each other. The whole experience gave me a new found appreciation for how I had taken for granted being able to see people and how much I needed physical contact and how much I love my job and what it gives me.

To say I was bouncing when I returned to work does not do justice to how ecstatic I was! Although a part of me was anxious to go back to work as I had not left my house in what seemed like forever. The best way to describe how I felt was like how you feel waiting for an interview it was this nervous and uncomfortable energy inside. This feeling wore off after a couple of hours and I was grateful to be thrown into the deep end at work.

Here are my reflections and lessons I have learned in the aftermath of having Covid:

  • I need to be more grateful for the health I have and never take it for granted.
  • I am grateful to have two jobs that I love and give me purpose, one of which gave me something to do while isolating and recovering from Covid.
  • I have sick pay in both jobs (this is not a given for those on a zero-hour contract)
  • I underestimated how much I rely on my colleagues and customers to keep me sane and happy.
  • Having a great Doctors surgery and Pharmacy that dropped off my medication was a lifesaver.
  • Having delivery options to get food and essentials proved invaluable.
  • Having regular call check-ups from track and trace to see how I was (they should win an award for their persistence in calling regularly especially when I didn't pick up and were my early wakeup call in the mornings!)