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Maryland Department of Health


Memories of Loneliness and Fear Persist

Alexis Rabbani
Montgomery County

“I was calling out to a higher power and saying if this virus was going to take me that I was ready to go. I had accepted that if it was to be my outcome, I was ready to die.”

Alexis, 44, suspected she had more than a sinus infection on March 26. The paralegal was sent home by her employer when she began to show signs of illness. 

When she came home, Alexis began to feel worse – developing a dry cough, fatigue and a fever. Four days later, on March 30, Alexis was tested for the virus and began to isolate in her basement apartment. She received a positive diagnosis for COVID-19 on April 6.

Although the first week of the illness was tough, the second phase of COVID-19 was brutal for Alexis. Her fever would not break, staying with her for over two weeks and peaking at 104 degrees for several days.

 Although very ill, she did not hospitalize herself. “Other people needed those beds more than I did, and a part of me was just a bit worried that if I did go, I might never leave,” Alexis says.

At her lowest point during her sickness, she laid in bed thinking she couldn’t take another day.

As a former Florida transplant, most of Alexis’ family is outside the DMV area. As she dealt with the virus alone in her basement apartment, the distance between her and her Florida family seemed magnified. “I was alone and terrified,”  Alexis says.

Alexis coped by virtually connecting with family, local friends and a compassionate landlord. They were her connection to the outside world and helped her with calls, video conferencing and grocery deliveries.

Alexis said she managed the depression she was feeling by avoiding wall-to-wall news. She binge-watched all of Game of Thrones and also found tapping into her funny bone was helpful in both distracting her from the virus and making light of it too.

 When she did tune-in for news, it was CNN’s Chris Cuomo that was most helpful, as his own journey of COVID-19 played out live each night and began at the same time as Alexis’ own case.

When she emerged from her apartment after a month in isolation, she was surprised and a bit scared to see how empty the normally busy streets were. She ran a few necessary errands and checked in at the office, but upon returning home feelings of desolation returned as well. 

“This is where it had all happened and I had been stuck for such a long time. I feel like I have a form of PTSD from my experience,” Alexis says.

Due to the depth of her struggle, Alexis wanted to share her story, hopefully helping others dealing with similar aspects of trauma and depression from their time with COVID. 

“I want to help. When I can I want to donate blood and do whatever I can do to help. There’s so much I want people to know about COVID-19. There is stigma with this virus, and there is depression. It took a toll on my body and my soul,” she says.