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“I’m just staring at the ceiling, wishing I would stop thinking”

“I’m just staring at the ceiling, wishing I would stop thinking”

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Archive Maja Niekrasz

These are very difficult days for Maja Niekrasz, first-year student of European Law. “I have struggled with depression and anxiety all my life. I tend to overthink everything. I got help a couple of years ago and I’ve made a lot of progress since then, but right now I feel like I’ve moved back a few steps.”

Her brain is working overtime. “I keep thinking ‘what if’. What if this crisis will never be over? What if my grandparents get the virus and die? What if I somehow have undiagnosed asthma? Rationally, I know it’s impossible. I don’t have asthma and my grandparents have been safe in their house since the beginning of March. But I can’t stop my thoughts from going round and round.”

The loneliness she is experiencing at the moment doesn’t help her mental health either. “I live alone in a flat. All my friends have left Maastricht and I can’t go back to Poland because the country is in a total lockdown. I’m sad I’m stuck here.” Some days, she is unable to get out of bed. “I’m just staring at the ceiling, wishing I would stop thinking.” It takes up all of her energy: she doesn’t have time to study, she says.

Taking a walk or going for a run could ease her mind, but Niekrasz doesn’t go out. “I’m too afraid to catch the virus. I order groceries online.” She speaks with Maastricht University’s psychologists once a week. “It really helps, but they are fully booked.” Niekrasz hasn’t discussed her situation with any of her friends “because I don’t think my problems are significant enough. I have Italian friends whose family members are sick or even dying. I do realise that my friends probably want to help me and talk to me, but my heart tells me otherwise.” 

To relax, she watches films she liked when she was a child. “Toy Story for example gives me comfort. Other than that, I try not to watch the news too often. I watch it once every two days. Seeing that people are being so nice to each other gives me positive energy. I look forward to the moment when we can all get together again. That will be heartwarming.”

What are these corona-days like for students? How does it affect their studies and other parts of their life? Observant speaks to one of them every day to give an idea about the virus' impact.

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