I love this photo. It speaks volumes about how even with COVID-19 restrictions lifted, we (society) cannot find ways to get off our electronics or social media. After my health issues this year, I slowly started realising more and more about myself and how all of my passions that used to define me, eventually slowly started my mental health decline.
My passion and love for politics, my love for my university studies and my desire to change the world rapidly changed over the past few months. After studying The Holocaust for an entire semester, my outlook on life was bleak. I genuinely believe in all my heart now that even if a newer generation of young politicians find themselves in government, radical, systemic change is unlikely to occur.
Political, religious, ethnic, sex or class divides are too deeply entrenched into global societies. There will never be peace in Israel-Palestine or in Myanmar. Religious values encroaching upon governments can, will and have restricted women’s rights to easily access contraceptives or abortions (although this is not true for all countries).
I once defined myself by learning about global issues in an attempt to change them, to create a more unified global community. The realisation that I alone cannot do it hit me like a basketball to the face. Maybe it was my youth and naivete that drove me to such conclusions, either way, I don’t regret it. Although I realise now I’d much rather clean up the mess of politicians then to be one myself, it opened my eyes up to the hardships others experience and how I am lucky in the coin toss of the birth lottery.
I used to yearn to understand the lived experiences of others, others in Third World countries, those living under oppressive regimes or people who have experienced war or famine. I now understand that I will never be able to comprehend others, their heartbreak, loss or grief unless I myself am put into these extreme circumstances. How could I ever understand what it is like to slowly lose my child to famine or cholera? Simply reading about it is inadequate.
I have a deep appreciation for my degree. Although it is not complete yet, it has truly given my life so much more meaning. Knowledge is power. I will never take for granted all that I have learnt.
What I realised however, was that all the media do is post negative stories. Everyday, everywhere, my feeds on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook were full of only the bad events occurring. There were minimal signs or posts of positivity, eventually the thought of waking up made me feel dreadful. I do believe purging myself from social media has helped immensely with this.
Although I do not pretend there aren’t real issues in the world, I do believe taking a step back has helped me to take greater care with my mental health. Breaking out of bad habits which negatively impact my life will help. It already has.
Life is too precious and fragile to keep expecting change without working for it. As cliche as it sounds, my new goal is to live in the moment and embrace each day as it comes by.
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After falling sick in August, during the COVID-19 pandemic in Melbourne, Victoria, one of Australia’s worst performing states in regards to COVID cases, I was hospitalised.
With fevers, chills, muscle aches to the point where I couldn’t sit up without being in excruciating pain, needless to say it was the most emotionally draining time of my life. During this period, I had a total of 7 COVID-19 swabs, all of which came back negative. Despite having at the time, 2 negative COVID-19 swabs, hospital doctors decided to put me in a COVID-19 ward, obviously where COVID positive patients were residing.
At this time, restrictions were tough and no family members or friends could visit patients. Although the view was amazing in the COVID-19 ward and I am genuinely thankful to all the doctors who helped me, I still have dreadful anxiety.
From August to September, I spent a total of around 20 days in hospital, watching too much daytime TV like Charmed and getting excited for FRIENDS episodes at around 6-7pm. After having multiple tests like an ultrasound on my legs, MRI for my brain, spine and legs, a PET Scan, CT scan and getting poked multiple times a day for blood. Additionally having a bone marrow biopsy, skin biopsy and lastly a muscle biopsy, needless to say the whole experience was exhausting emotionally for both myself, my family and loved ones.
I was forced to defer from my degree in order to manage my health issues and I lost 6kgs, to eventually gain back more weight due to depression and anxiety about a potential autoimmune disease diagnosis. What’s the worst part of it? There was no clear answer. I live with the anxiety that it could happen again and have to learn to embrace life and all of it’s uncertainties.
My anxiety spikes when I go out and see people without masks on, this overwhelming fear washes over me and I’m consumed by it. Fear that I will end up in there again, alone. Although I do not consider myself fully recovered and still have to deal with the colossal mess which is my life, it taught me a great deal about life.
Getting out of depression is like rock-climbing without all the safety equipment. You’ll most likely fall multiple times back into that empty chasm. You just have to keep trying. To all my fellow book-lovers out there, as Susan Jeffers would say, ‘Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway’.