Kelsey's Story of Coping with Anxiety and Fear After Parents Diagnosed with COVID-19

Kelsey's Story of Coping with Anxiety and Fear After Parents Diagnosed with COVID-19
Kelsey's Story of Coping with Anxiety and Fear After Parents Diagnosed with COVID-19
Kelsey Cruz, a twenty year old, full time student was kind enough to share her experience of what it was like for her when her parents both tested positive for COVID-19. The following questions were asked in a 1 on 1 virtual interview.

During these difficult times many of us are fortunate enough to stay home and/or work. But what is it like for the families who have an essential worker in their home and wait for their parents/siblings/partner to return?  Kelsey Cruz, a twenty year old, full time student at Wilfrid Laurier University was kind enough to share her experience of what it was like for her when her parents both tested positive for COVID-19. The following questions were asked in a 1 on 1 virtual interview:

Where do your parents work/how long have they been working there?

“Both of my parents work at Credit Valley Hospital. My father has been working there for 20 years and my mother has been working there for 13 years.” 

What does their role involve?

“My mother works in the OR Booking Office. She books surgeries for all three sites at Trillium Health Partners. My father is a nurse for post-surgery patients, however, due to this pandemic, he is currently working in the COVID unit tending to patients who are recovering from their diagnosis.”

When were they required to go for testing for COVID-19?

“On March 27th, my father was called in to get tested due to a few of his other co-workers in his shift rotation testing positive for COVID-19. We had received his results on March 29th. My mother had gone in for testing on April 1st, once she presented symptoms, and received her results the following day.”

What were their results? How did this make you feel?

“They both tested positive. It felt surreal. At first I couldn’t believe it. The pandemic was something I knew was serious, but I didn’t think it would have directly affected my own family. It was overwhelming and heart-wrenching thinking of what my parents were going through. I was incredibly worried and concerned for both my brother and I. We were scared knowing how much higher of a chance it would be for either of us to get infected.”

Do you feel as though this has affected your personal mental health in a positive or negative way? (Would you mind sharing some examples?)

“Yes, it did negatively affect my personal mental health.

During our two week self-isolation period, it was difficult not being able to be in the same room as my family members, not being able to touch or converse with them like I regularly would. Overtime, my anxiety about the whole situation fired up, and I was also stressed about finishing off my semester at university.

The mix of still being in school and having a lot going on at home did impact my motivation. I let my anxiety about everything overwhelm me to the point that I didn’t want to continue with finishing my assignments or studying. I was able to receive a few extensions on some of my assignments, but that didn’t motivate me any further, which left many things to the very last minute.” 

Did you have to readjust your home life? If so, how? Did you have to take on more responsibilities?

Yes, we were all ordered to be isolated in our own separate rooms and bathrooms. My father had stayed in our guest room in the basement which had its own shower, while my mother stayed in their room, having their washroom to herself. However, since my brother and I share a bathroom, I would only use it for showering in those two weeks while using the half-bath on the main floor for other purposes.

 I did take on more responsibilities, especially with cooking and cleaning around the house. Public health had told us that there should be one designated cook, and I was allocated to the position after my mother had also tested positive for COVID. My brother and I divided the chores.”

How did you cope emotionally with the situation? Did you pick up any new strategies or hobbies in order to cope?

“I found it quite helpful to keep a regular schedule, typically waking up early in the morning, and getting dressed for the day despite not going anywhere. I also set up at a table to attempt to get work done. On days with warmer weather, I would spend a few hours in the morning in my backyard while enjoying a cup of coffee, and just embracing the chance of getting outside of the house, even if I was only two feet away from my home.

I also made sure to reach out to my friends, skyping them from time to time.

I’ve always loved art, so I would take some time out of my day to practice sketching, watercolouring or painting, which definitely helped in relaxing my mind regarding the situation.”

Do you have any additional tips to share for someone possibly going through a similar situation?

“I am not qualified to give advice but a message I could share for someone going through this is to truly take care of yourself, physically and mentally. Do things that you enjoy in the comfort of your home, stay connected with your friends and family. This is a serious situation and should not be taken lightly; keeping your distance (even from those in your own home) is essential. No matter how difficult it may be, keeping your distance brings us one step closer to flattening the curve.”

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