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Can I Be Honest? I Didn't Want to Test Negative For COVID-19

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Hyper-independence is something that I struggle with. From a young age, I witnessed women and elders in my family “do it all,” never taking into consideration asking for help. Sometimes they didn’t because they knew it wasn’t available, but mostly because they didn’t trust others to get what they needed done correctly. Add in my first hand experience with trauma and abuse, I became a one woman machine – never ever breaking or stopping, afraid that people would see that I’m not some super hero, and instead that I’m just human.

Insert the song, “Surface Pressure” from Disney’s “Encanto.”

Then I contracted COVID-19. 

Prior to catching Ms. Rona, I had run myself into the dirt, working three jobs, tending to every adult issue alone, and keeping house. I couldn’t continue to do that. If I did, I risked over-exerting myself which would heighten my chances at having long COVID-19. 

So, I pulled back and did something I rarely do – asked for help. 

I called friends daily asking them to grocery shop, pick things up, and more. I listened to medical advice and stayed put, which was hard the first couple of days. I battled severe anxiety as a budding workaholic (a whole separate issue that I’m genuinely not ready to battle), but then I grew used to staying put, and I (somehow) felt relaxed.

Well, as relaxed as someone could be while being COVID-19 positive.

I watched movies, and settled into a nesting period where I made my home and space pretty. I taught my dog a new trick, and read books. I called out of work with no guilt. I was mindful – somehow able to stay in the moment every second of my 10 day quarantine. Outside of the aggressive stressors of having a super viral disease that’s killed hundreds of thousands of people, I was actually at peace, which feels very weird to say out loud, but it’s the truth. On top of that, I was having friends call me to check up on me daily. They were super responsive and I really felt cared for and tended to.

As my time in quarantine came to a close, I realized that my return back to the hecticness of life was creeping closer. I’d have to go back to being superwoman again, and that scared me. The second I tested negative, the world would expect the absolute most from me, and I didn’t want to give that anymore. 

Being forced to focus on myself was a blessing in disguise. I dreaded testing negative, so I put it off as long as I could. Finally the moment came, and my being babied by others (in a good way) and focusing on me was over.

I’ve been negative for weeks now, and I can’t deny the part of me that misses being COVID-19 positive, only because I felt a certain love and tenderness from my community that I don’t always feel. Obviously, I don’t want to catch COVID-19 again, and I’m very aware of how it has disrupted millions of lives around the world, but what I learned from my experience is crucial.

I want the world to expect less from me. 

I want the same attentive care I got when I was sick, because now I’m fine and I feel like no one gives a shit about me anymore. I’m back to being everything for everyone else, instead of simply being everything to myself. 

I could say that I learned it’s OK to put myself first after living with COVID-19. I should say that I’m going to attack life differently, with self-care first and foremost, but in reality I don’t know how to do that quite yet. Without being forcibly sat down, I don’t know if I can close the laptop, walk away, and actually rest the way that my soul needs.

I didn’t want COVID-19, but I also didn’t want to return to the real world. Maybe one day I’ll learn balance, but until then we push on and keep it moving. 

Lead image courtesy of contributor

Originally published: January 27, 2022
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