I’m just going to start off by saying yes, this quarantine has been hard on me in some ways rather than others, so don’t judge because we are all human here. However, my main takeaway from my time in quarantine is realizing that I needed this time. I needed this time for myself, my thoughts and feelings, my eating habits, my school work, time away from work, and lastly needed time to catch a breath. I have been constantly going nonstop since I was 16, to be completely honest. I overworked myself and gave myself away to others more than I gave time to myself. I continued this lifestyle through high school and community college, but especially during my first quarter at UC San Diego last Fall 2019. I overworked and stressed myself out so much that my mental health, along with my physical health, weakened.
However, I learned and lessened my load for winter quarter, and then COVID-19 hit hard and we all got stuck in quarantine. I never really was worried about being in quarantine because I’m already so much of a homebody, but I knew a part of me was going to suffer because my one escape from all the craziness life brought to me was closed down —and yes, I’m talking about the gym. However, that is my escape, and it’s very therapeutic for me, so you can see my worry. But what I will say now that we are now nine weeks in is: Quarantine, oh how I needed you. Quarantine has not been easy, but it was definitely needed. While I know I always try to look on the positive side of every situation, I am going to give you an inside look on my good days and my not so good ones.
I was excited to be home with my parents and the majority of my siblings. I had high hopes that I would still continue working out, eating healthy, and spending quality time with my family. I didn’t have to worry about commuting to school or work because my work closed down. I was going to keep my same schedule and fill the “free time” by spending time with family and reading more. I had high hopes for quarantine.
My grandma moved from Florida to my hometown, and while her house was being prepared for her, she had to stay with me and my parents. She was afraid of me bringing something into the house because I was going back and forth between my brother’s apartment and my parents’. Although my brother, his girlfriend, and I only hung out with each other, I respected her concerns and moved into my brother’s apartment until she moved into her own place. My family-filled quarantine was not looking like how I planned.
School was starting to stress me out because no matter how many countless hours I was studying for one of my classes, I was still doing poorly. However, I knew I wasn’t the only one because practically the whole class was failing, so it made me feel a little better, even though it shouldn’t have. My quarantine expectations were becoming false hopes. I could no longer see one of my sisters because she works for the jails, and she was at high risk. I would go to my parents once a week to see my dog, and it was not easy for me. My anxiety was abnormally high because of not being with my dog. However, I just tried to stick to my normal routine — better days to come.
I went to visit my dog when she got into it with one of my parents’ dogs, and I decided it was best to take her back to San Diego where we were living before quarantine with one of my other sisters. My sister and her husband were more than willing to take care of her for the time being. My mental health was starting to take the turn for the worse. I was eating more because I was in a funk and frankly bored. I knew this was bad, and I was falling back into a bad state. My anxiety was steadily increasing. I was getting anxiety attacks at the thought of sleep, so I would stay up until five in the morning doing homework or watching TV. I was scared to sleep. I was unmotivated to eat right and to workout. I was not okay, but better days to come.
I sat there one day beating myself up about school and how I let myself get into this funk when I realized I was just trying to fill voids that I didn’t want to acknowledge. The better days came. I let myself be in a funk for about two weeks. No matter what I did or tried, nothing helped. However, I started my normal routine from prior to quarantine. I started going on daily walks, worked out even when I didn’t feel like it, and reduced the unnecessary food. Slowly but surely I was getting back to my normal self. Then, tragedy hit and my brother’s apartment caught on fire from an old gas leak. Nothing was severely damaged, and no one was hurt. I realized that no matter what is going on, you can’t control life, but you can control your thoughts and actions — better days to come.
I drove down to San Diego and spent the week with my dog. I focused on her and myself. My anxiety was lowering, and I was much happier. Being able to spend quality alone time with myself, my thoughts, and my dog brought this realization that I never really fixed my bad habits; I simply pushed them aside because I never had the time to fix them. I spent the week reading, working out, acknowledging when and why I choose to eat something not as healthy for me, and obviously doing homework. Day by day I am focusing on myself, and I have realized it is okay to be selfish.
My quarantine has been chaotic, but it has never stopped me from looking for positives out of every situation. I learned a lot about mental state during this time. I always pushed things to the side because I felt that I never had time to deal with them. This quarantine brought out the best and the worst of me, and that is okay. I took this time to heal and readjust to how I need to live. It is okay to fall off track, lose focus, and fail. All that matters is how you bounce back. Yes, I am summing up my quarantine chronicle in a positive light because there’s always light at the end of the tunnel —which I repeat to myself weekly. Quarantine will soon pass, and we will recover from the hard times. Most importantly, we will grow from what this pandemic has taught us. Stay strong, as we are all in this together.