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The impact of COVID-19 on young people – Abbie’s story

Reading’s mental health charity for children and young people, No5, recently produced a report that examines the impact of COVID-19 from a ground up perspective. In our second extract from the report, Abbie, a No5 Young Ambassador, tells her experience of the pandemic in her own words.

No5 Reading Abbie

My personal experience has been a bit of a rollercoaster. I started feeling quite calm about COVID-19 and the process of going into lockdown due to my dad's role at work as well as maybe the lack of information and research that had been done at that current time. On the day we went into lockdown I felt kind of prepared, I expected it to happen that week, so I said goodbye to my work friends and emptied my locker just in case. I feel that having this closure helped me at the start. A few weeks in was when this positive and calm outlook started to fade, and I felt the anxiety and loneliness sink in. Friends started becoming more distant too, due to them starting to feel this way as well as us lacking topics to talk about and activities to do remotely.

What made these feelings harder was not having my support network around me of my friends but also my dad. Even though I am now 20, I still stick to the custody schedule my parents have with my sister and I as I still live at home and quite enjoy it. Before lockdown, we made the decision to stay at my mum's house until further notice as my dad was working in a high-risk area and wanted to keep us safe. Due to being over 18, it meant I was not allowed to see him unlike those under the age of 18. This was also a big challenge for me as I went from seeing him every other day to not knowing when I was going to see him again. Amidst all this I also had a feeling of being lost, I work in hospitality so working from home was not possible and unlike some of my friends who go to uni, I had no studying to take part in. I genuinely felt like I had no purpose. 

I then took a step back and looked at where I was, how I was feeling and why. I then wanted to make some improvements, I had been in the dark and anxious mindset before and didn't want to stay there again. 

No5 Reading Abbie

I created some new purposes to keep my mind active and to give me a reason to wake up in the morning. This gave me things to aim for and also to evaluate where I want to be in the future. Not long after, things started to ease, I was able to see my dad again after 2 months, I returned to work halfway through May, and was allowed to see friends and other family at a distance. 

However, with the return to work and as more things started to re-open, I felt more anxious about doing simple things like getting petrol, popping into the shop, etc. Even now I am still struggling to work through these social anxieties and sometimes feel disappointed in myself due to having worked hard to get through these barriers in the past. 

From reading multiple reports of the impact COVID-19, etc, has had on young people, I feel that they mostly match up to my experiences. However, I do feel they are lacking the view from those who are over 18 who didn’t decide to go to uni and those with divorced parents who haven't been able to see the other. I feel that for those like me, there is a gap as we may not receive the support our peers may receive, and I am uncertain about any advances within my career in the next few years. I was looking at changing industries to do something I am passionate about; however, it seems safer to stay where I am.

Read the full report here