Going To The ER For COVID-19 With A Mental Illness
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The other day, I to the hospital because I was having bad chest pains and other concerning symptoms — shallow breathing, intense buzzing throughout my entire body, and very bad dizziness. I could barely speak or walk.

That whole week, I had been experiencing COVID-like symptoms (fever, sore throat, dry cough, extreme tiredness). When it reached its peak I knew I had no choice but to go to the emergency room.

When I went in, they asked me if I took any medication — I didn't think this would be used against me.

So I answered honestly, I told them I took a low dose of an antidepressant for my general anxiety disorder.

As soon as I told the nurse this, she left me alone in the room (barely checking on me) when I felt like I was going to collapse.

When she came in after nearly an hour and a half, I pointed to my vitals with concern. She scoffed and said "Yeah, of course, your oxygen is low and your heart rate is 125 bpm. You are working yourself into a fit!" I wasn't hyperventilating, I was just breathing more quickly because every breath I took was shallow. I tried to tell her I was nervous about the buzzing, the buzzing didn't happen after me being nervous.

Then the doctor came in and simply said: "You just had a panic attack. You are fine. Do you need us to hook you up with a therapist?" I tried to explain to him I never had this bad of chest pain and uncontrollable buzzing/tingling in my entire body and my vision blacking out from it.

He just smiled and said, "Yeah you might have COVID — stay home, get plenty of rest and remember to try your best not to panic!" I knew chest pain was a serious symptom of COVID. I do get panic attacks from time to time, but I never experience burning/stabbing chest pain like that.

I begged the doctor to not discharge me and stay to look at my vitals. When the nurse left me alone, my oxygen saturation had gotten to 76, when it's supposed to be 92 or higher. I wanted to show him how it fluctuated, but since the last reading said 92, "I was fine."

I went home, only to experience intense burning in my lungs the very next day. Every time I would inhale, even lightly, I had sharp, stabbing pain. The dizziness became worse, I couldn't walk, I had a high fever, and I genuinely felt like I was on my death bed. Every time I exhaled there would be a noticeably loud crackling sound my boyfriend could even hear. I had started to cough up blood.

I chose to go to another ER, this time not mentioning my anxiety diagnosis.

To my surprise, they took me SO much more seriously. They decided to actually do detailed testing on me (blood tests, CT scan, other tests) not just the old fashioned X-ray and stethoscope.

They found a concerning abnormality in my blood from a bacterial infection. They found my lungs were dangerously filled with phlegm and fluid in the CT scan. They showed me the picture and diagnosed me with "COVID-19 Bacteria-Induced Pneumonia Case" just by seeing how blocked my lungs were. I was terrified. Immediately, they put me on strong antibiotics through an IV to try to help my condition.

They told me that when tingling happened before, my body was reacting to the lack of oxygen from all the gunk in my lungs. They said it was pretty severe for my age, but they were going to do what they could to help me. Even now that I am on an inhaler and strong antibiotics, I still have difficulty breathing (but I know that if I didn't go back to the hospital, it could have been much much worse).

It makes me so sad to see the bias those doctors at the first ER had toward my mental illness.

If you experience scary medical symptoms, PLEASE keep trying to get help. Not all doctors will dismiss you. If you feel there is something genuinely wrong, don't stop looking for treatment until you get the help you need! Keep fighting and advocating for yourself. It is worth it.

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