“Dear Dr. Eve,
It’s one year since Covid-19 happened and I see people living normal
lives. I cannot live a normal life even though we are in Level 1. I am
always afraid – afraid of getting infected, scared around people, crazy
about handwashing and masks. I have lost people I know to covid-19
and me myself, I have lost income.
I write to you as it is affecting my relationships with friends and definitely
with my partner. I want to be alone most of the time, but I also feel so
lonely. Can you help me?
I invite you to take the time to read my response to you. Find a quiet safe
space, cover yourself with cushions or a heavy blanket, and settle in.
Level 1 has created the illusion that life can be “normal”. It has almost
split people into those who long for and love this illusion as it feels safer
and happier for them and those who, like you, feel trepidatious,
suspicious and unsafe in the current environment of confusing mixed
messages. After all, the virus remains as present and virulent as ever.
You are experiencing the trauma of loss and grief. And thus your mind
and body are showing typical symptoms consistent with this trauma. It is
Here is a list of PTSD symptoms that people experience when a huge
trauma occurs in their personal lives, such as a death (even a birth ) ,
accident, loss of status/finances, illness – and in their collective lives,
such as a war, or a pandemic.
– intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience
that last long after the traumatic event has ended.
– relive the event through flashbacks or nightmare
– feel sadness, fear, or anger
– feel detached or estranged from other people.
– repetitive and distressing images or sensations
– physical sensations, such as pain, sweating, feeling sick or
– headaches, body pains
– emotional numbing
– isolation and withdrawn socially
– give up activities that one previously enjoyed
– sleeping difficulties
– anger outbursts
– concentration difficulties
– low interest in being sexual.
Knowing these symptoms may ease your mind in that you are merely
responding to a very out of control environment that has left you feeling
lonely and disconnected.
Add to this is your grief over your losses: loss of people which is
profoundly sad.. and scary.. and loss of finances, which perhaps
translates into a loss of status and safety and security.
Elisabeth Kubler Ross is most famous for her 5 stages of grief .
Here is a short summary so you can ground yourself in your grief. And in
this way normalize yourself to your own specific experience right now.
- DENIAL: avoidance, confusion, elation, shock, fear
- ANGER: FRUSTRATION, IRRITATION, ANXIETY,
- BARGAINING: struggling to find meaning, reaching out to others,
telling one’s story
- DEPRESSION: Overwhelmed, helplessness, hostility, flight
- ACCEPTANCE : exploring options , new plan in place, moving on
The most important take-home message for you, Sipho, is that these
stages are not linear. In other words, you move in and out of them, and
there is no end date to this grieving process.
Be kind to yourself