explainer

'I just had COVID. Here are 5 things no one tells you.'

Two weeks ago, I tested positive for COVID-19. 

In terms of my symptoms, I was pretty lucky to not get hit with the virus as hard as others. I'm fully vaccinated and thankfully, a pounding headache, a runny nose and a complete loss of taste and smell were the worst of my symptoms.

For me, the physical symptoms were not the worst part of having COVID. Instead, the mental challenge of being in isolation was the hardest part.

Watch: The horoscopes in isolation. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

The guilt, the shame, and the fear of making my friends and family unwell were tough feelings to overcome.

But now that I’ve made it out the other side, here are five things no one tells you about having COVID-19.

1. The feelings of shame.

The morning that I woke up to my positive result, I immediately felt anxious. I wasn’t super concerned about my own health as I believed that my vaccine was protecting me and I was already experiencing the worst of my symptoms already. 

But I immediately thought of every single friend, family member, and colleague I’d seen and immediately had to make the heavy phone calls.

One by one, I called each person to tell them the news that they would have to get a test and isolate. While most people were fine, there were certainly a mix of reactions - some not too concerned, some hanging up in shock, and the common response of, "We knew this would happen, eventually". 

In addition to that, this time of year is full of high emotions with the year coming to a close with Christmas parties, family catch ups, and other celebrations to attend.

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Putting my close contacts through isolation at a time like this was awful knowing many of them had to miss out on Christmas parties, birthdays, and even part of their income as they were forced into isolation.

2. The fear of infecting others.

I have multiple friends and family members who are immunocompromised that I had unfortunately added to my list of close contacts. 

I constantly felt weighed down by guilt that I had unknowingly infected them with a disease that could potentially make them extremely unwell. 

In the end, only two of my close contacts became infected with COVID-19. Considering my long list of close contacts, I was quite surprised that it wasn’t more. 

Even until my final days of isolation, I felt stressed awaiting everyone's test results knowing they could potentially return a positive test even without showing symptoms.

3. The phone calls with nurses, doctors and contact tracers.

I tested positive in the same week that rules regarding check-ins and mask mandates were lifted. This meant that the venues I had visited while potentially positive were likely not notified of a positive case. 

This was also just prior to the huge spike in cases in Sydney and Newcastle.

One of the last things you want to be doing while you’re unwell is being on phone call after phone call. Shortly after testing positive, I received multiple phone calls regarding contact tracing, health check-ups with nurses, and other calls from NSW Health.

While I had quite a smooth and straightforward experience with these calls, my close contacts that tested positive did not have the best experience. 

Amidst them both testing positive, NSW reached its highest number of cases meaning that nurses had an endless list of people to contact and were not able to get in touch with them until the end of their isolation periods. 

In their specific cases, they were fortunately not experiencing intense symptoms, however this certainly would have been a major concern if they had been severely unwell and/or living alone.

4. The stress of isolating when living with others.

I am currently living at home with my parents and my brother. I was restricted to accessing only my bedroom and bathroom during isolation with an occasional visit to the backyard while wearing a mask when I felt well enough to leave my room.

Being in a reasonably small house, it was highly likely that I could transmit the virus to my family.

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As a family, we took great measures to avoid this, however my brother also later tested positive to COVID-19, meaning he had to isolate in his bedroom as well. 

Despite this, having the help of my parents to make my meals - and the comfort of knowing they were close by if I needed them - was something I was extremely grateful for.

5. Approaching "normal" life post isolation.

While I now have antibodies, there is still a chance that I could contract the virus again and have to do this process all over again. 

Like many of us, I am avoiding going out at all costs considering Christmas is upon us. At a time when we come together with family and friends, there’s a fear of unknowingly spreading the virus to our loved ones.

As I’m slowly considering coming back to "normal" life, and carefully deciding what I should and should not do after leaving isolation, some of my friends have expressed that they’d prefer to avoid me for the next couple of weeks. 

On the other hand, some of my friends who have been through COVID-19 themselves are more than happy to see me now. 

Even though I am no longer infectious and have been medically cleared to leave isolation, I still feel a sense of shame in telling people that I recently had COVID-19 in fear that they will be frightened of being around me.

How to help a family member or friend with COVID-19.

If you know someone that has recently tested positive for COVID-19, let them know you’re there to help and listen.

Offer to buy them groceries, give them a call or text to check in, and offer to help them with tasks that they can’t get to.

As anyone who is currently in isolation with COVID-19, this is my advice. Don’t feel pressure to be productive. You’re unwell. It’s okay to take this time to rest and recharge.

Try not to feel guilty - remind yourself, we’re going through a global pandemic. If you have infected others, it is not your fault.

And finally, switch off from social media. Trust me, it helps.

The author of this story is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous for privacy reasons.

Feature Image: Getty.

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