anxiety mental health Mental Health Mondays pandemic psychology wellbeing writing

Mental Health Mondays – 9. Still suffering (the effects of the pandemic on the mental health of older people)

I was recently asked what motivates me to do what I do, write, make videos and so on. What is the reward for me as I’m not trying to make money out of it.

Let me tell you about Marcel*.

Marcel is a partner from France and we’ve been working together on a project since November 2020. I remember the first time I virtually met him, as our first meeting took place during another lockdown. A 50-something year old, with a heavy accent I absolutely loved. I really liked him as a person and his sense of humour since the first day.

I met with the rest of the partners face to face in Nicosia, about a year ago, but I’d never met Marcel in real life and he was busy during some of our online meetings too so when I heard he was joining our partner training in Slovenia, I was pretty excited to finally meet him in person.

And it was genuinely a pleasure. Well-read, smart, sophisticated, a wine and fine dining lover without the pretentiousness, also funny, witty, surprisingly honest and a true gentleman.

On our last dinner together, we started talking about how the effects of the pandemic still lingered for children, as some started school during COVID-19 and spent months on end locked inside, with no other social interaction. We all agreed that it’s been tough on all of us, especially children, but Marcel said:

‘Yes, I agree, but children are resilient, look at me, I still suffer!’

I failed to mention at this point, that Marcel wore a mask for most of the week and avoided sitting close to anyone. The reason: If he catches the virus, his wife might die. For that same reason he moved in a rural area with his wife during the pandemic (he still lives there), with minimal social interaction with anyone else. He told us how much he hated it and how he drove himself mad living in the middle of nowhere, in a small village with just a few houses.

How incredibly sad. Older people already find it hard, feeling isolated and lonely, as it is, society somehow forgets about you when you grow old, although it should have been the opposite, we can learn so much from older generations, they are beacons of knowledge and wisdom, but the pandemic has made it even tougher for them to cope.

A couple of others shared their stories. I mentioned a horrible news story from a Cyprus, an old man who died alone during the pandemic and was found days later, since he had noone to check up on him.

This is the sad reality and we need to do something about it. We need to look after, love and nourish the people who took care of us and kept the world going whilst we were growing up. We owe it to them.

During that same dinner, Marcel asked me if I still wrote. It caught me by surprise.

‘How do you know I write??’

-‘I remember when we all first met online, you told us that you had a blog, and I found it and read a lot of it. Do you still do it?’

-‘Yes, I do! Not that often but I do. I don’t write much about travel or food anymore, but I still write about mental health’.

-‘Oh nice, I’ll read it when I get home!’

And that’s why I keep writing. This is the reward. The impact however small or big on someone’s life when they read one of my posts, either because they feel the same, or they learnt something or they just enjoy my writing.

Eleni

*Marcel is a pseudonym, in case the person wishes to remain anonymous.

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