***WARNING: Contains triggering COVID illness related storytelling ***
In March 2020 my husband came home and started coughing. "Its probably just a cold" he said and we looked at each other cautiously. We decided to let everyone we had been in contact with know and to self isolate immediately.
With no testing around neither of us knew what to prepare ourselves for, but we hunkered down, playing by all the rules, scrambling to get online deliveries as the supermarkets ran out of toilet paper, tinned tomatoes and pasta as people panic bought everything in sight. The very next day my husband took a turn for the worse and started to feel unwell. As his symptoms increased I got more and more fearful. Lovely friends and neighbours were delivering paracetamol, Night Nurse and food supplies. They were an absolute lifesaver. But by day 7 I inevitably started to feel really awful too. Like someone had placed my head in a vice and was sucking the life force energy out of my body. My face was grey.
By day 9 I was terrified. My husband had started to cough up blood and was very weak. He wasn't eating or sleeping as he couldn't stop coughing. I lay in bed next to him thinking at any minute I might have to call an ambulance. But what if it didn't come? We both lay awake crying and coughing and sweating.
That morning we called 111. We spoke to 5 different people, and I specifically remember one lady telling me to keep calm, pack Joey a bag, take him to hospital and just look after each other. Her angelic and kind voice was just like my mothers and it made me cry.
I drove Joey to hospital in a weird disembodied state of panic and fear. Of course I couldn't go in so I dropped him as close as I could and asked him to keep me updated every step of the way. I watched him hobble in, and it suddenly occurred to me I might never see him again.
I parked the car opposite the hospital and let emotion take me. I called my Mum and my sister and cried hot tears. Fear and panic were overcoming me in waves and I remember telling myself to "Just Breathe."
So I did. I breathed and breathed and slowed my breath. I kept myself in that very present moment where I was safe, and all was ok (ish). I kept myself from tumbling forwards in time to tragic scenarios I'd seen and heard on the news.
"All will be well. All will be well." I heard myself repeating. All I had was a bit of hope. A bit of trust and faith coming from somewhere deep within. A scrap to cling onto, like debris at sea. I held it fast.
After a couple of hours Joey was out again, and he had been told that he had COVID related pneumonia but wasn't quite yet ill enough to be admitted. We were told to go home and rest and at any sign of him getting worse they would fast track him in.
I didn't sleep for several nights. Everything became a blur as I slowly began to feel worse myself. A sense of our own mortality was very real then. Neither of us knew what was going to happen. Would we get better? What would happen if we got worse?It was truly the most ill I've ever felt in my life.
What Joey and I went through that March was tough. But not as tough as some. We made it through, with the help of amazing friends & family that helped us to heal over the phone, by dropping things off for us and by just being there with their love, kindness and support. I meditated, listened to and read spiritual gurus for guidance, breathed, prayed, practiced yoga.
Without all of this, I'm not sure where we would be now.
It took us both months to recover. I had the lagging fatigue and Joey had lost a few stone and was just very drained. The emotional and mental implications of what happened have left a lasting impression on us both.
After a year of massive financial strain and stress, relationship problems and finally getting back to work and some normality, last Friday I almost had a panic attack.
Sitting alone in the London based news studio where I work as a make up artist, I found out that three of my colleagues had tested positive that day. One had even come into work and tested positive on site. All in, seven members of the make up team had tested positive in the last few days.
I sat in a chair, mask on and looked out of the window. My back was to the open door. I looked out over a pretty river, trees and shrubs, landscaped gardens. Other office buildings. The sky was a mournful winter slate grey. Cold outside. Without any warning my throat closed tight and painful hot tears began rolling down my cheeks. Memories from that previous March came flooding back. Flashbacks and pain. Fear. Sickness. Pain. My breath quickened, I felt my heart pumping so fast I thought it would explode in my chest. "No, no, no.....We cant get this again, no not again...." I knew if I didn't do something quickly I was going to start hyperventilating.
The familiar voice that has literally saved my life so many times before, spoke again.
"JUST BREATHE." The voice said. And so I did, as I'd done before. I kept breathing until, my heart slowed, my breath slowed, my mind stopped racing from past to future and back again. I held myself carefully in the palm of my hand and watched as I soothed myself and calmed down.
The voice I hear when shit gets real and all is a storm, is me. It is the voice that comes from a very quiet place of stillness that lies within each of us. That still and calm place where all is always serene and calm. Where everything is known and understood. Where there is peace and love and powerful strength. Serenity.
When I was younger I heard the voice from time to time, but I wasn't sure where it came from.
Now through yoga I am more connected to that inner voice than ever before. I have been to that inner sanctum. I know that place. This is the voice of powerful peace. The voice of inner strength that tells me "Yes! This is right!" or "No. This is wrong." The voice that steers me onwards, that opens my heart and that gently pushes me forward when I feel fear. The voice that comforts me when I feel desperate or alone, the voice that tells me "All will be well. All will be well. All will be well."
Some may call this voice God, or the universe. To me these things are energetically all the same.
This powerful connection to inner strength and peace is one of the many gifts that yoga has given me, and it is my dearest wish that this gift will be yours too.
I wish for you to find that connection, to help you to tap into that powerful peace and strength when you really need it the most. You never know, it might just save your life.
Sending you so much love and light, and as always, Peace.