My name is Stella Silvente and I’m the Trainee Supervisor of a busy seafood restaurant situated on the English coast.
I am currently undertaking my internship year under my current role as per the requirements of my degree in BA (Hons) International Hospitality Management. I have a lot of love for my industry and my commitment to it has created the most wholesome relationship to see me throughout life.
I needn’t write any form of introduction to COVID-19 as we are all very much aware of how our little green and blue planet has been poisoned. To cover the impacts of how this virus has hit our humanity is another story with a headline much broader. This is, however, My Story of how COVID-19 interrupted My health, My fitness, My service and My mental health.
Receiving the diagnosis made me panic. But panic made me think and act fast. Inform who needs to be informed, be diligent and responsible.
Contradictory to that was my delayed emotional reaction. I act then I react. Typically, I emotionally and mentally react to situations and events later on. My first responsive panic was myself panicking for the well-being and welfare of others, not myself. I have others to think about; a vulnerable person in the household, colleagues, guests, friends, the wider public. Be strategic.
The emotions and thoughts I’ve been experiencing since the end of my isolation period have however left me feeling plateaued, upset, strange, alienated and anxious. I was the only member of staff to test positive, the only friend and the only family member. This is good news but it made me sad, estranged and withdrawn to be the only one out of 30 or so people. It made me question a lot about myself, the virus and our government.
Contracting this virus has changed or dented parts of my life. These dents are now somewhat scratching my identity. I’m still too nervous to get back on my bike. When I first ever started cycling I remember being nervous, nervous to be in control of the bike. That’s my favourite part. Now, I’m nervous because I’m not in control of myself! My own body. It’s unpredictable. Long COVID brought me to shatters. I can explain in great detail what I felt physically. The episodes of what I can only describe as an extremely intense hangover. But think about that. Think about why hangovers happen. Imagine having one every day. To the point where you can’t actually pick up the phone to take a booking because you’re unable to speak. Your arms are struggling to hold the pen and your hand is struggling to grip it. You’re breathless, dizzy, exhausted and it hit you like a car crash.
The remnants of COVID in my body almost started to make me hate my body. I’m very much a your body is a temple type of individual. I try my best to take great care of it through diet, fitness, lifestyle and self-care. I was cycling 12 miles daily to and from work, working 12 hour shifts 5-6 days a week and I loved it. I’m not a heavy drinker but I do enjoy my wines and ales. It’s about breathing, smelling, tasting, feeling and enjoying. Aromatherapy is how I take care of my well-being. Its about breathing, smelling, feeling, enjoying. I’m quite good at unwinding after work, I know my virtues. When I lost my sense of smell and taste, I didn’t panic. I knew it would come back, I just had to be patient.
The Long COVID episodes weren’t meshing well with my asthma, my very mild asthma. I called the Dr for more inhalers and explained what had been going on since I returned to work. We considered whether my psyche was, too being affected by the COVID diagnosis. Perhaps I was still in panic mode, two weeks later? Maybe these Long COVID episodes are actually panic attacks? I spent a week on low dose diazepam and it helped, a lot. So maybe they were panic attacks? It confused me a lot. But then I was reading stories online of individuals with similar profiles to mine were experiencing the exact same thing. Young, fit, active and healthy people all feeling these crazy hangover Long COVID episodes. Those stories reassured me. Catching COVID-19 has hurt me. I’m not as fast as I was in the restaurant, I’m not as active. It doesn’t take much for me to get breathless. I went a good four years without the need for an inhaler and now I’m anxious to leave the house without one. I still fear that I could infect other people and its making me wonder whether I’ve developed mild OCD. I have to accept I’m not as fast-paced as I once was. It breaks my heart and a broken heart can disturb your mental health in numerous ways. My performance in our industry means everything to me and COVID has interfered with my self-esteem, self-worth and self-image.
This is my internship year away from university, training to become a supervisor and the best one at that.
If I can offer a piece of advice for anyone who may find this read somewhat therapeutic, consider aromatherapy. Create serene environments for yourself if and when you can. Make the time. Learn to unwind after service. Empty your apron and take it off. Research and try Oral Lavender Capsules and Valerian Root. Download therapeutic apps like Headspace, Calm or Gaia and listen to your body and treat it well. Take it easy. Look after yourself.