Guest post by my friend who wishes to remain anonymous. Note: this is one person’s anecdotal experience and not meant to be any kind of blanket statement. It is certainly not being presented as “science” or research.
My friend writes:
I actually got the coronavirus and I realized some things about it, which might possibly be good news for some psychiatric survivors. COVID-19.
In my experience, is not really a respiratory illness; it’s an illness that attacks the nervous system, with a strong respiratory component. My lungs did take a beating, but many of the symptoms that I got were similar to symptoms that I got after coming off psych meds in 2012: minor seizures/muscle twitching, insomnia/sleep disturbances, digestive problems, fatigue, cognitive issues/brain fog, rumination/thought loops, nerve pain, worse tinnitus, shakiness, weakness, headaches, feeling like my body was swelling up and the skin was too tight.
However, since I have been used to varying levels of these symptoms since 2012, I had a head start on dealing with them, and also they were not as severe as what I’ve experienced before.
My theory is that because I have been so used to years of neurological issues since quitting the meds, I was in a better place to deal with these issues coming from a virus.
I already knew how to adjust my diet to be more anti-inflammatory, and what other things would help. I think that many other people who have quit psychiatric medication will also have that head start, unlike many of the population who are dealing with neurological health issues for the very first time and have more fear of the unknown from it.
I don’t want to jump the gun, but I’m cautiously optimistic. I could feel the virus crawling around from one part of my body to the next, but presumably because of all the work I’ve already done to stabilize my nervous system over the years, the symptoms were mild, or they were intense but over quickly and seem to have left no permanent damage.
Eventually I beat the virus back (and possibly killed it entirely). I feel more optimistic for the chances of people who have been off medications for a while. However, I would probably caution people who want to come off medication to wait, or titrate down extra extra slowly, because combining COVID-19 illness with medication withdrawal would overload the nervous system even more and could cause more damage than either one alone.
Anyone who is already titrating down and doing well, if they become sick with the coronavirus they should probably pause that titration for the duration they are sick (about six weeks – the CDC’s estimation of two weeks is not nearly as long as the illness actually is for most people).
I hope you find this helpful for your clients and encouraging for you!