Minding your mental health in a pandemic
By Jillian LaFeir
Heavy. Everything feels heavy. Your shoulders are slumped from carrying the weight of your thoughts with every step. Your chest feels hollow after your heart has taken permanent residence in your stomach. Get out of bed. That’s all you have to do, just get out of bed. But why is the simple thought of getting out of bed even more exhausting than the action?
Alone. You feel so alone like no one even sees you or notices you’re there. You want to cry out for help, desperate for someone to hold you, but the second they come near, you are already pulling away.
Paralyzed by your thoughts, never feeling like you are enough, the constant fear that you are failing at everything you do, you barely even recognize yourself anymore. You are trapped inside your own mind begging to be let out, but I promise you, in time, you will find your way out.
While we are still in the heart of a pandemic, cases of COVID-19 are continuing to climb every day. On top of that, we are almost halfway through this crazy semester and the work continues to pile up. It is natural to be feeling anxious, stressed, scared, depressed and every other emotion under the sun. Life is an endless series of unknowns right now. There is no exact way to navigate your way through these times, and that could become extremely overwhelming. Speaking from my own experience, I have found these times very challenging and have found myself getting stuck in a rut more times than I care to admit. Avoiding social activities and staying home for many consecutive days guarantees me a place on the fast track towards a downward spiral. But what are you supposed to do when those are the government-mandated guidelines? My solution was to keep a packed schedule — join more clubs, take on more responsibilities; The busier I was, the less time I would have to realize how unhappy I was. At least that is what I thought. It worked for a week or two, but I could not keep up with the demand I had put on myself, so I began avoiding all of my responsibilities and put everything off until the last possible second, which only contributed to my stress levels. I was caught in an endless cycle of being extremely productive one moment to not being able to get out of bed the next. I could not continue in this way. I knew I had to make a change.
Mental illness has always been a stigmatized concept, and therapy has always been considered taboo. But now more than ever, it is vital that we normalize this and understand that there is no shame in admitting you need help. You are not weak for asking for help — if anything, you are strong for making the steps to confront your issues head-on and put in the work towards healing. In my process of accepting help, I have grown in ways I could never have imagined for myself. I have learned so much about myself and my needs that I know no matter what is thrown at me, I do have the ability to get through it. No mountain is too high. You do not have to suffer alone. People want to help you succeed, you have the right to a happy life and you can get there. It is okay not to be okay, it is okay to need help and it is okay to get help. It will be the best thing you have ever done for yourself.