By Sophia Yakumithis
Last year, I left a Study Abroad trip to London early because I was too depressed to take care of myself.
That’s not a lede I would want to start this piece with, but I thought it’d be a good attention grabber considering it’s a departure from my normal, tongue-in-cheek, “I want Sigourney Weaver to peg me”-type articles.
It’s also true, though. I was in way over my head when I committed to going, and I’m still living out the consequences.
Before I dive in, I want to clear the air on something: I believed that, as a writer and editor, I have evolved from the self-reflective garbage that once yielded praise from older family members. But I suppose that is not the case, as I will now vibe out in the next few paragraphs.
I thought my awareness of adverse living conditions would make me immune to the long-term mental changes of isolation in a different country. That, as we now know, wasn’t the case.
I generally have my s— together, so no one foresaw that such hyper-awareness of my own living habits would make me lose my mind. After a few months of trying to “power through” at the request of my peeps, I had to remove myself from a really bad situation and go home.
I felt like a different person when I came back, and while I still find myself coping with weird residue from what I considered a few months of hell, overall, I’m back to my own version of functional.
I bring this up because Boston University recently released details as to what life will look like if we choose to return to campus this semester. If I’m being completely honest, although there are virtually no alternative ways to implement protocols that will ensure our health, it’s looking quite grim. We’ll be obscenely limited on our possible whereabouts and various added responsibilities will be in place to make sure everyone stays safe.
I live in one of the 41 “high-risk” states listed in Massachusetts’ travel order, so when I return to campus, I will quarantine for two weeks and get COVID-tested twice a week for the semester. Because of these necessary limitations, I find myself with a looming fear of reverting to the self-destructive thoughts and feelings brought upon by my time isolated abroad.
Sure, it’s only two weeks. The optimist would look at this situation and acknowledge that it’s barely a blip in time and that I have an edge considering I’m no stranger to these types of challenges. A realist, however, would recognize that my predisposition to damaging thoughts and behaviors makes me more susceptible to reverting and facing long-term damage, unless, for those two weeks, I actively put all my energy into staying stable — which I know I can do, I just don’t want to. I’m mentally drained.
But I always think about method actors when I need to place myself in a tough mindset for a fixed period of time. Just take Jamie Foxx for example, whose eyelids were covered with prosthetic ones to experience blindness while filming “Ray.” Hopefully, I’ll make it out of this without the post-traumatic stress Foxx had to sort out, but the point is, he was committed to the grind and is now out there living his best life. I’m not sure why that gives me comfort, but it does.
I know I’m not the only one worried about my state of mind this semester. What will it be like without access to certain on campus resources? Will the Spring semester also implement these rules and regulations? And most importantly, how will I get my drank on?
We all chose this school for a reason, and a lot of those reasons won’t exist in Fall 2020. I seriously have no idea how anyone is going to hold up, and some of us might not. All I can say, with the little credibility I have, is that you can probably recover from any emotional damages incurred in the coming months.
Whether you need to see a therapist three times a week, get a tattoo, go skydiving, join a cult, go on meds — literally whatever helps — as a young adult, it’s important to figure out how to stay afloat under your own jurisdiction. And also to forgive yourself for the mistakes you might make while goin’ through it.
Let me be the first to tell you that the brain does some weird stuff in unknown territory, and this pandemic certainly offers no exceptions. All you can do is take it one day at a time, expending energy when you can and reserving it when you need to.
And if you really find yourself completely done with all of this, go outside and lick a table. Or think about being pegged by Sigourney Weaver.