During this time of quarantine and isolation because of the coronavirus, it can be hard for teens to feel normal. Everything is constantly changing and nothing feels the way that it should. As a community, we went so quickly from going out and going to school, to absolutely nothing. Our summer as teens was basically canceled, followed by our school year. We all say that school is so terrible but now that we do not have it, we miss it. Isolation is an experience that most of us have never encountered, and it’s incredibly difficult to adjust. Going for long periods of time without seeing your friends and extended family is one of the hardest, emotional things that a person can go through, especially young people who are still trying to figure out who they are.
The rates for teen depression, anxiety, and eating disorders are rising, due to teens isolating themselves to protect others. These rates can rise from teens staying in their room to do online school, or not going out to see friends anymore. The Cleveland Clinic states that “If a teen begins isolating to the point that they’re taking all their meals alone, that can be a sign of disordered eating, or that the family dynamic has become toxic” (clevelandclinic.org). Young people have to deal with home life and personal relationships. City students also juggle extracurriculars and the IB program. School used to be a way for students to leave their home, get away, and be able to see their friends. We don’t even have that now, it seems as though there isn’t an escape.
Everyday routines are constant, there isn’t any change or new exciting things on a person’s agenda anymore. There is no more excitement in going out and doing fun things with your friends. Isolation, loneliness, and even boredom can cause these dark feelings, and even more serious problems. “Almost 11 percent of all respondents to [a] survey said they had ‘seriously considered’ suicide in the past 30 days. For those ages 18 to 24, the number was 1 in 4 — more than twice as high.” (npr.org)
I consulted Ms. Givens, a guidance counselor at City, to ask what advice she would give to students. I asked her, “For kids who are feeling overwhelmed or worried about their grades and schoolwork, what would you say are good ways to relieve that stress or anxiety?”
Ms. Givens gives three pieces of advice.
Ms. Givens stated that students should “set up systems”. This means when trying to keep track of your schoolwork, use an agenda or calendar and go through all of the notes at the end of each day to write down due dates and important events coming up.
Ms. Givens also states, “Make it visual!”; meaning in order to remember important dates make them visual to yourself using sticky notes or even a dry erase board.
Lastly, she says to work with others. Create a “study group”. Relying on your peers can help with questions that you don’t want to ask to a teacher. Additionally, you can lean on fellow students when the workload becomes overwhelming. Thank you Ms. Givens for your great advice. Guidance staff is always on hand to help advise students, and help out when things become difficult.
We lost a fellow student last school year to suicide.
This tragic event took place at the beginning of last school year, even before coronavirus was a thing. Sadly as a community, his death was never mourned by students and faculty, as well as we were never given an opportunity to celebrate his life. It is devastating that we lost someone so young and with so much potential and his death was pushed to the side without any attention. Looking back it’s fair to say that student’s mental health was struggling even before isolation and Covid.
Dark thoughts and those feelings are not something that a person should ever have to go through on their own. The days are dreary and repetitive. It’s okay to have bad days. Some days it’s hard to think about things positively. It can be hard to get out of bed, go to class, do that school assignment every day. Still, it’s important just to take it day by day.
We are all doing the best we can.
Remember that you still have people around that are here for you. Call your friends, go on a walk, take a nap, watch a movie. Focus on yourself sometimes. Anxiety, depression, or eating disorders can’t be solved overnight. Those feelings are hard and are something that takes time to heal. It is important to reach out when things get too much for you to handle on your own. Some days are going to be harder than others and those days will feel like the end of the world. But then you will have that good day, and that one good day can make all the difference. Please remember that there are resources out there for you and you do not need to go through this alone.
Suicide Hotline Number: 1-800-273-8255
Relax, and breathe. You got this!