How are you? I mean, really, how are you? Going by the COVID-19 pandemic impact on the population there are bound to be long-term repercussions from a socioeconomic and psychological standpoint. The rise of fear and anxiety among people, due to uncertainty of the disease are coupled with socially disruptive measures like lockdowns and quarantines.
I asked a group foreigners, who live in Greece to describe and express their feelings, about how they experience the pandemic and lockdowns of the past months. Our soul seeks happiness and inner peace, our spirits seek human contact. People, immediately started texting me. I did not expect such a great response. Feelings do not have age or nationality. Humans, by nature, are social beings seeking for other people around them. We seek for our freedom and a happy life.
Various feelings, different views, but one thing is mutual: freedom. Freedom to express yourself, freedom to feel and to seek your freedom.
The following words are from the people who replied and shared their feelings with me. I consider it my duty to convey, as many details as possible.
“FINE: finding it never ending. The “it” being restrictions, uncertainty, the exhausting length of it all. There is a battle between FOMO (fear of missing out) and FOGO (fear of going out). We find courage in encouraging each other, by providing sparks to keep the light alive and keep fear and despair at bay. How are we? Some say Fine. I say Together. We are together, and that gives me hope.” -Ryan
“I fled an abusive relationship some years ago with my son. We flew to my home country. We came back. After many troubles created, I am a single mom. I lost my low-paid job because of covid in August. My child suffers from anxiety and is hyperactive from not getting out for school/sports. I was already suffering immensely from being lonely, with no support and ressources as a single mother, but now it’s just exacerbated even more. I’m currently taking Greek classes to help me become more autonomous.” -A brave woman and mother
“Anxious, frustrated, sad, nervous. All days are the same. Working at home, you finish late with no way to go out eating, sleeping or working. it is not a life, it is a horrible life.” -Radwane
“Lonely, foggy brain, starving for hugs and kisses from my family and friends.” -Liza K.
“I have a chronic health condition and have been in quarantine for over 5 Years due to being on the bed. Actually, now, I moved to Greece. I can walk with some family, so I’m better now, during COVID, than I have been in 5 years. I know what it’s like; the first year is the worst.” – Maria
“I have been playing guitar again this year, more than I have in the last fifteen years” -Jason
“I am perfectly fine, thanks to my dog, who keeps me sane, minimum 10,000 steps a day and to my husband, who is always there for me. I haven’t given up on traveling. I flew twice to home (USA) to see my family. There is no way I can go a year without seeing them. Started eating more healthy (less order-ins). I advanced in my home cooking, started finishing up the house repairs that needed. Started Greek lessons and I like not going to school, but doing it online. I only miss my hairdresser, long dinner tables, movies and concerts. All family and friends are healthy and that’s all that matters.“ -Deniz
“I am actually feeling very lonely and a bit desperate. I moved to Crete more than one year ago and mainly because of the situation, I haven’t managed to make many friends. Going back to my country to visit my family and friends is difficult. I don’t deal with it. I’m just waiting and hoping the normal life will come back” -Aleksandra
“We are feeling a bit lonely and are getting frustrated. The government really needs to loosen up the regulations a bit. We have started to debate if we should go home earlier than we discussed, because we’re all just stuck.” – Luke
“Mostly frustration, exacerbation, anger of how many stupid people are in this world. Unable to change their opinions, with arguments and reasoning. And realizing we live together in the same society, their actions affect me, whether i want it or not.” -Akvile
“I lost a very special friend on November 19th, So, I am really pissed, sad and depressed.” -Leandra
“Confused, angry and lonely, too. Feeling the pressure to stay positive, but really wanting to scream. Luckily, we just moved to Saronida. I wouldn’t have survived in the melting pot in Athens. The silence and the waves are healing my heart. God is faithful.” -Tonje
“Happy and organizing new ways of doing things. I have a family, dogs, cats and horses to keep me busy and we all cook very well.” – Elisabetta
“We are not fine. Our cafe is closed, not for good, but no real income. My bakery didn’t work, our Airbnbs are empty. We are draining our savings hence, very stressed about the future. On top of that, we had two primary school kids, who are stuck with us and missed education. I have done all the crafting, meditation, quality time with kids, cooking up a stool drinking bottles and online shopping pictures. I didn’t see my family for a long time, because I can’t afford the mental or financial travelling cost especially to my home country Turkey, since there are no flights. I never knew that being able to buy Christmas gifts for children would be such a big luxury. They want to spend their Christmas cash as a gift in the kiosk, since there are no shops open. We also don’t see our family, even though we live on the same street, because they are older. We deal with financial stress, as Greek government has not been supporting our industry. Yes, we are thankful for the food on the table and the roof over our heads, but it simply isn’t enough to find silver linings.”– Aysegul
“Angry, anxious, depressed, frustrated.”
