In this installment of Our Stories, Journalism student Khdrea explains how she manages her anxiety since COVID19… For many people, Jamaica is pictured as an island paradise – white sandy beaches, a beautiful and vivacious culture, rich and wholesome food and attractive people. And while that image is not far from the truth, if the lens are focused on the inspirational stories of ordinary Jamaicans, you would find a sharper, richer and truer image of the Jamaican experience… this is Our Stories!
It is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a show stopper since its arrival on Jamaican soil and just about almost everywhere in the world. COVID-19 has definitely contributed to the stress and anxiety felt by many persons across the globe but let us check in with how it has impacted young people within the generation group, Millennials or Gen Z.
Meet Khdrea Jones – 21-year-old, final year Journalism student
She has shared in an expressive way how this pandemic has affected her and made her feel in many ways. She discloses some of the difficulties she experienced before school resumed online, what it was like to transition from face-to-face schooling to online learning, how the uncertainty of the pandemic made her feel about her part-time job on campus, the anxiety that brewed prior to COVID related events and the coffee that was made when it arrived, the inability to see and socialize with close friends, as well as some of the coping mechanisms she adopted to keep herself at ease during this time.
Khdrea had several things to say when she was interviewed about how life has been, since COVID-19.
- How did you feel when COVID, unfortunately, reached our borders?
To be honest, I was a bit paranoid. When I felt a little tickle in my throat or a little stuffiness or sneeze coming on, it made me feel on edge. I would sanitize and wash my hands every minute. I never wah see nuhbody, I never wah go close to anybody and if I went on the road, as soon as I got home I would take a shower. I wasn’t haven’t it!
- Do you have fears about contracting the virus?
Certainly, because I think about the fact of how easily transmissible this virus is and also about the fact that I have asthma, so I am at risk. I mean, I wouldn’t even say my asthma is bad but when I get sick, I get sick, so me say ello me nah run no risk out there. I also live with someone who is elderly and I don’t want to put them at risk either so me say me nuh love the road. Me nuh love it.
- You weren’t going out like usual then?
No, I stayed put and I didn’t want to go anywhere. Mi did glad say all school lock too cause I was not going to take no bus or any form of public transport … Mi jus really never did wah deh round nobody.
- Oh okay, I understand. So, on the topic of school, did you experience any challenges being a final year student during this pandemic?
You know, I have to big up Jesus because God is a good God. The only challenge that I probably had was the fact that my computer had stopped working in the time frame that school had been closed. But, I had to get it fixed because I had so much work to do. Thankfully, I got it back the same week school had resumed online. So, I was able to get work done.
- What was it like going from face to face schooling to remote learning?
Um, it was … I wouldn’t say it was difficult but I only found it difficult for classes that I wasn’t interested in. Classes that I had issues focusing on when I was physically at school, I had a problem focusing at home. So, if the lecturers were not engaging from in the classroom, joining online classes would have been hard for me. But overall, I didn’t have much of a problem with the transition.
- What about work … did you or do you have a job?
Yes, I work part-time on campus.
- When COVID arrived, did you still have your job with UWI?
I still had my job but I wasn’t in the frame of mind to get an adequate amount of work done because it was hard to process that we are really and truly now in the middle of a pandemic. “Never glad me come out come see this, never love that fi nuhbody”.
- Why was it that you were not in the frame of mind for work?
Well remember I had said that my computer had stopped working … so I wasn’t able to get any work done. Also, my contract would have been up in early April but Corona came in early March. So, mi jus neva bodda wid nuh more cause me contract up so say wah di point?
- Pretty much you didn’t feel motivated to do any work?
Yeahhh … pandemic a gwan outta door, mi couldn’t focus. That’s crazy.
- So, do you feel uncertain about the next steps to take?
Well, I worried for a bit if I would graduate because I should be interning at this time to wrap up the requirements for my degree and I thought to myself ‘pandemic a gwan outta door which person me aguh get work from? Who’s going to employ me?’ But again, God is good, because I eventually got through to an internship.
- That’s great. So, what did you do to keep yourself focused on school and your internship, despite all that was happening?
Well, I would get up and put on school or work clothes so that I could get myself in the frame of mind that ‘yes, it’s work or school time and I have to get work done.’
I did this because it helped me to keep focused or establish somewhat of a schedule.
- Okay well, that leads me to ask, how has this pandemic impacted your mental state?
Well, since 2020 I have been very anxious or have been experiencing a lot of anxiety. I mean, it’s not something that I usually have a problem with. “But since all a dem dramatics yah weh really a take place”, my anxiety is at an all-time high because you just never know what’s coming next.
- So, are you saying that you didn’t have any pre-existing mental health issues prior to COVID?
No .. I mean .. I don’t think so. Honestly, I don’t know if it is really anxiety I have or if it’s just a normal human reaction. But for me, if I don’t read my bible and dem likkle sumn there… my anxiety would just continue to hit sky high and I’d just feel like the world is coming to an end.
- What about your friends … how do you feel not being able to see them?
I experienced separation anxiety. I definitely felt sad that I couldn’t see my friends as often as I use to so I would video call them every now again and make sure I text them and let them know how much I missed them and appreciate them. Even sometimes now I’m still sad that I can’t just go out and see them when I want to. While I do miss them, I understand that we can’t fraternize like we use to, right now.
- Have you adopted any coping mechanisms to help you get through this period?
Yes, I have enuh.
- What are some of these coping mechanisms?
Well, for one I started baking with my aunt. I also have a little feature that I started doing every week on my Instagram called this or that. So, basically what I would do is put together different outfits and my followers would select either this outfit or that outfit. Oh, I even picked up drawing and coloring.
- How have engaging in all these coping activities made you feel?
Man, I really have enjoyed doing them. I especially loved doing my this or that feature because it’s fun for me. I dressed up, did a little makeup, did my own hair … it really did help put my mind at ease.
Thanks for sharing your story Khdrea