Hi! I’m Kathleen from the Philippines. I am currently a 17 year old who is soon to enter the real world. I find joy in learning new things and sharing them with others. This can go from ranges of sciences to people to my own experience, and it is an honor to be able to write them in a platform such as this. I am a teen who dreams to change the world by listening to others as well as sharing my story.
By Phillipine editorial staff
Kathleen Anne Bulan, Philippines
Our lives these past two years have been revolving around a non-living creature that has made hundreds of millions of people suffer around the world. This COVID-19 pandemic has been going on to the point that it has become the normal that we are used to. Adjusting back to what was before is beyond imaginable as cases in our country are not projected to decrease anytime. As a teen, even with the number of people affected by this virus, it always felt very distant. Yes, we have been staying at home for our health and safety, being cautious in everything we do because of the dangers outside.
However, there was always this feeling of it being far away from our family and the people we loved. It was always just stories by other people as no one we really knew suffered greatly. We have been just playing it safe either way, trying to be model citizens of the world and adapting to this new way of life. That is, until we got to experience it ourselves.
August 19, 2021, the day we got our positive results for COVID-19. Our family, composed of my parents, my siblings, and I, all felt the mild symptoms of the virus. There was discomfort, constant headache and cough, the loss of smell and taste, even sore throat that we can barely talk. Doing anything can make you run out of breath. Having COVID-19 is indeed an experience. Our whole family got sick but we need to all be there and provide for each other. Thankfully, we had an amazing support system who took care of us with the many food, fruit and medicine deliveries. The physical challenges are already a given. Rest, medicine, and constant monitoring would be able to heal those symptoms. But something that came with the virus that never really sunk in was the emotional and mental battle one had within.
The moment I found out that we had COVID-19, there was this natural underlying feeling of alienation and blame. Looking back now, I have no clue as to why I felt this way. It was just that first instinct. I believe it was about being quarantined and feeling so far away from the normal world, those who were living normally. Your physical conditions along with the symptoms affect your state of mind. I also had this burden of being the only unvaccinated member of our family. There was the constant battle of “Am I gonna be okay?” and “Is this something we can get through?” Such was the anxiety and panic that you need to endure due to the uncertainty of the whole situation. There was the need to check your oxygen levels every hour, hoping that it is still in the safe range that you wouldn’t need to go to the emergency room to take different medicines just so you can sleep soundly. The atmosphere of the house also felt different. It was not only I that felt uncertain, but that energy radiated to everyone in our family, even if it was never said out loud. Between us, our only concern is to care for ourselves and for the other to be better, adjusting to each other to protect one another. An example would involve household chores. It was a matter of who felt the best among all of us, who felt bad, and each would contribute their own act of love by resting or by doing.
Our lives were halted and daily routines were changed. It was not only the physical, emotional, and mental effects that this virus brought, but we needed to stop everything for those weeks that we were sick. We halted but the world did not. It was my second day in class when we got the symptoms and positive test result. Your Junior Year in high school is a vital time for you to establish your future. I felt so excited and ready to step into this stage of life, just to find out that two days in, I had to stop. It was only natural to feel frustrated with the whole situation even weeks after because of the effects the virus had. Especially as we are in online classes, there were no more borders between life and school. Your life is school. I felt guilty for missing class even if I was suffering from COVID-19 that same time. Nevertheless, following consultation with my doctor and my parents, we went back to class after several weeks. The weight of that week coming back felt similar to the weight of when I got that positive result. You may call me crazy for comparing school with the virus but it proved to me the pressure that these responsibilities had upon me. This virus did not only affect me for two weeks that I had it but even now, a month later, my body has not been the way it was. Being in the fourth week of our curriculum in school, I genuinely felt that my mind was going 10x in speed but my body was breaking down because it couldn’t keep up.
One month in, it has been a whole 30 days after this event that has affected our lives through and through. It has currently been 720 hours of my life that I experienced and am experiencing COVID-19 and its effects. Through the whole experience, I realized that it was common sense to consider this virus as bad. But at this point, I would rather look back into it with a better perspective. I do not want to look back at these past 30 days of my life full of suffering because it wasn’t. Our family dynamic and relationship deepened going through it together. My faith in God was tested and strengthened through this experience. I learned more about myself, more than I can ever imagine and here are a few. I was reminded of the importance of taking things slowly. I was always used to running at full speed with whatever I do but it has taught me to learn things again with baby steps. I used to exercise until my body could not but now, I must learn to listen to my body and its limitations. Another important realization is the gift of that one chance in life. We might not have had a severe case of the virus, thankfully, but it makes you believe in yourself to live this life the best you can, doing things that make you happy and keeping people in your life that you care about. That is, to live thinking of my present moment and those around me. Last is to give enough credit to yourself. This was the most recent revelation, thanks to a friend of mine. I never really thought about what I have survived but always what would be next. This experience reminded me to give myself enough recognition that you have survived this virus and are still moving forward.
How did COVID-19 affect a 16-year-old in the Philippines? Based on what I wrote before, it has affected me quite a lot. Both physically and emotionally, it has helped me to be stronger in both aspects, forcing me in fact, to grow up and live a life for a better world. I hope that my experience helped you understand my story these past 720 hours or 30 days of the virus and its effects. To whoever is going through it now, I just wanted to say that only you can get through it and fight with all you can. A person from the other side of the world is constantly cheering for you every single day. Stay Safe and Thank you!