With my anxiety disorder, it can be really difficult to be thrusted into scenarios that are completely out of your comfort zone or that you’ve never confronted before. The pandemic has definitely challenged me over the past year.
When the pandemic began a year ago, something about Covid-19 didn’t hit me until later on in the year. I had rushed home from university that month and stayed in the comforts of my parents’ home, being made homecooked meals and having my washing done for me. Then the summer came, restrictions began to lift, and I was able to have the summer I wanted (within reason). Nothing about the pandemic, early on, made me panic because nothing about my life had change and I was extremely fortunate for that.
September came and it was time to get ready to go back to university and I had chosen to live with my parents for that academic year. Which meant that I would have commute to university on the train once a week. It didn’t seem that difficult in my head at first. I thought it would be easy since cases had dropped and not many people would be commuting for work now that working from home was the norm. And it was easy. The journey there and back was smooth, I got to see my classmates in person for the first time in six months and I even did a bit of shopping in the city centre. It was the perfect day out. However, as soon as I had made it home, I was shaking and crying, and I did not want to do it again. Because I had done something I had never done before and during a pandemic, it was very overwhelming.
Further down the line when cases began to rise and lockdowns were being put in place, it became really difficult for me to even comprehend what was happening around me. I would be there in a lesson physically, but mentally I was thinking about the journey home and when would be the best time to catch the train to miss rush hour. When the UK was thrusted into another lockdown in January, I thought it would give me a little break from all the commuting. Once again, I was naïve and thought we would be back to contact hours within a month’s time, but that wasn’t the case when it got halfway through February and I realised that I wouldn’t be back in university until after Easter.
I thought staying at home would give me a chance to get stuck into some work and my attention span would be solely on the work rather then the commute I would have to face at the end of the day. However, it was the complete opposite. I had absolutely no motivation to finish my work or to start a new project. All of the creative inspiration that I was gearing up for, had faded for months. It became even worse when the government unleashed their roadmap for things to go back to normal. Many people my age was so excited to start going back out again and hit up the clubs. For me, it was the complete opposite. From being in the comforts of being in my parents’ home and only having to speak to people behind a screen three times a week it was a dream for an anxious introvert. Just the thought of being squashed up in a club with drunk people would give me an anxiety attack.
But something I realised was communicating these feelings and talking to people as to what was going on in my head, actually helped me notice that I wasn’t the only student feeling the pressure with the amount of work I had on my plate and the lack of motivation I felt. I began to talk to people on forums about the anxiety I had about coming out of lockdown and it surprised me how many people were feeling exactly the same.
So moving forward to today, even though the idea of physically going back to university and normal life gives me a bout of anxiety every now and then, I know I’m not on my own and I have a network people around me that I can reach out to if I need it. And therefore, something I’ve taken from the pandemic is that it’s okay to ask for help and support wherever it’s from.
By Holly Briant