“I GREW up in an unhappy household. My father was often away for work, leaving my mother at home. With minimal social contact, her life centred around her children. Regardless of whatever mood she was in for the day, we had to bear it. Before the pandemic hit, I had university to look forward to. Meeting friends was my therapy. When the pandemic hit, I lost my one true ‘home’, which was the place I felt safe, surrounded by my friends. Being stuck inside the house because of Covid-19 made me feel alone and being locked up took a toll on my mother too, and she vented her frustrations on her children. Finally, in April this year, I got to return to campus and live away from home for a month – it was the happiest month of my life.
Then, in May, my sister was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer. The news dropped on us like a bomb; she had no symptoms and had only gone to the clinic because she felt some discomfort on her lower abdomen. I decided not to return to university to take care of my sister. I switched back to online learning and accompanied her to the hospital for chemotherapy every day for five months. There were many days where I feared the worst and cried myself to sleep. I felt overwhelmed and empty. I was starting the first semester of my degree, dealing with a toxic situation at home and on top of that, I was taking care of my sister and had no social life. I barely made it through that dark time.
Thankfully, my sister is back on her feet and is finishing her final year of medical school. I’m still stuck at home dealing with everything else but I’m choosing to omit all the negativity in my life and to stay strong. I tell myself that I will survive this and realise my dreams. I’m not letting my situation consume me anymore. I hope that one day I will be happy, and will look back on the difficult moments and thank myself for holding on and not giving up.”
Law student who only wants to be known as Katrina, 19
“My mental health has suffered as I have had little contact with my friends and lecturers because of Covid-19. Prior to the pandemic, I was very engaged with them for my studies and projects. On my worst days, I feel hopeless, lonely and frustrated, trying to adapt to this new normal. My mental health is mostly stable, but I have my ups and downs like everyone else. Some of my friends have it much worse than me. One posted worrying apology videos on social media so I reached out to her but I did not get a response. A few days later, I found out she was in a hospital. I believe intervention is key. When I’m down or stressed, I like taking long walks alone to process my thoughts. Spending time with my friends and having a long-term goal that gives me a reason to wake up every day also help.”
Microbiology student Muhamad Danial Nashri Zaidi, 19