Over the past year, I have been in graduate school online, working from home, and essentially living alone in my apartment. Despite the struggle of it all that everyone has endured, I had become accustomed to this way of life, filling my time with new things to read, hobbies to create, and other new trials of self-growth. This extra time came with its benefits and downfalls, and by the end of the spring I felt I was trying to make the best of it by painting, exercising, and trying new things.
I can confidently say the best years of my life have been in college. I need the structure, the crumbs of responsibility, the freedom from paying health insurance. So when people remind me that there are two more days of classes, I don’t even feel anything. No emotion, because my brain can’t understand that this period is closing.
Something I realized as I was staying home more and more during the pandemic was that I was constantly on my phone. My addiction to my phone started before the pandemic when I was still in in-person school. I was away from my family and hanging out with friends felt like a chore. Therefore, I spent every spare minute of my time on my phone and the Internet became a place where I could relax and stop thinking negative thoughts for a moment.
The news notifications and throwback posts on your phone have most likely reminded you that today is the first full year since America has entered what we’ve been experiencing as the pandemic. This time last year, the news took a complete 180 and events quickly started shutting down, spring breaks were extended to figure out what to do about classes, and there was just a general confusion as to what was happening as updates and changes seemed to dropping every other minute.
Stress and anxiety are terms we hear a lot in our daily lives, especially while living through such extreme circumstances, like the current pandemic, but how often do we see these topics broken down in a helpful way? In a 30-minute talk presented by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Dr. Krystal Lewis, a licensed clinical psychologist, explains where stress and anxiety come from and some coping strategies.
Over the last two semesters, I have had to sacrifice a lot of things due to COVID and it was really hard. I spent a lot of time feeling bitter and sorry for myself. I backslid into old habits of sleeping all day and staying up all night, of snapping at people when they spoke to me, and worst of all, not feeling much of anything.
Over the past few months, the numerous life changes that have happened to me (moving across the country back home, losing not one but two different jobs, and starting a new position thousands of miles away from the rest of my team) has been incredibly challenging. I thought I had it under control – I had a team of doctors working with me to get a better plan for managing my anxiety and depression. Unfortunately, a few slight changes to my health insurance plan and I’m back to the starting place where I was a few months back prior to all of these crazy events.
This holiday season has already been one like no other. With family not allowed to leave their state and having older grandparents/family members who are more vulnerable, I sometimes get a rush of sadness that I will not be able to spend the holidays with all my family.