Did COVID Kill My Creativity?
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may have noticed my posting hasn’t been nearly as frequent this year. That’s because I was sick with COVID at the start of the year and have had long COVID in the months since then.
I was already dealing with seasonal depression when I woke up on December 30, 2021 with a tickle in my throat and a slight cough. I figured it was nothing major and continued on for the next few days, as my symptoms worsened. By January 3, my cough was deep in my chest and felt familiar to a case of bronchitis I’d had a decade ago.
I took myself to Urgent Care that Monday morning, suspecting I had bronchitis but adamant it wouldn’t be COVID. I had been home with my family December 23-27, when I took a quick trip to Barnes & Noble to take advantage of a sale. Then I was back home through the New Year holiday until I ventured out to Urgent Care.
My positive COVID test was a shock, and of course then I had to text nine members of my husband’s family who had been here for Christmas to let them know. That was scary and stressful on its own. (No one else was sick and those who tested were negative.)
I felt increasingly depressed that week but chalked it up to the fact that I was pretty dang sick. Plus there’s a sense of shame that comes with getting COVID: how did I get it? What did I do wrong? And people assume I wasn’t vaccinated, even though I’d had three doses by that point.
After about ten days, my symptoms were resolved and I started to feel better but I never got quite back to myself. I attributed this to the stress of pandemic life and figured it would get better.
By late January my depression was so bad I was hardly doing anything except lying on the couch and reading all day. This is good on one hand because I was finishing a book a day and it boosted my numbers, but overall it wasn’t good for me. I was hopeless and sad all the time. So I asked for help.
My neurologist increased my antidepressant dose at the end of January and again a month later. Each time, I experienced a small boost of mood but nothing could get me out of the dark hole I was in.
It wasn’t until April, when I started seeing a new therapist, that I finally got some answers.
During our first session, I went through everything I had been experiencing in the past five months and shared my desperation for help with the depression.
The first question she had after remaining speechless during my long update was “Who did you follow up with about the COVID?” I hadn’t done anything to follow up, didn’t think I needed to. Then she shared with me that what I was describing sounded a lot like long COVID and warranted a visit to my primary doctor.
I wasn’t convinced but went to my doctor about ten days later. After a long chat, she told me she was 99% sure I had long COVID. That remaining 1% lies with my Huntington’s Disease, making me a “complicated case.” Everything I was experiencing was common with long COVID but also symptoms of HD. The fact that they came on so suddenly and got SO BAD after I had COVID made that the likely suspect.
She recommended a couple treatments that I don’t want to share here because I don’t want to be giving medical advice. Within ten days, my energy had drastically improved and I’m now much closer to my pre-COVID “normal.”
But the one thing that hasn’t bounced back with everything else is my creativity. I’ve hardly written anything this year, with the exception of blog posts. I feel the urge to journal sometimes but I never have the energy to follow through. This is compared to me writing most days previously.
I’ve persevered the best I can, doing blog posts when I feel like it and keeping up with social media for myself and my part time job. Some days this is all I can do and other days I have to let it go. But it’s been nagging me at the back of my brain that I don’t feel like “myself” without my creativity, specifically my writing.
It wasn’t until this month that I started to feel a trickle of creativity coming back in. I had to do some essay questions for a grant application for my job and I got into a flow state. I can’t remember the last time that happened, definitely not this year!
This week, I lay down and created some goals for myself in regard to the three “gigs” I work. One is this blog, one is working part time as an office manager of a bakery, and the third is an Ebay business I have reselling vintage toys and clothes. I’m hoping that with my increased energy, if I can create some structure for myself around the tasks I need to do, I can get more done and not feel like I’m half-assing everything in my life.
This post is NOT meant to serve as medical commentary at all. It’s my own personal story, which I’m sharing in hopes of letting others know they aren’t alone. I did a little Google research on the topic of COVID and creativity and I didn’t necessarily see anything to support my experience but it’s different for everyone. It may be related to the virus or simply the fact that life is hard and this is how my body/mind is coping.