March 11. The first day that set off a chain reaction of events at Las Positas College.
I remember being in my friend Sally’s car, on our way to the campus. It was a Wednesday, and I was in the passenger seat watching the hills roll by while listening to alternative pop music streaming from my daily Spotify playlist. This particular playlist had an abundance of songs from Lorde. We had heard rumors about the COVID-19 sickness spreading throughout the world, but we weren’t prepared for what was about to happen.
Suddenly at 12:09, the music cut out and the blaring text message alert screamed through the car speakers.
Grabbing my phone, I was surprised to see a message that said:
“In the best interest of the Chabot-Las Positas Community College District– our faculty, our classified professionals, our students, and our community –we have decided to temporarily suspend in-person classes on Thursday, March 12; Friday, March 13; and Saturday, March 14, 2020. Classes will resume on Monday, March 16, 2020 using either online education or limited in-person participation classes.”
Whoa. That was unexpected.
This year had started off as an amazing year for me, and here it was suddenly crumbling before my eyes. I started becoming more open to others, building relationships with new people and hanging out with my friends more. This was so different from my 19 year track record of being the shy, awkward and closed-off person most people know me as. I started being … happy.
Besides growing into myself, I also had a year of fun planned ahead for myself and my friends and family. Two Disneyland trips, one for April with my family and one for June with my friends. When booking the airline tickets for June last year, I remember thinking, “Nah, I don’t need airline ticket insurance. What could possibly happen where I wouldn’t go?”
Just my luck, I jinxed myself and apparently the whole world.
I had also planned to attend the Journalism Association of Community Colleges convention, which would have been a three-day gathering in Burbank with my fellow journalism enthusiasts. This was going to be a special trip because I had missed the first convention in my freshman year at LPC.
Additionally, spring 2020 was supposed to be my last on-campus semester. Come summer I was going to move up to my mom’s house in Sacramento, finish up one more online class and then transfer to Sacramento State University.
When classes were officially switched to online mediums indefinitely, I had a lot of hope that the COVID-19 situation would blow over fast in the beginning. But after watching the news and reading the updates from the district chancellor, my hope slowly but steadily ran out.
I started to feel hopeless and sad. I wasn’t a stranger to this type of sadness. I had felt it chronically for a large part of my life.
But being trapped in my house for days upon days and suddenly being cut off from seeing my friends who I’ve hung out with nearly every day made it all the worse.
But at least I had a family to lean back on, right? Well, yes and no. All of my immediate family lives up in Sacramento currently, while I am here in Livermore finishing up school. I can always call my mom and dad if I feel down, but it doesn’t compare to seeing and feeling their support in person.
Upon that, I have to delay my move due to my mom being high-risk. While there was a slim chance I was carrying the virus, we didn’t want to take any risks. Because of this, transferring to SSU would also have to wait until the sickness blew over.
So here I am now, having been in quarantine for a month, and will continue to be for another month. Homework assignments eat up most of my day, and by the time I am done, the sun has gone down and it is time to sleep. Here and there I’m able to enjoy quick matches of League of Legends or sessions of Animal Crossing that spark temporary joy.
Some days are better than others. I’ve found small things that keep me sane and add a sense of normalcy into my day: making up my bed, cooking and putting on makeup even though I have nowhere to go. But sometimes I have to push myself to even do that. I encourage those who are in similar mental states to try to find something that puts some regularity into the day. That could be taking a walk, tidying up your room or calling a friend.
When you’re depressed, everyone always tells you that you’re not alone. And it’s true. It’s just hard to see when you’re feeling like Rapunzel, stuck in a tower.
According to a survey done by the American Psychological Association, 36.4% of students noted that they felt depressed and 40% of students reported that they had mild mental health concerns while attending college before the pandemic. Researchers collected this data from over 400 colleges and universities.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for a student to experience depression or anxiety during their academic career. Add quarantine into the mix and you have a recipe for disaster.
Finishing this semester will continue to be a challenge for me, as it is for many students in the United States right now. I look forward to when we are free to roam and can enjoy one another again.
For those who are dealing with depression during this shelter in place, visit the National Network of Depression Centers website for a list of resources and contacts. LPC is also here to help. Students who are in need of support can view the Student Health & Wellness Services tab on the college’s website for more information.
Rebecca Robison is the news and campus life editor of The Express. Follow her @RebeccaRobiso19.