By Callum Woodward
In 2017 I began studying a Drama and Creative Writing Undergraduate Degree in Liverpool. For the most part, my university experience was incredibly social, active and fulfilling. The Drama side was incredibly involved; I worked a lot with other people in all kinds of different venues and I studied various aspects of theatre. The Creative Writing side saw me collaborating with my peers in various workshop settings. I would receive ‘in-person’ feedback on my work and I would give similar feedback to others on my course. And then Lockdown happened.
From then onwards, I had to finish my third year away from campus. This meant that I had no proper contact with my peers at that point. I had a forty-five-page script to write, as well as an 8,000-word dissertation to complete. Final year at university is already stressful, now add a horrible feeling of isolation on top of that. There was the anxiety of the uncertainty of what was going to happen. There were multiple occasions where I just wanted to meet my lecturers and peers ‘in-person’. It’s nice enough to speak via Zoom, but you definitely miss that human presence – especially when I had made a really good connection with my peers and lecturers over the previous three years.
This made me feel so lonely, as if I were missing out on a huge element of my university experience. When I finally submitted my final pieces of work, all I wanted to do was go out for a drink with my classmates to celebrate having finished our degrees. But, at that point, the effect on my mental health was so clearly negative that I just had a takeaway and went to bed early. This was not the ideal celebration of finishing my degree that I had wished for.
At least I had two and a half years learning on-campus. A friend of mine, Megan, who started at University this year, has been working remotely from Day 1. She had to be locked in her halls of residence for weeks due to an outbreak of COVID-19 there. I spoke to her about her experience.
She told me that it felt strange, that she was essentially trapped in a flat with a group of complete strangers. She felt it had a horrible impact on her mental health and because they weren’t allowed to leave, Megan felt even worse. She was not allowed to see family, or even come down to the reception to see friends at a safe, social distance. On top of this, the flat itself was filthy; untidy surroundings only adding to her poor mental health. She mentioned a lack of sleep to me, saying that other students within the building were having flat parties, which kept her awake well into the small hours. Sleep deprivation makes us feel rubbish at the best of times, let alone during all of this.
In the next blog, I will be writing about how to deal with the lockdown and looking at the positive steps that we can all take to help us to deal with the situation.
Here at The Lighthouse Counselling Partnership (TLCP) we understand how difficult isolation, depression and anxiety can be in times of Covid 19. It is our aim to help people through this difficult situation to re-engage with their lives. If you are struggling to cope with university life in lockdown please contact our friendly counsellors today