This week, Her Campus Bryant is partnering with Bryant Counseling Services to raise awareness of the services that Bryant offers and encourage Bulldogs to reach out and use these free resources on campus. For this article, Bryant junior, Siobhan, reflects on the pandemic and the way it’s shaped her mental health:
It’s been over one year since the United States went into its first lockdown and COVID-19 took over the world. The weekend outings with friends immediately disappeared and life was thrown into a complete standstill. When I think back on this time, I think about the range in emotions that I felt. I was disappointed that I was losing part of my sophomore year in college, I was hopeful that it would all be over soon, and I was overwhelmed at the thought of taking my classes completely online and having it all still make sense. But as the months went on and trips got cancelled, I became more self-aware of how I worked alone, not surrounded by my friends or the Bryant bubble that I had gotten so used to. I realized that I relied on the people around me to motivate me, and when I was at home away from other college students, my motivation needed to come from within. My parents and brother understood how school was working, but they weren’t in college, and they didn’t fully understand the life I had left behind at Bryant. I slowly started creating a new routine for myself, I scheduled in time for homework, I scheduled in time for the workouts that everyone was trying on YouTube, and I did my best to get back into the busy routine I had on campus.
Now, over a year later so many things have changed. As we returned to Bryant’s campus in the fall of 2020, I was overjoyed at the thought of life being somewhat normal. The cases seemed to have gone down during the summer of 2020 and I slowly became more comfortable seeing small groups of friends in outdoor and socially distant settings. Now being back at school, I was ready to do all the normal things. And as the semester ended without, I felt lucky to have made it through the semester without being contact traced or testing positive for COVID-19.
But leading into the spring of 2021 semester, life seemed to turn back to events of the previous spring. Within the first two weeks of being back at school, I was contact traced and placed into quarantine and then,10 days later, I tested positive for COVID-19, adding another 10 days to my quarantine. It was a strange process, I felt lucky that my symptoms were manageable, but I was also very emotional. The only thing I wanted to do was go home to my own bed in my own house and quarantine with my family by my side just like you would when you were a child staying home sick from school. It was tough, but by the time I finally was able to go home again, it made it that much more rewarding to see my family and my dog again.
This year has been a lot, and everyone has handled it differently. As I write this now, I am already one dose into the COVID-19 vaccine and feeling optimistic about what this next year will look like as the vaccine roles out. My mental health has changed as the year passed, but if there is one thing, I can take away from this past year it is that there is no right way to deal with the pandemic. I may have never felt the need to sit with someone from counseling services, but many people have and that is completely valid. I hope that this week helps to bring awareness of the services that Bryant already offers and drives you to think about what you need as the pandemic draws on.
We are incredibly grateful that Siobhan was open to sharing her emotions and experiences with the COVID-19 pandemic, as so many of us can relate. Siobhan’s reflection offers insight on the life of a college student during this time, which we are all able to understand based on our own feelings and what each of us has gone through this past year. Thank you Siobhan!