‘Anxiety, Homophobia, Stress’: Students on Mental Health Concerns During Lockdown

The outbreak of COVID-19 has led to schools, universities being shut till March 31, 2020. As the number of cases spike with every passing day, some predict that the shutdown might continue well into April and May.

Living the quarantine is harder for some than others, especially for people living in abusive households as well as those struggling with mental health and eating disorders.

“My best friend and boyfriend died last month, I have been dealing with overwhelming grief since then. To get through it, I was keeping myself busy and surrounding myself with people. With the quarantine, that has become really difficult. It’s not the best time to be alone with my thoughts. Even going to my therapist and psychiatrist is a huge task. The paranoia of going out adds to the dilemma of what to do right now,” says Pooja Sreenivasan, an artist and a student at St. Joseph’s College of Arts and Science, Bangalore.

Some students, who don’t identify with the gender binaries, feel trapped while being at home.

“The homophobia at home is suffocating,” says a law student who didn’t want to be names. “While I’m on campus, I can speak, gesture and behave in a manner which may be stereotypically associated with being gay. At home, I need to ‘act straight’. Even a little slip up brings forth a barrage of uncomfortable questions from my mother.”

Also read: ‘You are Coronavirus’: Students From Northeast India Face Bigotry Over Pandemic

Similarly, a writer, who also didn’t wish to be named, talks about their gender dysphoria and how the lockdown has taken a toll on their mental health.

“This quarantine reminds me of my depressive spiral from years ago where I wouldn’t go out. I was now used to socialising with my friends, and staying locked up with my parents is getting really stressful and difficult. I have gender dysphoria. Not being able to wear the clothes that make me feel good, or my binder, is impacting my mental health,” says the writer, who identifies as non-binary.

“It was difficult in the beginning. I felt low and all I wanted was to be able to go out freely. A lot of fights in the household made the situation worse. I am coping with diverting my mind to other activities. But it’s still suffocating to stay inside all day,” says Anagha, a student from Delhi University.

Achirabh Saikia, a student at Indraprastha University, is also finding it hard to stay at home. He spoke of pre-lockdown days when he’d rehearse with his dance team. “As an artist, I felt at home with my team. We’d spend hours practicing together and performing at events. Suddenly, being forced to stay at home and away from the people I love is hard. It’s been tough to take, and it’s been mentally draining,” says Achirabh Saikia, a student at Indraprastha University.

“The lifestyle you’re expected to follow in these times is pretty much my lifestyle on a regular basis. What makes me anxious is seeing people be careless during these times and taking restrictions lightly. It scares me that due to their carelessness, others could be forced to pay the price,” says Vishrutha, a student at Mount Carmel College, Bangalore.