My name is Jillian Longsworth and I am a mom and small business owner who is also a COVID-19 long haul, going through a year of change.
My company, NoDa Yoga, temporarily closed a year ago today on March 17, 2020, when the NC stay-at-home order has begun. Our team switched to virtual classrooms while suffering an 80% loss of income. We are fortunate that our yoga community made the change with us and supported us with a Go Fund Me which helped us through many months of the pandemic. The rest of the help to keep NoDa Yoga afloat came from government and personal loans and grants.
Then my daughter and I both caught COVID-19 in July. We don’t know how we got the virus and assume it came from an asymptomatic person we were often with.
The long-haul life of COVID-19
Since then, to be completely honest, it has been a roller coaster of emotions resulting from long-term symptoms that developed gradually after the initial coronavirus diagnosis. I developed insomnia, fatigue, a higher level of anxiety and neuropathy in my fingers and toes for several months.
About two months ago, I experienced symptoms similar to a stroke, with numbness in my tongue, legs and arms, followed by headaches and balance issues that left me feeling overwhelmed. sent to the doctor for blood tests.
I have joint pain in my fingers and toes that wakes me up every night around 3 a.m. My once nearly perfect blood pressure is now in the hypertension range, and my doctor and I are discussing blood pressure medication.
I’m 42, and with that, brings the stigma of being a woman in her 40s. If I had a dollar for every time I heard, “Well, you’re at this age where…” There’s a lot of denial and a lot of work around right now regarding COVID-19 and the long haul. My symptoms are mild compared to many others in the community and beyond.
Today, I feel lucky that my physical body is regaining strength. I also feel incredibly lucky to have lived the experience and to share stories with those in the communities around Charlotte who feel lonely on their long haul journey. To experience is to acquire knowledge and with knowledge comes a deep sense of empathy and compassion for humanity.
Misinformation rages on
In addition to the long-term symptoms, my daily interactions with members of my yoga community became like an Alice in Wonderland scene – only it was Alice in COVID Country. I found myself browsing the disinformation about the virus and saw the verbiage of the QAnon conspiracy theory start to make its way into my Instagram and Facebook stories on my news feed from people I thought I knew in the health and wellness industries.
A definite change for my daughter and I are the friends we interact with online or in public – with masks of course. We are no longer associated with certain people due to their outward portrayal that the virus is a hoax or the misinformation they were fed by wellness influencers. The idea that the virus is a bad cold or that we are all sheep has been widely shared on the foods I followed by yoga teachers and wellness influencers.
My daughter is doing well and we often share our feelings about what wrong means and who is vulnerable in our community. She has also seen the economic downfall of members of our community, including the homeless, and has a desire to help others. We have a lot of discussions about why it is important to take care of others while wearing a mask and to understand the difference between the me and us mindset.
During COVID-19, people sought answers from anyone they believed had a position of power. Yoga influencers have the opportunity for Charlotte to express themselves and stop the spread of disinformation. Instead, some choose to broadcast false claims. People want to feel a connection with these teachers and tend to believe every word they say, when in reality they themselves are brainwashed by misinformation. It is very sad to watch.
We all seemed to be seeing something very different through the looking glass. I watched the rabbit hole divide into masks and science spread to Charlotte. I felt that with each door I opened, the community’s window of tolerance grew smaller and smaller. I recently asked the question of how to widen this window of tolerance to be more human-centered and maintain a space of safety and inclusiveness for all in this pandemic.
Back to business
The main area of NoDa Yoga still remains closed to in-person classes, and with the most recent study that came out on gymsIt is clear that we made the right choice by only offering virtual lessons for the past year, although the studio will reopen towards the end of March with a limited schedule.
The experience of all of the above was put into perspective and allowed me to clarify what our next steps were for NoDa Yoga. Our second location, which at times looked like the mid-pandemic of the ‘little engine that could’, is coming to fruition and will open for in-person classes in Oakhurst in late March or early April. We will follow the governor’s capacity mandate and we will need masks. We have also installed three HVAC systems with plasma air sterilizers and a cleaning crew will be coming regularly.
We will continue to follow the science and guidelines in place to open our doors safely and efficiently. I often tell my students that there is power in taking a break, and it has been a break that I will never take for granted.