Dreams giving insight into mental health of people as they continue to quarantine from COVID-19

We talked to a dream expert about anxiety dreams in the time of COVID-19

CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. — Mental health is being tested during the coronavirus pandemic and for many it has brought a level of anxiety never before felt.

“I think I’ve been depressed,” Maria Gastineau stated plainly. “I’ve been here three months and it’s too long to be out of my island.”

The 82-year-old left her island home of Vieques, Puerto Rico on March 1 for Georgia. Then COVID-19 hit.

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She has sheltered in place in Cherokee County ever since, doing what she enjoys.

“I spend my time crocheting and painting, which as you know I do, but I’m even sick and tired of that,” Gastineau said.

Wild dreams at night and worry in the day bring her anxiety and a longing for home and normalcy.

“I have two lives. When I’m sleeping and when I’m awake here,” Gastineau said.

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“Dreams are our way of communicating to us what’s bothering us, what’s really going on. It comes to us in a state where we can’t defend against it,” said Dr. Stephanie Covall, a behavioral neuroscientist.

She added dreams are our thoughts, they have meaning, and they should be discussed for the message they hold.

Maria’s dreams have been of people who have passed.

“Our body, our minds are percolating with the losses, the changes in routine, the anxieties that we’re not dealing with during the day,” Dr. Covall explained.

She also said structure is important for the mind. People are well served to take each day as it comes, with intention and purpose.

While ‘normal’ will be different for each one of us, we are all learning lessons of what matters to us.

"Quite frankly, there may be lessons that we don’t want to lose from these times,” Dr. Covall said.

As for Gastineau, she believes all will be well with her once she returns home to Vieques on May 30.

Covall said what matters is that a person seeks help and someone to talk with.

A bit of a silver lining in this pandemic is that telemedicine has become widely available.​

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