Online School Takes Toll

One staffer shares how their experience with mental health is impacting their education.

Katie Keller, Staff

Mental health has been something I’ve struggled with for a decent chunk of my life. 

Since I was diagnosed with clinical depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, I have never felt my mental health slip as much as it has in the past six months since the lockdown first began. Not only have I felt less upbeat than usual, I’ve felt my stress and anxiety take a physical toll on my body. 

When the lockdown first started, like every other kid, I was excited.  

When they said, “lockdown to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus,” I heard “prolonged spring break.” How wrong I was.  

Online school seemed like a good idea when it was first mentioned. I didn’t have to be up at the crack of dawn anymore to catch the bus. I could cuddle with my dogs all day. I could wear my favorite pajamas or my favorite pair of yoga pants to school and not get dress coded. I could go to school in my bed.  

Why didn’t we try this earlier? 

The reality of online school was very different than what I was picturing. It sucked. It took what I had called school for the past 12-ish years since I started preschool and flipped it like a pancake. My grades plummeted, and the stress to get them back up again when I was already struggling from a lack of human contact increased exponentially. There were more than a few occasions when I was ready to give up. I just didn’t feel like myself anymore. 

Summer break came and went, monotonous as ever. Evidently, Armageddon was upon us and I couldn’t exactly go to the movies or hang out at the mall with my best friends. I thought that maybe I’d feel a little bit more like myself when school started again. 

I was wrong. 

Just like last year, the stress of it all got to me quickly. As someone who is very easily distracted, learning from home isn’t working for me. Not having the physical proximity to other people took its toll early on and the added stress to succeed this year hasn’t helped. Sometimes when I need to have a relaxing bubble bath and sip some rose tea and clear my head, the English paper I spaced about and forgot to write is looming over me and stressing me out even more.  

Instead of my calm bubble bath and herbal tea, I spend my night sitting in front of my computer and wake up the next morning a total sourpuss with keyboard forehead because I got little to no good sleep.

It feels like everything’s going so fast and like I’ll never be able to catch up.”

I’m one of the biggest extroverts I know. Seeing my friends in classes and not being able to high-five them or roast them for wearing that outfit is tantalizing.  

It shouldn’t seem like it, but I never feel more isolated than when I’m in “class.” Part of me knows the district is trying to keep things as normal as possible, but as someone with sensitive ears, I never had an earache from always having my earbuds in back when school was in person.  

Everything I used to take for granted is becoming more of a chore.  

Over the past two months, give or take, I’ve fallen into the daily rhythm of getting to class on time, but paying attention is much harder when the classroom is an 11.6-inch screen 

When I know the teacher is watching and when I’m able to talk to others and explain what I’m thinking, I didn’t realize how much I’d miss it until it was taken away from me. The hands-on learning and in-person discussions were something I used to take for granted.  

School was annoying, but I felt like a much better student then. Sure, I was stressed out, but at least I could keep my school life away from my home life.  

Now that my school life and home life are one and the same, it feels foreign. When I have something going on at home, the chances of me bringing it to school skyrocket. When I have something going on with school, I can’t go back to my home life until I take care of whatever’s going on with school. Some days, it feels like school is just taking over my life. My mom’s a teacher who’s always working and is always on my back about my grades being perfectIt could be 8:30 in the evening and I want to take a shower, maybe watch an episode of anime or something, but instead, I’d be back in front of my computer, forced to work on something I don’t understand.  

It feels like everything’s going so fast and like I’ll never be able to catch up.

In time, maybe I will.  

But asking for help is still a possibility. Online school makes it a million times harder and my pride makes it hard enough to ask for help. There are still people in my life I can go to when I’m about to make a bad choice or when I don’t understand something.  

Being a part of history sucks. Calls to crisis hotlines are going up. Suicide rates and addictions are on the rise. Yeah, it’d be easier if the virus didn’t come and people didn’t go around acting like the sky is falling, but it’s not the fact that the virus got out and took the planet off its axis that makes what we’re living through so historic. 

It’s that we’re coming back stronger than before that makes this noteworthy.