I remember February last year; I knew this was going to be bad based on what the professionals were saying. A lot of people were telling me to “just relax” or “don’t think about it”. It was frustrating feeling like I wasn’t being heard or taken seriously at the time, especially considering where we are now. I had a covid scare right off the bat because I was in Chicago on March 8th for a concert filled with people and I was showing symptoms. This was before testing was widely available and before we were told to wear any type of mask. Outside of my own scare, I have friends that have parents working in nursing homes that had outbreaks, so I was really worried for my friends and their families. I had less to worry about with my parents as they were able to work from home right away and were taking it very seriously.
My first few months of quarantine consisted of lots of awful reality TV shows, soup making, homework, going for walks, and just trying to survive in my own head. Covid-19 has really tested my mental health and resilience. I think a lot of people can relate when I say that quarantine has exposed a lot of things regarding my mental health, things that had always been there and were forced to the surface with being alone so much. I’ve learned about myself through this time; how to feel safe being vulnerable with myself and others and learning that there is power in that. Cultivating my community and learning to rely on others when I need help has been huge along with valuing rest and taking the time to do so.
The summer came, and George Floyd shook the entire world. Of course, police brutality against Black lives has been a persistent issue since the abolition of slavery, and the circumstances of the pandemic and practically a second Great Depression allowed for the movement to manifest in the way that it did this past summer. This time has pushed for the radicalization of many individuals and institutions, me included. I marched in the protests here in Milwaukee and have done some mutual aid work in Minneapolis as well which I try to integrate into my everyday life as much as possible to make sure momentum continues beyond last summer.
Summer turned into fall and I was struggling more than I had been in the spring. I didn’t even know that the first day of class was September 2nd until a friend had texted me that morning wishing me a happy first day. I was out of it to say the least. I finally had a medical procedure that was a major source of my bad mental state and things started to get better as the semester progressed. Thanksgiving came around, I chose not to be with family, and I ended up getting covid. I had minimal symptoms and my roommate got it as well and was asymptomatic. It was a little scary, but we were both okay and surprisingly, no one that I had been in contact with that previous week contracted it.
The fall semester came and went, and now, we’re back in March. A whole year later and I’m in my final semester of my undergrad. It has been such a challenging time and it’s not over yet, but I’m growing more and more confident in my abilities to take on the hardships that I’ll continue to come across in life.