“I killed the virus mom.”
When I told my son he had the virus, he told me one thing. “I killed the virus mom.” Perhaps if I had approached 2020 with the same confidence as my son, I wouldn’t be picking up the pieces that I am now.
I quarantined for roughly six months to avoid Covid. I quarantined with strict guidelines and hyper vigilance. I did not visit stores or go in public at all, except for essential doctor appointments.
I bought into the hype completely and abruptly eliminated everything that brought happiness into my life, including my friends and family. I cut off everyone while pregnant and during my postpartum period, which was a time I needed a support system most. I made these sacrifices to do everything I could to avoid Covid.
I knew I didn’t create an impenetrable shield but I thought I created a small circle with relatively minimal exposure. Which is why I was shocked that I was the first person I knew to catch Covid. I learned an important lesson, I’ll never let myself be led by fear again. Because although I caught Covid, living in fear hurt more.
Everything I did was based on fear of our family getting sick. My goal wasn’t to avoid the virus and the world forever, just while my newborn was the most vulnerable.
If my three-year-old son could explain it to you, he would say we conquered Covid. In most ways, he’s right and we were very lucky.
My Covid battle was not what I expected after spending months reading about it. I was not prepared to wear a mask around my children. To tell them to take a step back from me, fearing their own well-being. Nothing about it felt right.
It was further unsettling to have no idea where I caught this dirty virus. Despite our near complete isolation, I still cannot answer this question.
Our Family Had Mild Symptoms
As for the virus itself, I experienced fever, muscle aches, and a complete loss of taste. If I wasn’t a mom of two still recovering from childbirth, it’s likely I could have fought off the virus with even more mild symptoms, but even in my worn down condition, it was still mild. What hurt worse than the physical symptoms was the fear that I would give the deadly virus to my children. How could I live with myself?
Luckily my children and husband, including my barely 7 week old infant, presented minimal symptoms. My husband had an upset stomach and our three-year-old was sick with a fever for a day. I still cannot taste anything, but my family was left unscathed by a virus that potentially crashed our economy, destroyed our collective mental health, and left lives in its wake. So in some ways, our victory over the virus still tastes sweet.
My mental health lost this battle. Everything I relied on for balance and happiness was slowly taken away. My friends, the gym, and social outings entirely, were all eliminated. In their place, I became fearful of an invisible monster, living a shadow of a life in submission to that fear.
I Let Fear Into Our Home
When I used to see people not taking precautions, I felt confused, jealous, and sad. It’s as if seeing others live regularly emphasized the gap between me and the world I loved and missed. Fear kept me from living any sort of life.
I unknowingly allowed fear into our home. Our three year old, a once outgoing child, now is afraid of people. His world once so big, is now so small as he only sees our immediate family. He is resilient and I know he will bounce back.
Overall our family and society continues to suffer consequences from the isolation, foremost fighting against agoraphobia, reminiscent of Helen Hudson in Copycat. With all of this in mind, I keep returning to the same question, were all my “reasonable precautions” worth it?
It’s always easier to be critical of decisions made with the benefit of hindsight. But in this instance, experience taught me a lot about myself and my fear.
It’s never okay to live according to fear or buy wholesale into a narrative that isn’t my own. It’s so important to remain vigilant and critical about information. In the future I promise to myself and family to always make assessments based on my own risk tolerance, not someone else’s and to not crumble to fear.
I’m someone who rarely gets the flu shot, another potentially deadly virus. So why this virus, why did it lead to a near mental breakdown? Hormones, babies, pregnancy, these all were contributing factors but I can’t ignore the fact that I soaked up every negative piece of information I obtained. It kept me up at night and I became indulgent to bask in the latest virus intel. Up at 3 a.m.? Check the news and latest virus numbers. Up at 4 a.m.? Read the latest research on which kind of mask is worthless. Hardly logical since I didn’t go into public anyway. I thought I was being vigilant staying on top of the latest information. But I wasn’t, I was being led by fear and paranoia.
Fear is paralyzing. My fear of the virus paralyzed me. I’m so thankful the virus did not inflict its ugliest side to our family however I should not have allowed fear into our home. It is something I will never allow to happen again. I vow to stay positive and strong during uncertainty because the only thing we truly have to fear is fear itself.