Fatima Gilbert is the Personal Assistant to our MD and has been part of the WOF family for 3 years. She is fiercely passionate about all she does and describes herself as tenacious and persistent. As a mother, she has instilled a sense of excellence in her family as work duties may require additional attention after hours, however, she maintains a healthy balance of mind and body, throughout it all. Fatima recently spoke at our annual Women’s Month Conference and shared about how she overcame COVID19 twice.
“The purpose of me sharing my story is not to scare you, but is with the intention of helping to alleviate your fears. The most important things to know about how to handle COVID is firstly that if you are showing symptoms, get tested. It is the safest thing to do. If you then test positive, consult a doctor. Isolate. You do not want to spread this virus.
Covid was quite the experience for me. I had it twice. I was diagnosed positive for the first time on 24 June and I came out of my first 14 day isolation on 7 July. For those who know me, you would know that I need to keep busy. I was stuck in my room for 14 days knowing that the rest of my family was negative. It is in this time that fear started creeping up on me and my mind started playing silly games. Things ‘got real’.
As a woman, as a mother, I was worried whether I would live and make it through. I worried whether I would ever get healthy again. Would I need to go to hospital? Would I need to rely on oxygen? These were some of the questions I asked myself. We have all heard the stories in the media and from friends and family. At the time I tested positive we were in the third wave and the statistics were horrific. I have 3 sons and a husband. I worried about what my family would eat. I wondered if they would be able to cope without me. I am the glue in my home.
Another fear was whether I would pass this virus to someone else. I had heard previous stories like this. I sat in isolation with all these fears. I worried whether I would be a burden to my family. The experience of being dependent on my family went against so many of my norms, but I had no choice but to isolate.
My symptoms were severe and I ticked most of the boxes. On top of this, I got my period which further drained me. I got depressed, felt frustrated and had heightened anxiety, still worrying about everything and everyone around me. I worried about my work and whether I would catch up and I worried about my boss, whether he would cope without me. Eventually I made it to the other side of the 14 days but I was not myself. On the 28th July, I tested positive for COVID 19 again. I got a second bout which meant an additional 10 days of isolation. When I first heard the news I was shattered. By this point my mental state was bad. I had to seriously drive myself to snap out of it and get on with it. The next day I woke up early, before my morning prayers and I told myself: This is the will of God, accept it and fight it with the help of God.
Mental wellness during isolation is important when fighting this illness. What made me make it through is my worth. My worth to my family. My worth to my friends. My worth to my work. My worth to the under-privileged. I needed to fight and get through it. My support structure made a huge difference in making this possible. I got so much support from my colleagues, from the Social Development Department, from my boss and of course my family and friends.
This experience made me thankful for things I had taken for granted. Taste and smell are important and you only miss it when it’s not there. I was thankful for having a home where I could isolate comfortably. I was thankful, that although to me my experience was terrible, God has spared my life and I am here today.
As women, we are strong. We put our responsibility for others first and don’t take time to create for ourselves. In this time my husband and children had to step up. They had to do the cooking and the shopping and they stepped up. It was these little things that they took for granted that made my family realise how important I am in the home. After this experience, I have realised that I need to be whole and I need to be solid in order to accomplish everything for everyone. We have to start putting ourselves first. Our health first and make sure that we are good first. Be safe, look after yourself.
Every storm is a part of your journey, yes you will make it through this one too. You will come out stronger than you were before.”