“I don’t know how to feel. We are considered lucky. My partner’s job didn’t stop, so we have an income. But I don’t feel happy. My job has only opened for 10 days since March, 10 days in November and then closed again. I miss my co-workers, our talks, our gatherings. Miss the communication with people. My family and dear friends, the hugs and the touch. I miss the opportunity to meet new friends, to travel, to do things outside the house. I never had a hectic rushed life. My life was calm, but this situation is driving me crazy. I feel more and more tired, more and more lazy, more and more unable to find things that make me happy. I hope this finishes soon.” -Marina-Katerina
“I’m at the stage of complete “give up” and don’t even want to do online shopping, because it’s no fun to buy clothes for shoes without trying them on, so I try to reason with myself, that I’m fine with whatever I have at the moment. The Truth is that I want a new dress, shoes and to go to a pub in them.” -Sophia
“I am trying to remain positive, by practicing gratitude and mindful meditation. I remain disappointed, when I walk my kids by the park and not let them go on swings, only to see others kids and parents go play and try to explain why we are doing the right thing. It’s just not fair and it’s dangerous.” -Elle
“I have lost all hope we will be doing this for years from now, I will not see my family ever again except on the screen.” – Lorna
“I’m walking and hiking everyday, if anybody wants to join me, to help clear their mind to get some exercise and fresh air and catch an occasional Sunset, responsibly. No use sitting at home and feeling like things are hopeless, when there are still plenty of things you can do within the bounds of responsibility while avoiding fines.” -Jason
“Yoga meditation breathing keeps me sane, but I miss my friends and fellow Yogi’s. I miss the hugs and laughter visiting each other. My thoughts are with the ederly, who suffer from this pandemic in so many ways.” -George H.
“I’m angry and depressed, the situation scares me. I feel we can’t sit here and do nothing.” -Beate St.
“Terribly lonely. I live with people, but I spend most of the week alone. I’ve never felt loneliness like this. I have been an independent travel solo, done everything myself, since I was 16 and now I realize how important being with others is. Also having a terrible time with anxiety and panic, which have resurfaced, after two years managing them. It makes it hard to leave the house, but I’m working on it and I know it will be forever a journey to manage this, trying to walk every day as soon as I wake up, so I don’t talk myself out of it.” -Catherine
“We are actually doing great, believe it or not. We are also thankful to be in the situation we’re in, as opposed to many other people around us. We don’t socialize much, we like our own company and that of our dogs, and am fortunate enough to get my retirement every month. My other 1/2 normally works abroad in the summer, he only worked 3 months instead of 6 last year, but since we don’t spend much, we are fine. We live in the countryside, right outside of the village, and we have everything we need. We both keep busy with our respective hobbies, just like we normally do. However, our “happiness” is spoiled by the thought of so many people strugling around us, and it’s hard to enjoy life when you know so many other people suffer. When we go to the village for groceries, we see how people around us are affected, even if they too are a bit priviledged compared to city dwellers.” -Nelly
“I am more than okay, I always had a super busy life before the virus, I wanted to stop and I couldn’t. The virus stopped everything related with previous work. I finally have the time to take a long rest to enjoy Greek summer sea. I did scuba diving, so proud of it and applied as a volunteer for a sea turtle rescue mission for the 2021 summer. 2020 has changed me a lot, the main gaining is that I finally tasted the feeling of enjoying life. Didn’t shop any clothes or bags, but it’s totally okay. Didn’t travel abroad, but discovered the beauty of Greece. In general, I was never happier. From now on, I would never ever let work occupy my whole life.” -Nina
