Cathartic COVID Writing

By Megan Johnson McCullough

The night the governor of California shut down, locked down, and closed small businesses, I had to write the dreaded email to my fitness studio clients that we would pause until further notice. Little did I know that pause would last over 3 months. It felt like my world was shattered, and with it my purpose. My motivation to get dressed, get out of bed….. every daily living routine that was habitual became pointless to me. Why get dressed if no one will see me?  As a personal trainer and small business fitness studio owner, I didn’t know how to help others and in the midst of figuring out how to transition to online training, I became concerned I needed to help myself too. My mental health was wavering and each Thursday when the County of San Diego made their Covid update, the “pause” extended again and again. 

Motivation is the behavior that makes us act. It is our purpose for taking action. When you don’t feel a purpose, motivation falters and the downward spiral continues, getting harder to climb up out of. Sure, I could make workout videos and written plans for my clients, but personally, my mental health was declining because being an online trainer didn’t motivate me to feel purposeful. For a type A, routine driven, time centered person, I felt lost and directionless. Spending more time at home made me think and feel more and more about my past, my present, and what might happen if and when this lockdown ended. 

So, I started a journal. A couple entries in, and many, many prayers for purpose in, the realization that I should share my story empowered my motivation. When I’m motivated, I’m motivated. I say what I mean, and I do what I say. I walked into the living room and told my husband that I was going to write a book. Not only was I motivated to write to help others, but I was motivated by the release of feelings and thoughts that had been bottled up. It was time to connect past to present in a way that would help others let down their guard, break stereotypes, and let people know that a person who strives for perfection in every way, didn’t have a perfect life after all. I’m an athlete, so writing chapters became like practicing and finishing the books became like winning. Selling the books became like championship titles. 

Once this motivation struck, I literally knocked out writing 4 books. The first two I had done by the end of the 3-month shut down period, and the final two I continued to write once I was able to return to work. Writing became my release and filled my time in a way that I so desperately needed. Writing motivated me to switch to survival mode and do what I needed to do. I continued to write after I went back to work because I had lost over 40% of my clients, so business was slower. Writing filled those slow times. 

Writing 4 books ( led to being hired to write 2 more. Sometimes we don’t know where our motivation will come from, and then one day we come to terms with why and how we should do something. I prayed for my purpose when my purpose was taken away. I couldn’t compete during that time, but I could use my athletic mindset to still win in my own way whether a pandemic stood in the way or not. 

Published by mindsetofathlete

I am a mental health professional in love with art, of various expressions. My career focuses on understanding health and fitness, acknowledging when a person has become unbalanced in their obligations, and determining the best customized approach for helping clients recover and heal. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, participating in outdoor activities, and exploring cuisines and cultural elements of my environment.

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