By Allison Brown, Managing Editor
I owe Covid-19 my life.
I have struggled with my mental health my entire life. Through a combination of genetics and a traumatic childhood, I am constantly battling depression, anxiety, OCD and PTSD.
The early months of 2020 were a dark time for me — pitch black, really. It was typical depression: unhappiness, no motivation, no emotion, no desire to do anything other than lay in bed. I asked myself over and over again what the point was. Why try? Why keep going?
I started self-harming again, something that I once battled every day, but hadn’t succumb to in years.
I live alone in a studio apartment in Birmingham. When UAB cancelled in-person classes, I had no obligations to stop me from becoming a complete recluse. Then, Birmingham issued a stay-at-home order, which meant that even if I wanted to go out and try to do something, I couldn’t.
My days started around noon, I started drinking at 1 p.m., and went to sleep around 3:30 a.m..
One of these nights, I had too much to drink and not enough sleep. I got in a deep depressive state. I started cutting, and my thoughts went down from there. I was suicidal and came up with a plan.
My phone rang.
My sister, who had been traveling the country, called me around 3 a.m. to tell me she was going to stay with our parents until things calmed down.
The next morning, I packed my things and went home.
Now, my parents live in the bumfuck middle-of-nowhere Mississippi. We have two dogs, four horses, cows, a full vegetable garden and about 40 acres of land. It is really the perfect place to be in an apocalyptic scenario.
When I first pulled down their long driveway, the dogs barked and ran after my car, the horses nodded their heads at me as I drove past and when I pulled up to the house, both my parents and my two sisters ran out to give me a hug and welcome me home.
My family has always been my biggest supporter and number one confidant. When I got home, I finally opened up to them about what I had been going through, and they encouraged me to seek out counseling.
And I did.
I started having weekly visits with a counselor. On top of that, I had people to talk to and things to do. My little sister woke me up every morning to ask if I would go play with her. My older sister forced me to start working out with her. My mom cooked for me and made me coffee every morning.
I started reading again. I picked playing piano back up. I wrote. I hiked. I got into boxing. I practiced my French. I started to accept that I can’t control everything. I was able to sleep at night. I laughed. And slowly, over the past few months, I healed.
I let go of so many fears, insecurities and grudges that I had held onto for years. The world fell apart because of Covid-19, and, although I fell with it at first, I had government-mandated time away from everything and had no choice other than to focus on myself.
Am I grateful for Covid-19? Of course not. I am not oblivious to the fact that it is a deadly pandemic that has caused thousands of deaths and an economic crisis. I wish that this wouldn’t have happened. I wish the world could go back to normal.
But would I even be here without this deadly virus?
I try not to let myself go there. I try to focus on the positives and moving forward. But I cannot deny that if this pandemic hadn’t come when it did, seemingly out of nowhere, then I would not be writing this.
I know that the world is still on fire. I know that this may just be the beginning of a series of world-changing and life-altering events. But now I have a life that can be changed.
Now I look toward the future, not with fear of what disasters may lie ahead, but with joy that even amidst the chaos, I can be happier than I have ever known before.