Beth Swalwell, a Creston local, recently contracted COVID-19. (Photo Submitted)

Beth Swalwell, a Creston local, recently contracted COVID-19. (Photo Submitted)

‘A huge source of guilt’: Creston woman shares COVID-19 impact on her mental health

Beth Swalwell and her husband tested positive in March

Researchers around the world are paying close attention to the lasting physical impacts COVID-19 is having on patients, but one Creston woman is speaking out about the toll the respiratory illness has had on her mental health.

Beth Swalwell, who has lived in town for 25 years, doesn’t know how she contracted the virus, but she suspects it was from her husband’s work travels.

On March 23, they both began showing symptoms, including sore throat, headaches, and dry cough.

“I was never afraid of getting COVID because I’m a healthy person,” said Swalwell. “We had always been hyper vigilant with wearing face masks and washing our hands. There’s not a lot that we could’ve done differently.”

As owner of Art Barn Studio, she immediately cancelled her all-ages art classes and notified students – some of who have underlying health conditions. Her main concern was transmitting the virus and implicating fellow community members.

“It was a huge source of guilt,” said Swalwell.

“People have to quarantine and take two weeks off work, so that affects their family’s income. I was devastated.”

The couple didn’t receive any judgement from their family and friends. Instead, they were eager to offer their help and support.

Although Swalwell was given the all-clear to resume regular activities on April 8, COVID-19 is still impacting her family.

“What I do hope is people understand our feelings of dread and sadness as we wait for updates about my father-in-law, who is in the hospital fighting for his life with the virus that he caught from us,” she said.

Lasting impacts of COVID-19 go beyond physical symptoms

Like many people over the past year, Swalwell felt the detrimental effects of spending time in isolation away from her social circle. Not only that, she also displayed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I would have flashes of traumatic images like patients on ventilators, people dying in the hospital, and trucks full of dead bodies,” she said.

“I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. COVID may not have been as bad as the kidney stones I had a month ago, but the mental suffering of knowing I might have passed it to other people was terrible.”

Once Swalwell had identified the problem with her doctor, she began to work through it.

It is her hope that sharing her story will lead others to take COVID-19 and the health restrictions – including mandatory mask use – more seriously.

“I just hope that’s something that people can understand, and they might not,” she said.

“When I wear my mask in the grocery store, that’s me saying that I care about you.”

For mental health resources, contact 310-6478 or the Interior Health Crisis Line at 1-888-353-2273 for immediate assistance.

READ MORE: Lower Kootenay Band develops new park to honour lost children

READ MORE: Creston’s upcoming food processing facility will allow for new value-added products

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: Kelsey.yates@crestonvalleyadvance.ca


 

@kelseyannayates
kelsey.yates@crestonvalleyadvance.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Creston Valley

Just Posted

These Douglas fir logs were recently found poached on Stoney Hill in North Cowichan’s forest reserve. (Larry Pynn/sixmountains.ca)
OPINION: Cowichan Valley’s Six Mountains Forest: War or Peace—The Choice is Ours

Icel Dobel writes in favour of protecting Cowichan Valley forests

North Cedar Volunteer Fire Department crews at the scene of a single-vehicle crash on Barnes Road near Holden Corso Road in Cedar. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Jeep rolls over on wet afternoon in Cedar, occupants OK

Incident happened Monday, May 17, on Barnes Road

The former St. Joseph’s School converted to the St. Joseph’s Art Studios in 2019. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Former Chemainus St. Joseph’s School site sold to addictions recovery group

Diocese stresses the importance of a community outreach option in its decision

The bow-legged bear was seen roaming 2nd Avenue on Friday, May 7 and again in Brown Drive Park on May 13. (Submitted photo)
Bow-legged Ladysmith bear euthanized after vet examination

CO Stuart Bates said the bear had obvious health issues

The Arts Council of Ladysmith and District is working with several Vancouver Island art councils on the Digitial Innovation Group to improve digital skills for Island artists. (Submitted photo)
Digital Innovation Group supports digital literacy for Island artists

The goal is to leverage digital skills to promote Vancouver Island as an ‘arts powerhouse’

North Cedar Volunteer Fire Department crews at the scene of a single-vehicle crash on Barnes Road near Holden Corso Road in Cedar. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Jeep rolls over on wet afternoon in Cedar, occupants OK

Incident happened Monday, May 17, on Barnes Road

Relief is coming for B.C.’s struggling tourism sector. (NEWS file photo)
B.C. officials set to announce more support for tourism sector hit hard by pandemic

Non-essential travel is restricted between three regional zones in B.C. until at least May 24

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Nathalie Emmanuel, left, and Vin Diesel in a scene from "F9." (Giles Keyte/Universal Pictures via AP)
The blockbuster movie is making a comeback this summer

Excitement in the industry is growing again for a return to a big-screen normal

More “strings of lights” were seen on May 15, 2021, in night sky over Vancouver Island. (File photo)
Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
7-year old Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery for rescuing child at beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

Nathan Zuk had left his mother’s residence in Whaletown on Cortes Island in mid-December 2020 in a 14’ skiff rowboat and headed to an unknown location near the Pryce Channel, Deer passage, or Toba Inlet. Photo courtesy RCMP
RCMP need help finding man who set off from Cortes Island in 14-foot rowboat

Nathan Zuk left in December, may have been last seen in Toba Inlet approximately three weeks ago

Most Read