During times like these it can feel as if “nothing is getting better,” but at the end of the day, we do have each other.
On numerous occasions during the past two semesters, I have heard my fellow students say the most hopeless things. A student in one of my classes, remarking on the current U.S. climate, let out a deep sigh and said “It just feels like nothing is getting better.”
In multiple classes, I have watched students become so overwhelmed they have fallen catastrophically behind. Through their stress and anxiety, they are placed before their instructors to ask for extensions and understanding. Luckily, I have yet to study under a single instructor that does not extend their empathy toward their students. However, we would be foolish to deny their problems are external more so than internal.
The U.S. is vaccinating at an inspiring rate, but as President Joe Biden pointed out, we are far from done. During this pandemic struggle, college students have been asked to carry on through a new normal. They go to class six feet apart from their friends. They wear masks that hide their emotions and dim connections. When the stress of the day is over, they go home by themselves because socializing carries a COVID-19 risk. Anxiety is fostered through these conditions.
Like Webster students, millions of Americans are past pandemic fatigue and in a state of pandemic depression. Journalists in a variety of outlets have been covering pandemic depression and anxiety and its prevalence within our society relentlessly. Despite the fact this pandemic may not have been as deadly as some previous ones, it has taken a grave mental toll on many.
When the pandemic began, I wrote an article on maintaining your mental and emotional health during the pandemic. I, the writer, could not even prevent myself from succumbing to the worst of feelings. I suppose it’s easier said than done, but that’s okay. We should never expect ourselves to remain whole 24/7 during one of the worst experiences of our lifetime.
The university has many established channels to reach out for mental health services. When it comes to mental health, there is often a stigma about receiving any form of treatment. Many have internalized an ableist viewpoint that this is a sign of weakness. This is untrue.
When you feel sick, you go to the doctor’s office and seek help. You would not feel ashamed picking up insulin as a diabetic or attending chemotherapy as a cancer patient. Treating your ailments is never a sign of weakness. To reach out to the resources available is a sign of absolute strength and moral courage.
There is another option: you can rely on each other. During this semester, I learned a valuable lesson. I learned to lean on other students when I felt unwell, whenever I struggled. I did not expect any help, but I was amazed to see others in the struggle put aside their own pain to help me. In the end, I was able to help them, too.
During times like these it can feel as if “nothing is getting better,” but at the end of the day, we do have each other. By working for each other’s collective health, wellbeing, and safety, we won’t have to wait around for the government to save us. Together, we can save ourselves. Through compassion and understanding, we can always be there for one another when we need it the most.