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  • Writer's pictureRosie Fay

Back on Track: Island Fever

My thumb cramps again as I scroll for another video. I switch back to the app I used an hour ago. I open my laptop and my procrastination is still there from this morning.

I took an unwanted break, then a deliberate break, then an unwanted one again. From a little bit every day to whole weeks of nothing, my guilt and anxiety were waves, much like the sea I had surrounded myself with. In February, my plans had been set in stone to travel to the beautiful Greek island for a work experience. There was a yoga class every day. Fresh food. My own bedroom and all the beach activities you could think of.

Greece Sunset rural shed
Sunset at the Shed, where our water was heated

For a few hours a day? The jackpot, really. I pulled into the beautiful island that was going to be home for 6 weeks and introduced myself to the South African owners of the island. It had been a resort in the 70's, abandoned for a while, bought and inherited again. The couple had previously worked in a Safari park and a famous Music Festival in England. They'd gutted it out, rebuilt it, and sold it as one of the 'best retreats in Europe'.

One that paid their staff less than $5 an hour.

As the weeks rolled on and the rules continued to be made, paradise wore thin. Permission was needed for everything, and slowly, the entrapment grew. I had 25GB of internet provided grudgingly. Not enough to run a business. Not enough to complete any of the courses I had enrolled in. The work grew. The yoga classes stopped.

Two girls from behind walking to work
Work began at 7:30am

I tried to stay motivated. I couldn't write. I didn't have anything to cook with. I was exhausted from the 7 am starts, the midday half-naps, the lack of distraction. I smiled at my affluent guests - ones that booked helicopters to collect them. Who had 18 pairs of sunglasses in their room. Who dragged their designer suitcases around & could spend €4000 in a week.

It just continued to stretch out. Things got worse.

One of my colleagues had just been detained from a psychiatric hospital. She had no meds with her. She had been in there for two months, and no one knew why she was admitted. As we discussed depression and anxiety, alongside heavy topics like suicide, it was clear she hadn't been there for something she had done to herself. I never pressed it and took the long stares into the distance as a sign to drop the subject. After one week of distractions, she'd been taken to the mainland and diagnosed with a strong UTI. She'd never had one before. She couldn't figure out how she'd got it. She was 24 years old, and not a virgin.

She refused to take the natural meds for it or drink more water. It developed so badly she needed two more trips to the doctor and two courses of antibiotics.

It felt like a prison. I was scrubbing toilets with a dish brush.

Social plans were dismissed. My article planned for the retreat went unwritten, alongside other articles I had promised. I proposed an online store. Remote yoga streams. A planned social feed. One yoga teacher laughed at my equipment. The other never let me finish my sentence.

I stopped interviewing. I quit all my clients.

My course reminders went unopened.

I lost myself in the stories I found on the bookshelves, so at least I can thank the place for nourishing the book lover that I had ignored for years.

Donate to my Kindle Fund.

Recommended books:

  • Expectation by Anna Hope. Three millennial women and how their lives have changed since their shared London flat in their early 20's.

  • Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler. A girl in her 20's gets a job at a high-end New York restaurant. She learns about food, wine and the truths of hospitality.

  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. A lonely, odd mannered woman meets a friend that helps her realise how loved and valued she is.

The last week came with joy but was met with something no one expected.

The owner of the island entered our staff quarters the day before Clean Day.

Fun boss messages

She went into all of the rooms. Took plenty of photos. Found us at work. Confronted us all, saying we had disrespected the home provided. Whilst the place wasn't spotless, we were a little dumbfounded this was done the day before our pack up day. The photos, pointed at angrily, were things easily cleaned up.

And then the messages began.

I don't want to continue to ramble and explain the last few hours on this island, but it wasn't pleasant. Needless to say, as a place promoted to be one of the most relaxing and calming retreats in the world, it hardly felt that way. Our colleague put on her lawyer hat and we all got out, money intact.

I'm not sure of the impact on the others. As we split off, no one has spoken about it again. I think Silly Gilly is still in Greece somewhere. God knows. I definitely took a self-esteem hit and no longer felt strong or smart enough to live this life.

Cliffside in Himara, Albania

It's been almost a whole month since I left, and I'm getting better now.

I'm back watching my Youtube creator videos that juice up my brain. I add one after another and close my eyes periodically to manifest my life.

Youtube recommendations:

  • Hindz. Brew a tea and sit with this man as he talks to your soul. Video titles such as 'cleanse your stagnant thoughts', 'lets vibe' and 'how I thrive when I'm stressed out'

  • TheCottageFairy A 24-year-old pre-school teacher quits her job and moves to cottage in the country to create art. Video titles include: 'a simple life, a simple home', 'a workday in the country' and 'simple self-care'.

  • WatchMojo Well, we all need a little trash. Top 10 countdowns of all topics.

Physically, I'm still not where I'm meant to be. The beachside cottage plan fell apart, I haven't been able to cook again, and 'self-care' is laughable. But my mind is stronger.

I know what I need now. I'm taking a risk to make it happen, but risks are essential if you're changing your life. Stay tuned x

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