This post deals with mental health issues and self-harm and might be triggering for some readers.
I moved to Melbourne in February 2019 for my Master's degree at the University of Melbourne.
At 22 years old, this felt like an incredible achievement.
My dream of living in a foreign country and studying at a globally ranked university was coming true. I wanted to challenge myself at university, meet people from all over the world, and immerse myself in Australian culture.
No one imagined that in a year’s time we’d all be locked down in our homes.
Watch: Things You Never Say In 2021. Post continues below.
At first, university shifted online “temporarily” and as I had just moved in with my current partner, it made sense for me to stay here and continue on with my degree.
Online university was, however, quite challenging. Student interaction was at an all-time low, lecturers were struggling with student engagement and their own mental health, and no one had any answers.
As an international student, I had no friends or family in Australia.
Lockdowns took away opportunities I would otherwise have had to go out and build these relationships. My partner was the only person I could talk to and he became my only source of learning about Australia.
There were moments when things were really bleak. My friends spoke about their struggles with mental health often and thoughts of self-harm. My family and I realised we would be separated for an indefinite amount of time. I became anxious about graduating in the middle of a pandemic and trying to build a life as an expat from my bedroom.
Even now, I feel sad knowing that almost two years into the pandemic things aren’t very different.
I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that my family will miss out on a lot of big events in my life and vice versa, I may never see my grandparents again and unfortunately, besides getting vaccinated and following rules, there isn’t much else that I can do.
It is easy to feel a loss of self and nihilistic at such a time. There were, and still are, days when I feel completely overwhelmed. I know that I am not alone in that.
As a person of South Asian descent, I found it very challenging to discuss my mental health and ask for help; this is often stigmatised in our community.
I realised that I needed help when I had more bad days than good. I became tired of feeling sad and angry.
The first step to recovery was opening up and starting a chat. I spoke to my partner about how I had been feeling, which in turn allowed him to open up to me as well.