April 5, 2021

COVID and Bipolar: Living With Long-Term Illnesses

An Interview with Prechter Research Participant Jennifer F. by The Michigan COVID-19 Photo Series Group

REDFORD, MI – COVID-19 has affected people all around the world. As we learn more about the disease and its impacts on our health, it can be helpful to hear from people who have survived the initial onset and are now living with long-term side effects. 

Jennifer holding her new dog Sasha
Jennifer and her new service dog, Sasha

Jennifer F., one of the Prechter Program's long-time research participants, contracted COVID-19 at the beginning of the pandemic. She shared her story of surviving coronavirus, what it was like to isolate, being grateful for her pets and service animals, and the parallels between living with COVID-19 and living with bipolar disorder. Her interview is a part of the Michigan COVID-19 Photo Series group

“Participating in this project made me feel like I was making an impact and helping people understand the complexities of long-term COVID-19 as well as living with mental illness. I have found there are a lot of similarities between living with COVID-19 and being bipolar. Both took a long time to diagnose, there was denial that I had both, and it took a lot of time to figure out what was really wrong. The biggest difference with Covid-19 is that the world was learning about it in real time. I was one of the first to get it in Michigan and suffered for months until I got an appointment at the post COVID-19 clinic at U-M Post ICU Longitudinal Survivor Experience Clinic. Over 11 months I was tested to find the extent of the damage from COVID-19. My quest to get proper bipolar help took almost 20 years. The persistence it took to get my mental health in the right hands made fighting for my physical health easier. Also, knowing that the whole world didn’t have the answers yet made it easier to accept ‘I don’t know’ from doctors,” said Jennifer. 

Jennifer added: “It’s been a little over a year since the initial infection. Many of my symptoms have lessened or corrected themselves. I do have permanent damage to my lungs and I have ongoing shortness of breath. My brain fog has lifted except when extremely tired mentally and physically. There is hope that with the Pfizer vaccine, many long-term patients have had symptoms abate. I am on the waiting list at the moment.” 

Jennifer also asked that we include a note for people who have followed her journey over the years:

“I lost my beloved service dog Maya on February 22, 2021. She was faithfully by my side through this whole ordeal and helped keep me sane when the pain and fatigue was at its worst. I now have a young service dog in training named Sasha. She is a Samoyed like Maya and thanks to the need to have to train her I am much more active and moving which is helping me physically.“

Listen to the interview with Jennifer here: https://www.themicovid19.com/jennifer

Learn more about Jennifer in these stories: