Bowen Center

COVID Chronicles

"We're all in this together"

Insight and Reflection from the Bowen Center.

Over the past two months we have all been challenged to continue living “normal” lives in very abnormal times. Finding new ways to work, exercise and socialize from home, are just a few of the many daily tasks we have had to find adjustments to. Everyone has their own unique story to tell about how they are adjusting.

The Covid Chronicles is a collection of first-person accounts detailing how the COVID-19 pandemic and its shelter-in-place orders, has affected the lives of Bowen Center clients and staff members.

These are some of their stories…


COVID Chronicles -- Devin



My times here has flown.

I came just when the stay-at-home order was put into place by Governor Cuomo.

The structure and creativity that Able house has provided me during this time of uncertainty has helped keep my spirits high.

We made face masks for ourselves and for others and participated in the #VirtualHighFive photo challenge – posting positive messages on our hands to spread love and appreciation to others and to our heroes, the frontline workers.

I have a few friends and relatives that are ER nurses and essential workers, one of the being my mother.

During this crisis I have been provided with the support and concern that I need to remain vigilant in my own personal recovery. The stability that I find here helps me be stable, which helps me be emotionally available for my friends and family who are doing the hard work of saving lives and keeping us safe and well-fed.

Stay safe. Don’t forget to wash your hands and then sanitize them. Wear a face mask and gloves. Know that I’m thinking every person that reads this, wishing them good fortune and an abundance of good health for them and their loved ones.



The emergence of the Coronavirus has had a big impact on my life and has coincided with my progression through early sobriety.

Two weeks into my stay COVID 19 came about. I attend all house meetings and groups.

Still having time on my hands, I try to maintain a positive mindset.

I keep busy by working on the steps, reading, listening to music,

working out, playing board games with my peers and even karaoke.
There is always something to do.

By the end of the night I do my chores daily detail, shower and go to bed.

This pandemic has taught me to sit still. I can have fun without having to go out. I enjoy

the company of my peers and we stick together as a family. We practice social distancing. And stay protected. I have found different ways to still enjoy life. I am so grateful for being here and being safe. I thank all the staff for keeping us protected.

Most of all I thank God. For all things are possible if we have faith.



The emergence of the Coronavirus has had a big impact on my life and has coincided with my progression through early sobriety.

As of April 20th, I am 288 days sober [9 months and 13 days], and a proud resident of A.B.L.E. House, a 20-bed residence, in East Harlem, for men and women that provides a home-like, drug-and-alcohol-free environment where individuals strengthen the skills necessary for community integration.

Our home is located in one of the hardest hit areas in the entire world – New York City, and our lockdown began on Friday, March 13th. The widespread virus has had a profound effect on my mental and physical health. The virus has demonstrated all to clearly how fragile and fleeting our lives can be. With the current worldwide death toll approaching 170,000, it is more important than ever to show love and gratitude to your family and friends. The Coronavirus has strengthened my resolve in my sobriety and continued recovery. Today I value my mental and physical health more than ever and realize how truly blessed I am.

I have chosen to utilize the downtime the pandemic has caused in a positive way to work on myself, both inside and out. During this time, I have taken a step back to reflect on my recovery, what areas I am doing well in and which areas I can improve on. I have focused a lot of time and energy on improving my physical health during our isolation. I have been working out daily and making sure I eat as healthy as possible. Working out significantly, helps improve my mental and physical health.

The emergence of the Coronavirus has been a reminder that being sober does not stop life from throwing curveballs and obstacles my way. Even though I am now sober, life will continue to happen. The pandemic has been an example that difficult things will always be prevalent in my life and that what counts the most is how effectively I am able to deal with them. When I was using drugs and alcohol I never dealt with my problems and issues. I ran from anything that was hard to deal with and stuffed it down deep inside. Through my 9+ months of sobriety I have learned to deal with problems as they come and that has greatly improved my mental health.

The Coronavirus has caused devastation and tragic loss worldwide and brought with it the need to adapt and change. Before starting my journey of recovery, I would not have been able to manage and cope with the obstacles and array of feelings that the pandemic has caused. My sobriety along with the support of my family and my peers and counselors at A.B.L.E. House, I can make the best of the difficult time we are going through.

Thank you to all the staff at A.B.L.E. House for the support and help through this tragic time. I am truly blessed to be here and eternally grateful for all the staff has done for me.

Thank You and God Bless.




My experience with Covid-19 has been very challenging, especially accompanied by my senior citizen mom.

I deeply miss my dog each day and hoping to pick him up in Puerto Rico now in the month of May. My depression has increased due to triggers caused in the household but I’m trying my best to keep as sane as possible. Money has been a huge factor which I am only receiving snap benefits. My older brother hits me up from time to time, but it is rough to be without any cash. I’ve applied for cash assistance as well as SSI, although it isn’t helping at the moment.

Though I’m taking my meds, my smoking habits have increased due to anxiety. Also, I have been working well with my therapist Dana Lyttle on a weekly basis along with completing assignments.

Overall, I’m just trying each day to keep up with my immediate needs and hoping to hear better news from you all. I want to thank you for the clothes drive assistance which I highly appreciate.

Care Management provided Alex with t-shirts, sweatpants, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, and socks.




Child and adolescent clients have their own reactions to the pandemic too, and they are also able to pick up on the feelings that their mom, dad, or grandparents might be having. It’s important for them to be able to express their thoughts and emotions, and to understand that others are feeling the same way.

Being able to connect with my clients over Zoom has been so valuable to me, and I am inspired by how resilient they can be.

For some clients, music is a way to express loss and anxiety. One client who knew someone who passed away from COVID-19 chose to process his feelings by writing a song for her. Some clients are using this time to learn new skills, like how to play the guitar and how to use music software. And some want to sing along to their favorite songs and get creative by turning household objects into musical instruments.

They’ve used water bottles, books, combs, and plastic containers to make percussion. They are giving us great reminders about how we can grieve, adapt, and “create in a time of destruction.”

During my quarantine, I’ve been turning to music during times when I feel especially down or distressed.
Here are some things anyone can do at home to promote mental health:

    1. Sing! Singing can regulate your breathing and your heart rate, helping you feel calm – and it can also be a great mood-booster if you’re singing your favorite songs. In the shower, while you wash the dishes, or during a family sing-along, put on a playlist that you love and sing or hum.
    2. Use music as a self-care timer. Choose a couple self-care songs that are comforting, relaxing, or fun for you. If you are feeling overwhelmed or distressed, give yourself permission to step away from everything else that is going on and listen to your self-care songs. Focus on just the music – you can sing or dance along if you want. As long as the song is playing, you are allowing yourself to take a break, and that is ok.
    3. Connect with friends and family by sharing music that you love. You can have a Zoom dance party, make a shared playlist together on Spotify, or just trade songs over text. Right now, it might be hard to stay in touch and feel connected. Sometimes you can say more with music than with words, and it can be more fun too.


Elizabeth Wilson
Bowen Center Music Therapist