“Pandemic.” It’s a word that most people had never heard of before March of 2020, let alone knew the meaning of. For two students, family played a key role in helping them through this pandemic.
Navid S., a fifth year student at WCI, had this to say about the early news reports about coronavirus coming out of China: “I thought it was like nothing really serious because it’s in China and I’m in Canada and that’s a long trip to go.” Despite hearing reports from his family back home in Iran that the disease was picking up and infecting more people, Navid was not fully convinced about how bad this was rumoured to be. Nevertheless, he started washing his hands more and being more cautious.
In describing his mental health throughout the pandemic, Navid said that at the beginning he struggled a bit with keeping his spirits up. “My mom wasn’t in my city: she was back in [Iran], and I was alone here. That was a real tough time for me.” He said he kept occupied with video games, and he tried listening to music when he was particularly bored. Navid mentioned that sometimes he would get so lonely he would just stare into space.
Despite not having his family physically with him, Navid would make phone calls to his family members back home daily and kept in close contact with them over text. This ability to check in with those who meant the most to him and have their presence close kept his spirits up when he was feeling down.
As a result of the lockdown, this lack of face-to-face interaction – something he normally relied on – caused him to feel isolated during this unforeseen time. As a result he felt disconnected from those around him, depending on entertainment through music and video games to keep his mind occupied. However, the ability to talk to his family members and see them over video calls helped his mental health, as he still had that connection to those who meant the most to him.
Andrew L. lives with his father and younger sister in Waterloo. The ability to spend time with people close to him during the pandemic gave Andrew a different perspective on COVID-19. He said, “Oddly enough, when it hit Canada I wasn’t as nervous as I was when it was in China, [as I slowly got used to the pandemic] and the thought of COVID-19 staying around.”
Andrew says that during quarantine he kept himself busy with “facetime calls with friends and family and socially distant visits.” Having family members living in surrounding neighbourhoods gave Andrew a bit of an escape from being stuck in his own house all of the time. Keeping his spirits up and giving him the chance to keep busy, he didn’t notice a big decline in his mental health.
Andrew graduated from Bluevale C.I. in June, and being a highschool senior, he wasn’t able to experience the more memorable aspects of his final year.
He says, “I was disappointed because I didn’t get to make the memory of going to prom with my friends and peers. The same applies to graduation, with the memory being taken away and the ability to spend that time with my friends taken away. It was like having dessert but not getting to have the cherry on top.”
For Navid and Andrew, having people around them who they were able to connect with and empathize with could be considered the most important link in getting them through this pandemic.
With rising numbers of cases of COVID-19 in the province, lessons learned from the first wave may prove useful to remember.FOLLOW FJORD: