Being a freshman at BU during this Covid school year is definitely different than what I expected a year ago as I applied. I went from constantly running around to different classes and activities to simply switching to different zoom calls in my dorm room. So, personally I haven’t felt burnt out at all this year. However, I might as well have been a used match during high school. I was one of the busy kids, starting my day early and then getting home late. There were nights I didn’t enter my house until 10pm, so when it finally got time to complete my homework I was exhausted. With AP classes my homework load was always a lot, and I also managed a department of my drama club so I had to make plans for that as well. This resulted in a less than healthy amount of sleep and a huge toll on my mental health. Senior year is actually what caused me to finally take the step of reaching out to a doctor for a diagnosis. Things started to make a lot more sense when I learned that besides my obvious OCD, I was also bipolar. My anxiety levels were through the roof and my doctor advised that I quit one of my after school activities, however those activities are actually what I used to keep myself happy. School was always stressful for me, so I made sure I had drama to look forward to after school. The stage was my happy place. But if there was a stressful rehearsal, I also had my dance classes that could help brighten my days. The dance studio is where my anxiety always seemed to float away.
While for some people therapy is a great option (and should not be something to be ashamed of! Reaching out for help is one of the strongest things you can do!), I knew it wasn’t the best option for me. Dance was the best way to express myself and is actually what allowed myself to feel better when I was having a bad day. This was my escape and no matter what was going on with my mental health I could just move to the music and put all of my emotions into that. While it did take up time in my schedule, if I didn’t have dance during the school year I honestly don’t think I would have the motivation to get up each day. When you are working so hard it's important to have something to look forward to. While mine was dance, it could be something as simple as getting to watch a favorite show or reading a good book. This was my way of balancing my life with the important things like school, but also things I got enjoyment from.
And then Corona hit.
Having a mental illness during a pandemic is not a great time. I lost my escape. It’s hard to have a dance class when you’re encouraged to social distance and limit numbers. So I moved into BU hoping for a brighter year. As a political science major I knew I had my work cut out for me, so my new goal was to find a new escape. I actually ended up turning toward crocheting, which I never imagined I would love so much. While I couldn’t create art with my dancing as much, I turned around and made new creations with yarn. I think the repetition in crocheting really helped as well, it is something that just calms down your mind. With this new escape, I do feel happy again. While the pandemic caused a small bump in my mental health journey, I feel better now. I feel motivated each day and try to fill the empty spaces with something that benefits my health in some way. So, here is your reminder to find your own balance in your life. Work hard in school so your future is well, but also do something for yourself daily so you feel happy in the present.
Some helpful resources!
My current favorite quick meditation: https://youtu.be/n9ja1Wqkp1U
Ways to reach out anonymously: https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/2019/08/three-ways-to-get-mental-health-help-anonymously/
A playlist to ease your thoughts: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4nQE6AY2YwnymjbGzH0wMs?si=iqoa-V5xSu2zuaMkhivzNw