“Feeling sad, very angry, anxious, frustrated, bored. l have my husband which is great, but I do not sleep well. Lately my patience is running out, and I feel really pissed off all day. Had enough! l know l should be grateful that l am not ill, but the second lockdown is getting to me. I have not seen my parents or brother for 8 weeks. My mum is depressed and brother is angry, as the economy is going to CRASH big time and people will be dying from no food, not from the virus!” -Hellen
“Very dulled. So I have bought a bicycle and taken my yoga exam finally.” -Louise
“No, I’m not fine at all. This year has been incredibly difficult for me, my father is bed bound now, they found that my mother has colon cancer and my grandmother had a stroke. This wonderful year finished with her dying on December 31st. My grandmother brought me up and she was my closest friend, like my second mum and sometimes even closer than my actual mother to me. She did not die of COVID but COVID stopped me from going to see her because she’s in a different country and their borders were closed. I have not seen her for over a year and was afraid to visit her not to infect her with the virus but something else took her away from me. The huge void I have in my soul seems like it will never go away.” -Iya
“Sad, angry and lonely” -Frode
“Both good and bad. I’ve found more joy in crafts and being creative. However, my health hasn’t been good and everything is delayed including a quite important surgery, because of covid, so my life feels like it’s on hold. I miss my friends and, of course, I haven’t been able to see any of my family since 2019. I’ve also lost a close family member in the UK and wasn’t able to go home to say goodbye. I’ve become more introverted (and already had social anxiety) and until we have more freedom, I don’t think I’ll know how negative an impact that has had. My sleeping pattern is totally off and I keep getting sick. I will be glad when we have a little more freedom. I don’t mind lockdown at all, but I’d like for things to loosen up a little soon.” -Hayley
“I miss my home country and family. Last time they saw my kid, he was three. Our business is on the edge. We didn’t pay all the rent. We owe money for the rent and the insurance. My kid is alone most of the time more and more addicted to screen, no matter how I try. I don’t believe this is going to end soon and I don’t trust the vaccine company. it has a bad reputation from before. I’m not an anti-vax person.” -Ana
“The whole world is affected by the virus. I know a lot of people like me accept the lockdown restrictions. New ideas such as handicrafts, sports, walks, reading, etc, bring variety into life. I enjoy life more intensely than before. In short, I am completely happy.” – Maya
In case these experiences made you curious in regards to how i’m dealing with it myself i’ll say it’s difficult as there are days where my creativity thrives and there’s a clear set of goals, as well as bad days, mainly, due to previous activities and social life that have been put on pause. It’s also very sad to see troubled people around me and not being able to help them all. So, I asked a pshycologist to explain the reasons we do not feel so well.
Lida Morou, Psychologist-Child Psychologist-Psychotherapist, as an expert, answers: “It is normal for everyone to be affected globally and to feel that way. It’s something that happens to everyone at the same time. Do not forget that there is also the fear of disease. It is important to follow the measures and be careful.
We can change our lives and our psychology. We have plenty of time to deal with ourselves, take care of our minds and our bodies. This will allow us to go out and seize the day.
Based on the natural order of things, what happens reminds us that this is how nature works. Relaxed rhythms, nature breathes, animals rest during the day, relax, enjoy the tranquility. Have you gone out on the balcony to listen to the quiet that exists now at night?
It is very important to think that we are healthy. Let’s make our CV (to learn a foreign language, an art, to attend seminars, etc.), so that when the flow returns, we will be stronger.
We have to be patient, it is a very simple word, but it is not easy. He who deals with himself seriously in this void, will be the strongest when the flow returns. As in nature, the strongest survive. We need to take care of ourselves.”
I feel very lucky to have communicated with so many people I didn’t know before. For this reason, this article is dedicated to all these beautiful people, from all over the world, who live in my beautiful country. They are our friends, our colleagues, our neighbors.