Student flatmates experiencing COVID-19
“In all honesty, I was really apprehensive, and I cried when I got back a positive result,” laughs nineteen-year-old Sophia, who was the first to test positive for COVID-19 in her Birkenhead flat.
Sophia, in her final year of study to become a primary school teacher, had been particularly afraid of COVID-19.
“I’ve been really scared of COVID, really scared.” On top of the fear of COVID-19 itself, Sophia didn’t want to be the first to test positive in her household. Feelings of guilt and shame were hard to shake.
But she soon realised she was in safe hands with her house of five flatmates. “Because I was the first one to test positive, I felt really bad, but everyone was nice to me and made me feel a lot better. They told me everything was gonna be fine.”
Soon after Sophia tested positive, another flatmate followed, so Sammy decided she needed to take a RAT (Rapid Antigen Test), too.
“I had no symptoms that day but I thought I’d just take a test anyway,” Sammy says.
Her positive result came as a real surprise. “Obviously I knew that the other two were positive, but I was honestly not expecting to be at all. So I was in shock, I was really shocked.”
Sammy, currently finishing her studies in nursing, found her mental health was hit hard by the realities of isolating during a busy time. “I got quite upset because I had lots of plans to see my family, which I obviously couldn’t do.”
A major “anxiety and stress” came when the pair realised they would be isolating during their first week of university. Even though they could take their classes online, they found they were feeling foggy and couldn’t sit and listen to lectures, and found it difficult to look at their screens at all. This brought them a lot of stress – knowing they had work to get done but being too unwell to do it.
COVID-19 symptoms differed between the flatmates.
“I was expecting it to be really bad. A friend of mine had it like a week before me and she was quite sick in bed” Sophia says. But, luckily, her symptoms were mild.
Sammy, on the other hand, had a tougher time. “When I get sick I usually don’t get that sick. So, when I was having the body aches I was a bit worried. I was scared it could get worse from that point. I always thought it was more like a cold, like you get it and then you get over it. I wasn’t expecting the longer lasting symptoms, like fatigue.”
Despite their difficulties missing university and going through the motions of individual symptoms, the pair found the real mental health struggles came after their physical symptoms had eased.
“Once I was feeling better, I just felt, like I’m just being lazy, I’m just sitting around,” remembers Sophia.
Sammy agrees. “When you feel really unwell, you’re fine staying home but it was a beautiful day outside every single day we were in isolation. I was definitely feeling more down.”