PERSEVERING THROUGH A PANDEMIC
Words By Anna-Lena Qualmann
So, it’s been nine months of working from home. You’re exhausted. You’ve binge watched the entirety of Netflix and are currently sitting in a pile of takeaway containers. Fortunately, you’re not alone.
How many times have you heard the phrases “just get some fresh air,” or “have you tried exercising and eating well?”. When you bring up the fact that you suffer from depression and or anxiety you might get the classic “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. If you’re anything like me – a frazzled but independent 21-year-old student, navigating both depression and anxiety – these peppy clichéd phrases haunt you every day. Despite the best of intentions, it does approximately nothing to quell the overbearing negativity and constant stress flooding my brain. No one knows this better than those working at support centres whose call volumes were “60 percent higher in April and May compared to the same period in 2019.” Let’s discuss.
“It’s proven to be an antagonist worthy of its own Hollywood blockbuster – complete with a dedicated team of villain-busting heroes in ridiculously bright Lycra costumes and capes, ready to fight the evil monster in a nail-biting final battle”ANNA-LENA QUALMANN
All of this is hard enough to handle in a normal year without a global pandemic that has single-handedly changed the way an entire civilisation lives their day-to-day lives. I think it is safe to say that no one in Australia has been left unaffected by the coronavirus. It’s proven to be an antagonist worthy of its own Hollywood blockbuster – complete with a dedicated team of villain-busting heroes in ridiculously bright Lycra costumes and capes, ready to fight the evil monster in a nail-biting final battle. Except, there is no team of heroes, no capes and no final battle; It’s just me, on my own, fighting the same battle every day and waiting for the moment when things might get just a little easier.
Living in Brisbane, I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have had as little contact with the coronavirus as I have. Still, 2020 has been months of extreme anxiety coupled with an overwhelming sense of uncertainty, that looms over me like a heavy storm cloud. While restrictions continue to ease as the year progresses and some areas of life have returned to a partial sense of normality, others remain stagnant.
Finding the willpower to attend Zoom classes is suddenly akin to finding the motivation to tackle the three weeks’ worth of laundry piled in the corner of my bedroom. And my eagerly awaited plan of spending Christmas in Germany with my family, drinking mulled wine and waiting for the first snow, is no longer an option. I now struggle to find things to look forward to, as the future continues to be shrouded in uncertainty.Juggling my commitments, responsibilities and a perfectionistic mentality as the pandemic rages on, sometimes gets the better of me.
But I know that I am not the only one who is currently experiencing this.
Thankfully, the mental health implications of the coronavirus have not been entirely ignored by federal and state governments, nor by high schools and universities. There have been public relations campaigns and the allocation of extra resources, subsidised therapy sessions from the government as well as relaxed assessment extension policies from universities. All of these measures aim to relieve at least some of the stress that is plaguing us.
However, there is a lot more that is weighing on the minds of young adults as we move further into a post-coronavirus world, something governments and universities are failing to understand. We worry about our job prospects and graduating into Australia’s first recession in 30 years. We worry about our grades not reflecting our true capabilities and strengths, as we attempt to adapt to new methods of learning.
The coronavirus and its consequences have and will continue to test us every day. It is hard and it is painful, but I will share with you what I tell myself when I’m having a particularly hard day: Take it one day at a time and always make time for the things you enjoy.
If you find you are feeling struggling to cope, please speak with someone. Help is available at:
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
Lifeline: 13 11 14