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"How The Pandemic Affected Me" by Kyla Harry

Mental health is something I have never exactly had a problem with. I have always been a person who stresses out about things and I always think worse case scenarios, but I have definitely noticed a change in my mental health since covid began. It all started in the summer of 2020. I had fewer distractions, so I began to think a lot more and kind of lived in my head. I would get these scary, intrusive thoughts mainly at night, but because I never really had them before I just tried to ignore them. These thoughts began to really upset me, so I talked to my mom about them without going into detail. She didn’t have much experience with intrusive thoughts either, so we went to the store to buy some “ anxiety workbooks” which I barely even touched. After a while, the thoughts began to fade away and I felt fine. When school started up again, I was really happy to see my friends again and be in an atmosphere beside my home. Things were great until near the end of my first quad, where I began to have intrusive thoughts again, except this time they were different. I started to have sort of irrational fears. The whole fear came from something I saw off of social media (specifically TikTok) so the best thing I could do to “solve” the issue was to just delete TikTok. I started to find different things that sort of sparked fear in me, and I began to get really sad because these thoughts just wouldn’t go away. They began to affect my day-to-day because I would get distracted easier, and randomly become upset, and sometimes I just felt like I needed to escape. It sucked because at the same time I was having all of these anxious feelings, I also had to deal with the fact that both my grandma and my cat were really sick. School was on and off with lockdowns and learning from my laptop wasn’t the best for me either because I wasn’t around my friends and teachers to keep me motivated. I was constantly stressed and upset and I was just mentally exhausted. At this point, I just felt like I wasn’t myself anymore. I began to be very hard on myself, and it felt like there was a voice in my head telling me I wasn’t worthy of anything. I didn’t want any help when it came to this stuff so I never really told anyone, not even my parents for a long time. I was just afraid because I thought nobody was going to understand how I felt. That is why I just kept all these feelings to myself. After a while, I started to realize that opening up and talking stuff out can actually make me feel better, so I talked to my mom, dad, and some other family members, and I began to feel a lot better. I still struggle to this day with anxious thoughts, and to be honest, I will probably always be hard on myself, but it is something I am learning to deal with/ try to improve on. I am also so thankful I have such an amazing support system to help me through my day-to-day, with any anxious thoughts that come my way.

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