DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE: WLNS employee shares experience with COVID-19, mental toll of virus

Digital Exclusives

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — It’s no secret that COVID-19 is everywhere in our state right now and WLNS-TV6 is not immune to that.

About a month back, our general sales manager Jennifer Alexander tested positive for the virus and decided she wanted to share her experience, specifically the mental toll the virus took on her.

Alexander was wrapping up what she thought was a normal week at WLNS when all the sudden she started feeling awful.

“It literally felt like I had been hit by a bus,” Alexander said. “Everything just hurt. Like my eye lids hurt, everything hurt. Just very, very sore.”

Alexander didn’t have any know exposures to COVID-19, but eventually she decided to get tested and sure enough, she was positive.

“I was kind of taken a back a little bit because I thought for sure it was just the flu because that’s what it felt like,” Alexander said.

The rest of her family was still feeling fine, so she grabbed everything and moved to the basement. That’s when she started to deal with the mental strains of the virus.

“By Tuesday, that’s when the depression started setting in and it kind of got worse from there,” Alexander said. “Just the complete feeling of, well I think the isolation and being away from the people that you care about and just scared. It wouldn’t even matter to me that my mom and them would come out to the sliding glass door you know to talk or whatever. It’s scary, it’s pretty scary.”

Mental health experts say Alexander is by no means alone in this phenomenon.

“Certainly I think it would be very normal to feel alone, to feel worried, to feel afraid. And we have to first be able to listen to that and hear that and validate that,” said Shana Badgley, a Director at Community Mental Health.

Badgley said they’ve seen a 50 percent increase in adult mental health concerns this year. Instead of “COVID-shaming” or feeling guilty if you get the virus, Badgley said it’s important to remember we’re all on the same team.

“I think if we assume positive intent, we decrease worry, we decrease division,” Badgley said. “Probably the last thing we need is more stress and worry and tension. So I really want to encourage people to assume good intentions and believe that people are doing the best that they can.”

When Alexander started to feel depressed, she reached out to her doctor who said the way you’re feeling is completely normal.

Alexander said the reason she wanted to speak out is because when other people inevitably get the virus and have to quarantine by themselves, she doesn’t want them to feel alone like she did.

“People need to know that this feeling of isolation and the depression and the scariness like they need to know they’re not alone in that feeling,” Alexander said. “It made me feel better when the doctor said that because I thought “oh my gosh they’re going to prescribe me something and knock me out I’m acting crazy” and she’s like no, it’s very prevalent.”

If you or anyone you know is struggling or needs assistance, free or low-cost mental care can be found here. You can also call 1-800-273-8255 24 hours a day 7 days a week, for free and confidential support.

You can also find my full interview with Dr. Debra Pinals of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services where we discuss the difficulties of isolating, “COVID shaming,” and much more.

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