Baktybala, Kazakhstan

Here the situation wasn’t too bad. I’m from Kazakhstan. We are a developing country so we can’t afford to keep everything closed. In general, everything’s okay. Everyone is happy, probably just confused with the whole situation.

I remember that at the beginning the hospitals were collapsing. I have had ulcerative colitis for 17 years now and I have to go to the hospitals every two months to get my medicine. As everything was full it was really hard to get them. It seems like, for a moment, no other disease existed but COVID. This is not an easy medicine to get. You can’t find it everywhere. Thankfully, the government covers the expenses of the treatment, because it’s really expensive.

For the first time since the pandemic started, I felt like people could understand me, because I can’t go out much because of my condition. Naturally, all these changes provoked a change in people. I have changed too. So much. My whole life has changed: I’m going through a divorce right now. We were together for nine years and we were married for two. Sometimes I can’t believe it. But I get it. When one person changes in a relationship sometimes the other person can’t adapt or can’t even understand it. Before the pandemic I had a blog about my disease, with the objective to help other people who have it as well. But it got out of control, so I decided to change the direction of the project to a self-love conversation. I want to help women to love and focus on themselves and transmit that thought through photography.

The pandemic changed everything. For me it has also changed my relationship with other people. I started to be more open. I study psychology so when I talk to people we talk about their emotions, feelings and sometimes about sex. In a way it’s funny because in all post-soviet countries these topics are treated as a taboo, especially sex. We don’t even get sex education at school. I would like to work on this. To draw the way for the development of sex education.

I’ve been thinking about my disease and how it has forced me to adapt. That’s what happens every time something changes, we must adapt to something new. I see how everything is connected, and how the different stages of my life have led me to this point. I took antidepressants for four years. I stopped using them when the pandemic started. I started going to therapy and I was learning a lot thanks to my career. It was somehow inevitable for me not to change. Changes make me happy, especially this one. Compared to five years ago when I was struggling a lot both physically and mentally, this transformation has been great for me.

For me every day is a challenge. But things are much better now. Mostly after the antidepressants. They used to shut down my emotions, now I’m able to feel them and go through them. That is why I don’t accept difficulties. It is always a good time to improve yourself and evolve, especially in times of crisis. This pandemic was a good way to show us all how connected we are. And how everything is connected to perception. Even if it’s hard, I think we should change our perception towards change and the new possibilities that are coming.

After all I’ve been through, I’m convinced that you may need help and you can ask for it, but no one can really take your pain away. That’s up to you. You should be strong enough to process your feelings. You must heal yourself.