This is part of an ongoing Das Tor series: T-birds Under Quarantine. We asked current students to write personal narratives of their experiences while in quarantine during the COVID-19 Pandemic, varying in location, restrictions, and personal situations.
COVID Mental Maladjustment
I remember stepping back into school to begin the second semester, eager and excited. Do you ever get the feeling where you begin a new semester with a great attitude, making a declaration about becoming a new, better version of yourself? Well, sometimes procrastination sets in, and then all your resolutions fall to the wayside.
That was the feeling I had when I got to KNUST campus on January 13, 2020, to begin the second semester of my junior year. Nothing about COVID occurred to me. The semester as usual started smoothly, with me going for lectures and doing all my prep work.
Then, in late January, my roommate showed me a news update about COVID on her phone. I remember seeing it, glancing through, and being like, “What haven’t we seen before? Ebola came uninvited and vanished without even a goodbye, so this too shall pass.” After all, how did the news concern me? The cruise ship with the coronavirus cases was not anywhere near Africa, let alone going to land in Ghana.
As time went on, news about corona started spreading like wildfire around the world. People started questioning the government of Ghana about why borders were still not closed. I woke up one morning to the news that two infected, uninvited guests had arrived on the shores of Ghana. First, I assumed it was just a rumor– how was a ship that was so far away able to reach here overnight? However, reported cases kept increasing by the day.
On March 10th, the heads of state in collaboration with educational institutions came to the decision to temporarily shut down schools because cases kept increasing. Going home, my roommate and I packed only a handful of clothes, thinking we would be back in about 2-3weeks time. Little did we know, we were going to grow into grandmothers and fathers in our homes.
I got home and was met by my two troublesome brothers. My only thought was, “Really? Am I going to spend this lockdown with these boys? I smell trouble, damage, and disturbance! No, this is not good.”
I lived in a small town in Ghana where the disease had not reached. However, we had to adhere to the protocols put in place by the government, and the law enforcement agencies made sure of that. Fortunately, our movements were not that restricted. My mom and dad were even able to go to work, but I was stuck at home with my brothers.
I usually got up from bed at 7 a.m. and did my chores: sweeping and getting breakfast ready for the family. I then would get behind my computer and start to work on a cross-cultural project with my teammates: 2 Americans, a Pakistanian, and a Saudi Arabian (who down the road had to drop out because even online academic activities were shut down in her part of Saudi Arabia). I watched TV, slept, got up in the afternoon to prepare dinner, then zoomed back to my favorite spot on the couch. I had a number of television programs lined-up, including programs that did not really appeal to me, but I was watching anyway (That is what COVID can do!). I would read at night for a while, trying to be proactive under the assumption we would have to take our exam online later, which happened. This was my routine until early April when I completed the project I was working on. This made me very bored, so I visited the companies to which I had applied for internships during school to find out if there were any vacant positions. All three places declined me, citing the reason that they were running rotation with their current employees after the government had limited the number that could be present. As a result, I could not add to the number. The private companies were even locked down.
The month after was like hell! There were times I would lay in bed most of the day without taking in anything, not even water. I would lay lifelessly in bed just staring at the ceiling, at nothing. I would sometimes open the fridge and fill my mouth with anything edible I could find in there. I mostly wanted to be all by myself and lock myself in my room. I could go on for days without knowing where my cell phone was. There were moments I felt hopeless, aimless, and useless. I felt suffocated waking up to the same old routine each day, which sometimes had me questioning the essence of my existence. I sometimes got angry at my brothers because of petty things they did. One time I felt so sad, I opened my diary and wrote this:
It is so dark
I feel burdened and hopeless
I feel lifeless
I want to shout for help but…..No sound
I feel sad
Why am I alive
There is no purpose
I feel like screaming out but…..No sound…I just can’t
My family realized I was not doing well, but it was difficult for them to figure that out because I am the introverted type. My family started jogging early in the morning. I resisted for some time, but I eventually joined them. Later, they all stopped going, but I kept going because I felt relaxed and refreshed whenever I ran. My mom started taking me to her shop so I could be around people and talk as well.
Eventually, I felt less entangled in my thoughts, free, and relaxed. Around June, I started a role as the sales representative in my mom’s shop, which helped to keep me busy.
As my story shows, mental health is important. However, one interesting thing is that you do not realize you are suffering until you become overly consumed by it. Mental health affects everyone, no matter one’s gender, age, or level of income.
Remember that, as T-birds, we are in this together. Stay updated on our series on pre, during, and post COVID mental health . Likewise, do not hesitate to reach out and share any experiences you may have. Forks Up.
Do Not Suffer in Silence
It is sometimes good to share your problem.
Make yourself stronger by making your problems heard.
Mental Health Resources
Call 911 if you or someone you know is in immediate danger.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255); En Español 1-888-628-9454
People who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have hearing loss can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889.
Crisis Text Line
Text “HELLO” to 741741
Veterans Crisis Line
Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press 1 or text to 838255