Mental Health in the Time of COVID-19

By Yasmine Hamady.

To the Class of 2020, don’t let these unfortunate times make you forget about all the hard work you’ve done to get to the place you are right now. You got a degree during a global pandemic...not many people can say that.

As I sit here trying to figure out how to make myself sound really smart and relatable, I want to start off by saying that these are not normal times. Trying to live right now, while there is a global pandemic is not normal. Self isolation and quarantining are essential actions that need to be done, however, they have taken a major toll on me. Yes, you are helping yourself and others from physical pain (contracting the virus), but your mental pain skyrockets. At least that is what it was like for me.

When I got the call from my parents to come home immediately, I couldn’t help myself but to laugh. It wasn’t funny to me, but getting a call from my parents to come home because the county I was living in was going under lockdown and that there was a global pandemic was actually unreal. Obviously I argued with them for a bit and told them I still had to film my thesis the next day and couldn’t just pack up my bags and go home, but like the Arab child I am, I obviously listened to them.

When I came home I was fine. Yes, I was pissed at my parents, but I wasn’t too torn up about it because I was planning on coming back to Chapman in two weeks (little did I know). Two weeks passed and most of my friends went home and I was living everyday not knowing what tomorrow would bring. I did the same thing every day. I got in the same arguments with my family every day. I ate the same food every day. Everything was just up in the air and I hated it.

I didn’t know what the hell was going on in the world and quite frankly, I didn’t want to know. I didn’t watch the news anymore because it was the same thing. Every. Day. It was the unknown that was making me mad. I wasn’t sad, I was mad. Why me? Why now? I would cry about it for hours at a time. I would wake up in the morning and just cry, do a workout, tan, then cry some more. Then in early May while I was having one of my manic episodes, it dawned on me; I needed to stop nagging. People are dying all over the world, people are losing loved ones over this pandemic, thousands have lost their jobs, there are people starving, and I am crying because I can’t be at college right now.

Now, before I continue I want to say that my feelings were and are 100% valid. Getting my college graduation and second semester of senior year taken from me is absolutely horrible, but there is much worse going on. This comes with privilege and once I acknowledged mine, and took into perspective on what was going on, things got better for me. Was I cheerful and smiling all day? Absolutely the fuck not, but it helped me manage my anxiety of not knowing.

Dealing with anxiety and mental health issues during a time of self isolation and a global pandemic is not easy. As someone who has panic disorder and anxiety, this was awful for me. I felt like I needed to always be doing something. I felt like I needed to update my resume, apply for jobs, write the next hit show for ABC, post hot instagram photos, when in actuality, I didn’t have to do any of that. How you spend this time in quarantine is valid. You don’t need to be living your best life locked up at home, you don’t have to be having your shit together, you don’t need to grow as a person. All you need to do is be.

So if you made it all the way down to here, I thank you for taking a couple minutes out of your day to read this little article. I encourage you to take the time and space you need to be. Whether that’s going on a nice run outside and sun bathing or in your room watching your favorite Netflix show, do what you need to do to be okay. Set up boundaries with the people you’re quarantining with so you have that space. Communicate kindly. Drink lots of water and never feel ashamed to reach out for help. We're going to be okay in the end! If it’s not okay! Then it’s not the end!

Yasmine xx