Dear Editor,

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I have a question I would like to ask every form of media, the CDC, Dr. Fauci along with every other  medical  expert. For 3 years I  have listened to all of the above regarding COVID, it’s effects etc. Yet WHY have I not heard one word about what possibly could be one of the most dangerous side effects of COVID  The effect it can have on one’s emotions? Because I have battled ME/CFS since 1985 I keep up with all the latest news on it. I have seen mention of  many patients that have had COVID and still after months they are still  experiencing many of the same symptoms as those of us with ME/CFS… lingering fatigue, brain fog, general all over pain, etc. They are called COVID Long Haulers. Nowhere have I heard or seen any mention regarding mental issues it can have on many.  Brain Fog, Anxiety, Depression, Feelings of being totally, completely overwhelmed, irritable to name a few. To these add  noise and light sensitivity.  Patients with ME/CFS experience many of these symptoms on a regular basis and  are used to them. Many of us are on medication to help us deal with it.  I cannot imagine suddenly having all of these happen to me and have no idea it is the result of COVID. It’s hard to  imagine how I would be coping if I was not already on medication.  I wonder if there are any studies on how many suicides could be attributed to people having had COVID and developed these symptoms but did not know what was causing these feelings.

The only reason I am sharing such private personal information is this. So many people are hesitant to talk about mental health issues because there is still a stigma regarding it. It is  a sad but true fact.   People would never  tell a person with diabetes to  quit taking  insulin. Yet for most it is the very same issue, our brains do not manufacture enough of certain chemicals therefore we suffer from things like depression that is usually easily controlled with medication.  It is nothing to be ashamed of,  I’ve never kept it a secret that I take an antidepressant because I hope by being open about it others might be encouraged to seek help. I was diagnosed with COVID June 18th.  Because of my ME/CFS it took me longer than some to recover physically. I had absolutely no idea it could affect my emotions until I saw my psychiatrist for my regular check up for my refills.  I mentioned to her I was feeling anxious and overwhelmed. Then I mentioned I’d recently had COVID This was the first time I’d heard about any connection. I was told they are seeing many patients with emotional issues. I said I suppose most  are people like me that already have had issues.  Surprisingly she said “No, many are people who have never seen a mental health professional in their life, some more severe than others. In total I have discussed this with 3 mental health professionals and have received the same answers.Please, if you or someone you know  is experiencing any of the above, see your doctor or a mental health professional. Be open and honest,  explain in detail what you are experiencing.  There  are medications available  to help  you through this. Sadly it may not be just a matter of weeks, it could take  months, but there is hope. I repeat, do not hesitate to reach out or encourage others to reach out.  Don’t let that old stigma that is so often associated with mental health keep you seeking help..  Last but certainly not least, if you know someone going through this do your best to be patient and understanding, assure them you understand.  In many cases just allowing them to talk to you about something that is or may have been bothering them  for a while will help keep feelings from reaching a boiling point.  This alone  may cause them to lash out at someone. Let them know they are important, reassure them they are not alone and that “this to shall, pass”.  

If this helps just one person then my being open and honest will make it worthwhile.

Sincerely,

Eileen Pritchard

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