sign reading "lockdown"

The Covid rut

Why has it affected young people so much?

Current issuesMental health and wellbeing
By VoiceBox ·

Ava (not her real name)

A young writer from the UK.

"It felt like I was in a constant cycle of unbearable normality."

It’s no secret that the past year has been difficult for everyone. We all were semi-aware that we’d probably see pandemic in our lifetime, but never did I think that it would have the audacity to take away my champagne years. Your early 20s is meant to be the best time of your life, but for me it felt like the opposite. 

Covid first struck when I had just turned 23. I had not long graduated and was still finding my feet after being in a university bubble for three years. While post-education depression is a common symptom of graduating, the added stress of Covid and lockdown was nothing short of what felt like a mid-life crisis.

Perhaps I’m being unreasonable. I’m young, employed, I can put food on the table, and no one in my family has been hugely affected by the virus. But although the physical technicalities of Covid have not so far had an adverse effect on my life, my mental health has taken a toll.

It felt like I was in a constant cycle of unbearable normality. Wake up, work, have dinner, sleep and repeat. Every single day for months my routine remained the same, and I became stuck in a pool of predictability and dissatisfaction. Always a worrier, I developed generalised anxiety disorder and OCD, yet no NHS mental health service had the time to help other than a diagnosis and some pills to patch up the dark hole I was falling into. My former illness of anorexia also flared up as I used food as a coping mechanism to deal with my life spinning out of control.

I was trapped. There was (quite literally) nowhere to go outside the four walls of my tiny flat in South London. I became depressed and irritated, constantly feeling sorry for myself and like my life lacked any purpose. I didn’t want to be a ‘picket fence’ girl, and yet that was exactly what I had become. I had all these dreams, and no way of fulfilling them. 

I must have been pretty unbearable to be around. My best friend told me she couldn’t deal with the responsibility of looking after me any longer, and my partner said he was sick of pretending to be happy to keep me afloat when his own mental health was deteriorating. But I saw no point in making an effort to fix myself. I felt angry and like my future had been robbed. So why should I bother when everything had been taken away?

I can see now that this outlook was wrong. Yes, the last year has been terrible, but what I failed to realise was that I was not the only one suffering. Plenty of young people across the world have all struggled with their mental health this past year. You only need to look at the stats to find substantial proof on how much we’ve all had to deal with. 

I’m not sure why it has affected young people the most. Perhaps it’s the employment crisis, the loneliness, the constant fear that our futures have been ruined by this cruel, cruel virus. Or perhaps it’s simply because we couldn’t even leave our bedrooms to go for a pint.

Either way, I have been selfish. Yes, my mental health plummeted and the NHS didn’t prioritise me. Yes, I felt helpless. Yes, I was stuck. Yes, I have been robbed of (some) of my early 20s. But it’s been the same for almost all young people. 

And seeing as we’re all in this together, I should have tried a bit harder to fix my outlook and support those around me rather than worrying about how my life was wasting away. Because it isn’t, really. This is temporary. And we all should try our hardest to remember that.

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