I’ve always felt the weight of the world on my shoulders, and that I’m responsible for many things that are out of my control. My anxiety has always told me that everyone and everything depends on me.
When I received my second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, I felt like I was on top of the world. For the first time in almost two years, I finally felt protected from COVID-19.
I continued to stay safe after being fully vaccinated by wearing my mask when going outside and in group settings, staying away from social gatherings and using hand sanitizer religiously.
Halfway through July, I woke up experiencing almost every symptom of COVID-19. My throat was sore, I couldn’t breathe from congestion and I couldn’t smell anything. My mom was convinced it was just a head cold.
The next night, I received a text message from my sister, saying she tested positive for COVID-19. I was terrified of passing the infection along to my coworkers, family and friends.
Minutes later I was forcing my mom to come with me to get tested as she was still convinced I just had a head cold and that my test results would come back negative.
I went to the local urgent care and told the nurse I needed a COVID-19 test. Deep down, I knew I had COVID-19, but I couldn’t admit it to myself. When the test result came back positive, I wasn’t surprised.
My sister began contact tracing in our family to find the source of who gave her COVID-19. It seemed as though every half an hour there was a new negative result. I prayed for someone else to get a positive test result too so I wouldn’t be the one for my sister to blame.
Unfortunately, all signs led back to me giving her COVID-19.
I was an anxious mess for days. I stayed in my room and refused to leave our apartment. I nervously waited for text messages from my coworkers telling me their results.
While I kept my diagnosis to myself, my mom told all of her friends who are predominantly against the COVID-19 vaccines.
Although she never told me their reactions, I already knew what they were thinking.
“How did Julia get sick if she’s vaccinated? What’s the point of the vaccine? Why should I bother?”
For the longest time, I felt like I was a spokesperson for vaccines. I wrote articles about the vaccines, sent credible information to family and friends and had important conversations about why I was vaccinated.
By getting sick I felt as though I lost credibility with of all the anti-vaxxers I had been talking to.
I had to realize it wasn’t my fault for getting COVID-19, and it wasn’t my fault when my sister contracted the virus. My county was experiencing high rates of transmission and there was nothing more I could do.
While the worst of my experience with the virus is over, I’m still anxious about how people will react when I tell them I was infected over the summer.
I often remind myself I’m not alone in feeling like this. There are hundreds of people who must feel similar to me, and I wish I could remind them it wasn’t their fault either.