Marian de Groot (52), mentor in a nursing home
‘I had corona in October last year and since then I have been working with an occupational therapist and a psychosomatic coach. I just don’t get back to normal. I have a head like a sieve, I no longer dare to do anything alone, I can no longer make a train journey for fear of missing the transfer. Work is no longer there at all. And that while I was never ill.
‘It is mainly concentration disorders that I struggle with. Shopping is not possible. When I walk in the supermarket, I can’t figure out what to eat, let alone what I need for it. I can’t read a book either, I start over three times. And when I’m watching Netflix with my boyfriend, I ask: is this the right season? I can’t remember the episode from the night before.
‘I have also become anxious. My boyfriend and I don’t live together, but I don’t dare to sleep alone anymore, so he’s always here now. I have a lot of nightmares. And I can wake up in the middle of the night and not know where I am. Then I have to calm myself. I have turned into a panicky person. If someone has said to pick me up at 4:00 and they haven’t been there at 4:15, I am totally upset.
‘Recently I went for a short walk and after ten minutes I didn’t know how to get home. No idea of the route anymore. Ordering something on the internet is no longer possible; way too complicated. I can hardly remember anything from last winter, I have lost entire pieces. It makes me sad. Now they want to hire a replacement at work. This is understandable in itself, but that creates new headaches. ‘
Lieke (36) runs a travel platform and records voice overs
‘I got corona in March last year. I had a fever and chest pain for nine weeks. I could barely walk from the couch to the kitchen, I was that tired. I couldn’t concentrate on anything anymore either. Someone gave me a puzzle to practice; after five minutes I had to stop. It just didn’t work out.
‘I have been struggling with complaints for months. Physical and mental: tremors, palpitations, the feeling of a tight band around my chest that made me suffocating. My doctor gave me diazepam, which I took for eight months, because I couldn’t sleep without it. In retrospect, my body has been in fight or flight mode all this time.
‘In June it seemed to be going a bit better and I started cycling again. Then I relapsed enormously. The pain in my chest came back and my heartbeat was restless. I ended up in the emergency room where they said you have hyperventilation. No research was done at the time. The cardiologist later said it was probably an inflamed pericardium. I was convinced I was going to die. That night I called my mom and gave her all my passwords.
‘Having Corona is very scary: the whole world is flat, you see the most terrible images of people on a ventilator on the IC all the time. I felt really bad for months with no demonstrable heart or lung damage. In the end I benefited from a podcast about chronic pain, The Cure for Chronic Pain. He taught me to write down my fears and then to meditate. In this way I managed to reset my overstrained nervous system. It’s been one big lesson in mindfulness. ‘