Life in Lockdown at 14

According to the Guardian, new research shows that young people have suffered more with mental health issues over the past few months than any other age group.

We invited one young person to write about their experience through lockdown and the impact it had on them. Below is a raw expression of a 14 year old’s experience, which provides a valuable insight into why we really must ensure our young people are aware of the resources available to them now more than ever.

My experiences during the COVID-19 lockdown have felt strange to say the least.  I am 14 years old so let's start with that. My life was, and is, only just starting, and then the world got shut down. I've been unable to go to school, see my friends, go out, go on buses and do many normal teenage things. It's hard to describe the feeling when your entire life just stops. For the adults who are reading this to try and understand the pandemic’s impact on younger teens, I'll sum it up like this…

I've spent 5 months going through the dystopic motions of my own teen angst but without anyone the same age around me to relate to and make me realise that my emotions are in fact very common. The thing is, this has made the bad days disproportionately lonely. 

Of course, I've had my family around me - I have 2 younger siblings who are alright but at the ages where they're going through their own stuff. I'm also quite fortunate that I get along well with my parents unlike a lot of teens my age, but things really aren't right when you can't see your friends every day. During lockdown I'd been texting and snapping (snap chat) my friends but it wasn't the same. 

I know that my friends have also been hit by it too. A few of my friends had dabbled in self harm over the lockdown. It's obviously not a pleasant thing to receive news of, and even worse to get over the phone when you aren't personally there to help them. Personally I don't understand it but I've tried to help them. For one friend in particular, we got in touch with the school but with another the school had broken up and so I struggled on what to do. After speaking to my mum, I recommended a few websites they could go to. It was really hard and I felt really stuck on how I could help them.

Everything's just very emotionally fragile when you’re between 12 and 15, because you're discovering yourself. You want to do all these things that you're not old enough to do yet, but you try to do it anyway, your friend groups are constantly changing, everyone is so fake towards each other and nothing is permanent so you just keep moving. However, due to COVID everything stopped, so the fact that the younger teens who keep moving through their formative years have had to stop and deal with things in isolation has been really tough. It’s been a philosophical time, a time in which we have all been alone with our thoughts and that can, and often has, impacted on everyone's mental health. 

At times things have been so lonely but COVID and lockdown will end at some point and I really love the idea of After the Storm and being able to get help for people who need it. So unlike my situation with my friends’ self-harm they won't struggle because they will now know what to do and where to get help.

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