DESPITE all the layers of protection I had put between myself and coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), I still got infected. By protection, I mean following all the public health protocols: face mask, face shield, physical distancing, etc. Yet, somehow, the virus still got me -- a few days before I was supposed to receive my first dose of vaccine.

My body rejected any food I forced myself to eat. Each spoonful was a battle in itself – I would have to cover my mouth with my hand and raise my head to swallow the food. Many times, I couldn’t even finish a single cup of rice, and it took about a lifetime for me to consume my meals. It was such a struggle.

The body pains, especially on my joints, came like jolts of electricity through my bones. Moving around the room was difficult.

I could only think of two things: how to keep my parents and siblings from getting infected, and how would I pay my bills in the next weeks. I was sure I'm going to live but my anxiety sank in more deeply as I began putting the pieces together.

I was admitted to the hospital for more than a week, spent another two weeks in isolation, and so on. I realized that the physical struggle was just half of the battle. There is Covid beyond Covid. The other half is reserved for the emotional and mental roller coaster. We have been reminded to take care of our physical state because we are experiencing a pandemic crisis. But there is a certain aspect of the Covid-19 experience that people rarely talk about. And that’s our mental and emotional state.

Not only did I lose my appetite and my routine, but I also lost one of everybody's most basic needs—human interaction and connection with the people I know. It felt like my life had time skips and I was forced to live in an alternate timeline. It felt like being abducted by aliens and being sent back to earth after physically recovering. It was a struggle stepping back into reality.

When you’re left alone to battle a disease that experts are just starting to know how to handle, remembering how many of your peers did not make it through, you'll be in survival mode. If I survive this, I will make it up – to my family, my colleagues, and the world.

In the comfort of my isolation room, I thought of how many others are cramped in small spaces, and how difficult it must be for poorer families who live in slums in other parts of the world to even maintain any sort of physical distance.

Now I'm back at work, ready to pick up where I left off. My road to recovery was rough, but I'm sure it’s not as bad as many others we have witnessed or read about on the internet.

But I wish to remind people we can all fight this if we stay at home, stick to the facts, and still be connected while we’re physically distanced. It’s a small sacrifice compared to what the disease does to those who experienced it, and this way we can still be united in solidarity.

Covid-19 may have given me the scare of my life, but it has also built me stronger. Like over a million survivors across the world, I am one with the story to tell and the heart for it.

When the time comes that the antibody tests can be proven effective... I will be one of the first to volunteer to share my antibodies and try to save even just one life and try to keep one family intact.