*This blog was written whilst suffering from COVID-19 symptoms, therefore some of the text might not make complete sense.
Ever since I wrote about lack of mental health NGO’s in Cyprus and how it’s still considered ‘awkward’ or ‘taboo’ or ‘weakness’ to talk about mental health, I’ve been torturing my mind on how I can promote opening up and talking about mental health, and I thought I’d start small with a weekly Monday special, writing about a topic that came up during the week I had to deal with, or a family or friend went through, or a random chat I had with a colleague or a loved one. I chose Mondays for obvious reasons, since the majority of us struggle with Monday and any stress relief and an opportunity to chat about mental health can definitely help! Mental Health Mondays!
So here’s the first in a hopefully long series of exclusively mental health write-ups. I encourage you to and hope you comment and share your experiences too and suggest topics or even write a guest post. I really want to show with this blog series that we all go through similar situations and we all struggle at points, but also how we look after our mental health in general. So, let’s talk about mental health!!
This week’s topic:
Getting COVID after about 2.5 years of desperately trying not to and how it messes up your life for at LEAST a week.
The week had started well. I went back to the office after two weeks (Karim, my other half broke his foot and I worked from home for a couple of weeks to help out around the house), which was eerily quiet (many colleagues seemed to have gotten the new virus variant) and spent the day organising my tasks for the rest of the week as I was going on a work trip to “The Nymph of the Thermaic Gulf”, the beautiful Thessaloniki , the following day until Thursday. I hadn’t been in years and although I would only really have half a day to wander in the little alleys, huge squares and the seafront, I was quite excited about it.
Tuesday was a brilliant, but exhausting day. Karim finally had his MBA thesis presentation (and passed with flying colours!) and the last few months of spending our afternoons or weekends with him studying and me joining him and helping him on the way, finally paid off! But no time to celebrate as I was flying to Thessaloniki in the afternoon! So, after a couple of hours of work, I made it to my colleague’s, Andria, who was joining me on this trip (thanks to super driver aunt Litsa!) and we headed to the airport. We made it to Salonika late at night and after we checked in at the hotel and a quick takeaway souvlaki, we went to bed, knackered.
Wednesday started off well with hotel buffet breakfast and after another morning coffee thanks to Andria’s kindness and generosity we headed to our meeting at the University of Macedonia. I keep forgetting how old and often dingy buildings are in cities like Thessaloniki, so it caught me by surprise how horrible the University building looked like. After a 4-hour long meeting and a quick lunch, we finally had the rest of the afternoon off to explore the town. And it was a gorgeous afternoon, visiting the infamous Saint Demetrios kathedral, the patron saint of Thessaloniki, and walking around town chatting along,
which ended with a delicious, albeit heavy feast at a local taverna, my lovely colleague Loizos, who I absolutely trust when it comes to food, recommended, and which I now definitely recommend, Katsamaka. I went to bed feeling I was about to burst from all the food, tired, and with a bit of a sore throat, but I assumed that was due to all the travel, walking and busy schedule.
I woke up with a bit of a sore throat, but again I brushed it off due to a million other reasons other than COVID. I did a self-test on Tuesday morning, I had no other symptoms anyway and most of people across the Mediterranean are getting ill with all the high temperatures and use of AC, this can’t be the virus.
After a short delay on our flight, Andria and I made it back to Cyprus. Stella, my middle sister was to pick me up from the airport, wander for a bit and then go back to the airport to pick our little sister up, since she was coming back from Brussels for the summer. I asked Stella to bring a self-test with her, just to make sure I didn’t have the virus. In the meantime, my symptoms were getting worse. I felt a bit of a chill and feverish and swallowing really hurt. The test was negative. OK, so it was just a really bad cold. Or that’s what I thought.
By the time I made it home, I completely ran out of energy and I couldn’t swallow from the pain.
I didn’t sleep a wink. I kept tossing and turning, I had high fever, my throat hurt like hell, which made me feel nauseous and dizzy, I barely made it to the loo once, or twice during the night. It was the worst night I had in years.
This can’t be just a cold. I haven’t felt that ill since January 2020, and I remember that because I think that when I got COVID the first time, before the global outbreak, when I had a persistent cough and fever on and off for weeks.
I decided to do another test. Sure enough I tested positive.
I had no idea what the process was from now on and what to expect. My mum of course was my first call for support, as she had got it a few weeks before. She told me to message our GP as soon as possible and asked him to call me when he can. He prescribed a syrup and advised me to take vitamins C and D and Nurofen for the fever. He also told me I had to pop to a pharmacy to get tested so they can report me as a positive case.
After barely making it to the pharmacy, I just lied on the sofa and stayed there. I felt rough as hell for the whole day. I was terrified about my breathing and any other severe symptoms I might develop and I was also devasted all my weekend plans were cancelled. No dinner out on Friday, no beach on Saturday, no mountain festival on Sunday. And the sad realisation, that pretty much my plans for the rest of the week would have to be cancelled. I was really looking forward to the kite making workshop!
But none of this really matters. As long as you are healthy. Isn’t that what we all realise every time our health is compromised? Well yeah, but you can still feel rough and miserable and unhappy and of course scared. I could never be sure whether that pesistent cough and fever I had back in January 2020 was COVID, so catching the virus always scared me as I wasn’t sure what to expect. You never know how your body would react, no matter how healthy you are.
Today is day 4 and after a few days of sneezing, coughing and a sore throat, I now lost my sense of smell, which inevitably affected my sense of taste. For those of you who know me, you know how much I love food, so not being able to smell or taste anything is killing me! But I’m OK. Getting better slowly. The medication definitely helps, as well as Netflix, reading, DuoLingo and puzzles! Mentally I’m exhausted. It hasn’t been the easiest few weeks and this was going to be the first one in a long time to have been going out on events and workshops and the beach. So, not being able to leave the house, go for a run, a walk or really do anything is really painful. It’s only been 4 days but it feels like 4 months!
I managed to give the virus to my sisters (well the little one probably got it from the plane), my other half got it from a night out last week and my mum who has just recovered from it is going around our flats delivering supplies! My dad hasn’t got it yet and fingers crossed he won’t, he is the one we are all the most worried about.
That’s my COVID adventure so far. Now I need to lie down again, my energy levels are running low, and the 39 degree heatwave doesn’t help.
Did you go through it? How did you feel about it? Let’s talk about it.