COLLEGE HEALTH #2: PANGS AND PANDEMICS

The winter was finally beginning to lift. The snow was just about letting way to the hefty throngs of green grass that lay suffocated away for weeks. The clouds appeared ready to part, letting the blue skies and yellow sunshine through to centerstage. iPhone screens were waking us up to mornings carefully calibrated to the mid-50s. Branches had lain bear and bracken for unyielding, frigid months of a cold war, and even they were relenting- slowly, but surely- spotting with the colorful buds of spring. It was finally here. The end of the winter, and the onset of a warm wonderfulness every University of Michigan student awaits desperately as February bleeds into March.

But as the month began, the bleeding we awaited quickly turned into bloodshed. white flowered tree against vivid blue sky Wara Nimprapuad via pexels

Coming back from spring break was a varied experience for everyone. There was the inarguably attractive notion of an in-person semester morphing into an in-bed quarter, that I am sure a part of us resonated with. But the humble happiness of the lazy mind is swiftly laid to rest by the crushing realization that the true meaning of a worldwide pandemic is much deeper than the desire for a state of constant pajamas.

During this time there are some groups that are likely more affected than others. Although such a claim is not meant to trivialize any one perspective, and is in no way a comprehensive list, here are some identities to be conscious of in the coming weeks as we navigate through this whirlwind change.

1. Socio-economic status. black and white hands counting coins Pixabay - Frantisek Krejci

When disaster strikes, it hardly strikes fair. Even in our joint misery, there are layers. That is the unfortunate structure of our society where money is a safety net- usually the first to be lost in a crisis. With social distancing mandates spreading like wildfire, more and more people are facing unemployment at a time when the economy is already in recession. Although the stimulus package the government is sending out will attempt to alleviate some of these burdens, for many families that have been living without a paycheck for a long time, it will not be enough. They will need the grocery stores and the emergency services in the coming weeks. So if you do have stuff at home, try to make do with it for as long as you can. We need to give the people who have been scavenging through this crisis a chance to finally get the sustenance the need for their families.

2. Race. World globe Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

Race and ethnicity is more than a requirement that you fulfill to get your LSA degree. It’s more than a class that you scramble to find when you recieve your degree audit and realize that you forgot R&E was another thing liberal education demanded of you. Yet, the demand is not unwarranted. That we are all of different races is not just a fact, but for some people it’s an unfortunate reality- especially in the midst of an international crisis. The virus we are plagued with right now is the Coronavirus. It is COVID-19. It is not the Wuhan virus. It is not the Chinese Virus.

Problems are not solved with division, they’re solved with compassion. Avoiding Asian-run small business, abandoning their food, whispering cruel words as people from these countries walk past, spreading fake news on social media, even believing news spread by others- it’s not worthy of people who call UofM their home.

Being cognizant and respectful of other identities in this time is what sets us apart as recipients of a liberal education. Being able to empathize with and transcend the barriers of a superiority complex that’s often thrust down our throats by mass media is what makes us the leaders and the best.

3. Mental Health.

self-love Original Illustration by Gina Escandon for Her Campus Media I know this time makes a lot of us very anxious. Uncertainty hangs like a painfully damp cloud in the air. What will it be like tomorrow? How many more days will be repetitions of the same inane numbness? When can I stop tracking numbers? When can I stop bathing in sanitizer and cowering in fear? It’s heartbreaking, to say the least, that the world has turned into a warzone against an enemy so small it can’t be seen. And while, every single one of us has the right to our responses, words like depression, anxiety, and OCD are getting thrown around an awful lot these days.

Running out of toilet paper may be giving you a “panic attack,” but just the thought of it actually causes a medically-concerning break down in some. There are those for whom being locked at home means obsessively worrying to the point of being unable to carry out daily tasks. For others isolation is a crushing experience that can only be fought medically with the support of a community or a therapist- both compromised dueing this pandemic.

Language is a powerful tool, and in a time like this where physicality has been stripped of us, words are all we have to wield. It is our duty to use them responsibly. Appropriating terms can be tempting because it’s the lingo... but for some people it’s a battle they have

to fight every day. We’re all living at a time where we are especially vulnerable to the words of our peers. Use this power with caution and love.

Stay safe. Stay home. Stay healthy. xx