TALES FROM HUMBER: In-person classes have improved my mental health

Nov 12, 2021 | Et Cetera, OP-ED, Tales From Humber

Growing up, I was a happy, upbeat person who wanted to be friends with everyone.

Starting high school, I was excited to meet new people. But I soon learned that not everyone is going to like you.

I was bullied throughout most of high school for my appearance, my clothing and assumptions about my sexual orientation. I never understood why people treated me that way.

I can still remember walking down the grey-toned hallways, seeing people look at me with disdain, hearing them laugh at me, the homophobic slurs echoing down the corridor.

What shocked me almost as much as the abuse were the people who stood there in silence, who watched this happen to me and didn’t say a word.

I felt like I couldn’t be myself. I created a wall around me to hide my emotions. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety.

I felt like everyone thought negatively of me, just because some kids at school didn’t like who I was or how I expressed myself. I had a small, close group of friends who helped me. But even with their support, I couldn’t see my potential in life.

Once, I loved to paint, draw, write stories. But I started to fall away from my hobbies. And by the end of high school, my mental health was a mess.

I didn’t want to go outside, or even leave my room. I took a year off school before college to settle down and get better. I made the decision to seek help and started seeing a therapist.

My therapist suggested I write my thoughts out in a notebook, whether it was about my problems or things I was passionate about. It felt like a release, an escape, and my mental health grew slightly better because I was able to get it out.

Through the process, I discovered I was passionate about was writing.

I decided to pursue a career in journalism. I want to be able to write about issues I believe are important in society. And journalism would allow me to do that.

When I applied for the journalism program at Humber College, I was so excited to have a fresh start, meet new people and not be judged.

When the pandemic hit, and college programs reverted to online education, I felt like it was what I needed following my negative experiences in high school. However, I found it harder than I initially expected.

Sitting in an empty bedroom, staring at a screen, watching my professor teach, I felt like I couldn’t fully grasp the course material as I would in a classroom. And I found myself missing the connections that came with being in person.

My mental health started to deteriorate and I didn’t have the work ethic I would have with in-person classes.

With this year having the majority of my classes in person, I feel much more uplifted. Although I still stress over assignments, it is just normal college student problems. And I had a routine.

Getting ready for classes and being able to sit in the classroom was something I needed. I felt so much more engaged in the learning material. I was finally able to meet my peers in person rather than seeing them through a screen.

I became close friends with people in my program who support me for being myself, as well as plenty of others at Humber. I realized these people are here for the same reason as me.

To write. Truthfully. And without fear.