The Brooklyn College Vanguard

COVID-19 and a Mournful Student

Written By: Carlos Daniel Martrinez 

Carlos Daniel Martinez, author of “COVID-19 and a Mournful Student”./Carlos Daniel Martinez

In some of our minds, the boat is now sinking and we’d like to give up. For others, maybe we could hop on another boat in the meantime and when that one sinks, we’d figure out a way to hop onto the next. When I lost my job, I hopped on another vessel. When I was unable to see my friends again and celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and other milestones, I hopped on another and spent time with them online. For me, I was already in peril the year before. I went through a breakup with a girl, I almost lost a best friend from suicide, a good friend of mine lost his mother, and I was flunking out a lot so I contemplated about dropping out of Brooklyn College for good.

   However, nothing could prepare me when I lost two relatives in a span of two months, one who unfortunately died from a recurring illness, and died all alone in his home with no one to help him. Then — perhaps what hit me most — my grandfather, who died from COVID-19 complications. It rocked my whole family and we became more divided than we already were. His death made everyone more distressed, and it got so bad that we couldn’t do much to help one another, especially in far distances.

   Unable to comfort anyone at that moment, let alone myself, I spent moments in the dark with my own thoughts. It wasn’t a pleasant time handling everything by myself, and I was already going through my own bouts of anxiety and panic attacks. My family and friends were of little help to me at that point.

   I still had to prepare for the fall semester while also going through a time of being unemployed for who knew how long. Whether I liked it or not, I still had to get on with my life. The ship was sinking and I stood there with my knees in the water. It was hard to jump on another ship at that time — it still is — but I hopped on another floating device.

   Some days, I’d remember the night earlier in the year when my best friend almost killed himself. I told myself that I should never allow that to happen to him again — and that I need to be a better listener whenever he has a problem. I want to look at his own struggle as something to remind me that he’s still alive and so am I, while also acknowledging that what he went through was brave. I’m still figuring it out myself. It’s vague and blurry in my head, but somewhere in it there’s got to be a positive message behind all that shared pain.

   Right now, many college students probably still don’t feel like speaking about their innermost pain and sorrow. They still feel like they’re not ready to talk yet, which is fine because everyone is on a different time flow. While for some, help can come in weeks, for others it takes months—or even years—to seek out help. I’m not the best person for advice, but what I could say is that it’s fine for anyone who is currently studying this semester to not say anything. Feelings are still fresh, the year hasn’t ended, we still cannot get a moment to relax while the country is going through both a deadly virus, racial injustice, and even the threat of more severe global climate change. 

   Maybe you’ve lost someone yourself. Maybe you know someone who did. Or maybe you feel like no matter where you are, the world isn’t a safe place to be living in. All I can tell you is whatever you’re feeling, you’re stronger than that. And that it’s okay to not search out for help at this minute. Take your time. Don’t rush things just because classes have begun and you feel like forcing your emotions to the side. Because sooner or later, you’re going to come to grips with what you’re feeling anyway. Let go of that pain. And then whenever the time is right for you, talk to someone. Anyone you feel you can trust well, and just let go of everything you’ve been holding on since the start. Let your pain be your newfound strength that you never thought you had in you from the start. Believe in yourself, and never let anyone tell you otherwise. Let this year be your year of empowerment.

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