How the pandemic changed me.
Content Warning: Domestic Violence and Mental Health
Looking back on the last four years, I realize how much about me and my life has changed because of the pandemic.
When the world shut down, I was in the tenth grade. I was just beginning to understand who I wanted to be. Also, I was in a brand-new relationship.
The pandemic was an extremely isolating experience. During a time of my life where I was meant to be out with friends, in high school, and working, I was stuck in my home. Within two months I felt completely hopeless. As someone who struggled with anxiety prior to the pandemic, my anxiety skyrocketed with this new world. I turned to my doctor, and I was lucky enough to be put on anxiety medications. Those medications made an enormous difference. The hopelessness diminished, and I felt more human again. Then things picked up with my relationship.
Unfortunately, what I thought was going to be a healthy relationship turned into a domestic violence situation. For the year and a half of a shut-down world, I lived with a man who abused me. And this was not an uncommon occurrence. Time Magazine notes that “growing evidence shows the pandemic has made intimate partner violence more common – and often more severe.” The isolation of the pandemic turned dangerous and stressful. Not only was I struggling severely mentally, I was pushed into a situation where I was physically unsafe. With these things combined, I was not capable of leaving my house. I was trapped by my mind and a person. I couldn’t go to work, and I was attending school online to avoid being outside; 2020-2022 were undoubtedly the worst years of my life.
The good news is none of those things lasted forever. Once the world started to reopen and things became accessible, my relationship ended. I was free from isolation and could make choices for myself again. At first, I had to work through all the torment and try to understand exactly what happened to me. This process was long. I only felt better and safer a year after the relationship ended.
Presently, I am amazed at my progress. I am now surrounded by friends and family who love me wholeheartedly and gently. I am working part time and am a full-time college student. I’ve started therapy. And finally, I feel ready to get off my anxiety medication. The pandemic was a terrible time for me, and everyone else. However, looking back on it now, I think I learned and grew so much. I learned that love is not supposed to hurt. I learned it is okay to take a break and seek help. And I learned I am a strong and capable person.
If you had told me three years ago, I would attend college, be working, and have a social life I would have laughed in your face. These concepts all seemed so out of reach for me. And now that I have them, I feel like I can do anything. I implore you to look at your own experiences and appreciate how much you have grown. Be proud that you are not who you once were. You are capable, strong, and so wonderful. You are worthy of great love, excellent support, and a life you are proud of.