My symptoms started in March 2020, when we went into lockdown because of the pandemic. I felt pretty sick with what felt like a severe flu. I could not be certain about this ‘though, because there was no testing for Covid available outside the hospital, but it must have been Covid.
After two weeks the acute illness dissipated, but the extreme headaches and fatigue remained. At times I would have to lie in a darkened room because I could not bear the light. I tried to get back to work as best as I could, but my symptoms only got worse.
After a year of trying to get back to my normal working level, my symptoms reached a peak. I crashed and could do close to nothing. In addition to the fatigue and the headaches I now started to experience post-exertional malaise. Not only exercising with the physiotherapist, but even having a cup of coffee with my friends would make me ill. After being active for an hour, I would have to lie in bed for at least three hours, also with a fever sometimes and with severe headaches every time.
My life became extremely limited. I was unable to do any shopping, cooking or talk to someone longer than an hour. My partner was doing all the housework. Because any activity would increase my symptoms, I would be lying down for 18 to 20 hours a day without any stimuli.
I tried lots of things to get rid of the symptoms. I tried physiotherapy, occupational therapy, haptotherapy, osteotherapy and I went through a multidisciplinary rehabilitation trajectory. Unfortunately, nothing worked.
The turning point came when, after two years of trying just about anything, I decided to give up. I accepted that I would not recover and stopped focussing on getting better. Instead, I decided to start living my small life to the fullest. I let go of all the ‘rules’ I had learned in the past years and just did whatever I felt like.
At that time, I realised that Long Covid was a lot like Post Concussion Syndrome, persisting symptoms after concussion. And I found the “New Mi”- podcast by Milou Pelle, in which she relates recovering through the TMS-approach. This approach teaches that these kinds of symptoms are being caused by repressed emotions.
I also bought Saskia de Bruin’s book called ‘Weg van de pijn’ which translates as “Away from the pain” but also as “The way of pain”. This book is also based on the TMS-approach and I started my expressive journaling. This included writing about things that bothered me without any inhibitions. Many times, things would surface that I had not been conscious of at all. And this helped my symptoms: little by little, I was able to take on some more activities.
Now, another year has passed, and I am fully recovered at last. I can do anything I want. Sometimes I am still tired and after a busy day, I still experience some headaches. But honestly, I used to have these before I got sick as well.
I am now in the process of starting my own practice to guide others with their recovery. I truly believe this is the road to recovery and I am happy to share all of this with others.
Other people’s recovery stories helped me a lot in my own recovery. They made me believe that there was a way to recovery for me too. That’s why I decided to share my recovery journey here. And in my podcast "Lief klein leven" (in Dutch).