The Coronavirus Pandemic: Hayley’s Story:
About the Author:
“My name is Hayley, I am 19 years old, and I am currently a sophomore at the university of central Florida. In 2019, I graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school. I am currently an intern at Different Brains while also working on getting my bachelors degree in health sciences.”
College Life Before the Pandemic:
Q: Describe your everyday life before the pandemic hit. Include aspects of your life such as work, school, extracurricular activities, and other social aspects.
A: I was a student at UCF (University of Central Florida) in Orlando, so I was living over there and it was my first year. I was taking five classes: humanities, intro to film, computer fundamentals for business, and English 2, and I was getting more involved with medical associations and things like that. I was also in a sorority [which was fun], so I was doing a lot of stuff for that, such as bid day, socials, and fundraisers, but mainly, it was just spending time with my roommates and my friends that I made at UCF before all of this…I was taking fifteen credit hours, so I had a lot of schoolwork.
Trouble in Paradise:
Q: Describe how you initially reacted to COVID-19 and the social distancing.
A: Immediately, I didn’t wanna believe it. When everything started happening, my family was away in Costa Rica and there were only a few cases at the time. So, it wasn’t a big thing, and all of a sudden, when we left, people really started to take it seriously. I was kind of in shock about everything, and then school closed while we were there. They announced all this stuff, and I was in disbelief. Initially, they said it would only be like two weeks, so I was like, “Okay, we’ll be back in two weeks”, so that’s kind of what I was thinking.
Coming Back Home:
Q: In what ways did your life and schedule change as a result of the coronavirus?
A: Now I’m living back home in South Florida. I was living on my own in Orlando, so now it’s interesting: I’m back home with my parents, and it’s just a big change from before. Now all my classes are online, where, before, I would have to go to lectures, sit in, and listen to all that.
I have a lot more free time now because I can’t really go out and do things, so I’m spending more time with my family and doing more things like that than I used to. So, that’s kind of nice.
Making the Best Out of Current Situations:
Q: What have you had to do in order to adapt to these circumstances?
A: Honestly, it took a while for my head to wrap around all of it and I think, mainly, the one thing that’s made me get used to all of this is spending more time with my family and also looking at the positives because there’s so much negative news and stuff. When I start thinking of all the good things I have and that I’m healthy, that’s what helps me remember: “Okay, I know that this is a big change in my life and I’m not in Orlando anymore, and I’m supposed to be, and all that” but when I think about how much worse it could be, that kind of helps me ground myself a little bit.
Q: If you are neurodiverse, how has this pandemic affected your conditions or vice versa?
A: I have PTSD. I went through a school shooting and it was in Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD). So, coming back home to Parkland has been a little bit harder, and I think when I was in Orlando, I could didn’t have to think about it because I wasn’t around people I knew, or by [bad] memories… and now being back here, it’s been harder, but I think I’ve been adapting to it more now than I was in the beginning.
Self-Care & Working Out:
Q: What other coping mechanisms are you using to deal with these strange times?
A: I’ve been trying to do a lot of self-care: taking baths, or doing face masks, or just taking time out of my day to not be on my phone or watching the news, and just kind of pause to make sure my brain is clear for a minute. All the news and negativity and stuff can be a lot to handle; taking time to just breathe for a second.
Also, me and my sister have been doing these YouTube video workouts, and that’s kind of helped, because I kind of look forward to doing those every day.
Not Taking Friendships for Granted:
Q: What have you learned about yourself and the world around you from these circumstances?
A: I think I’ve realized how much I take things for granted and my friendships. Sometimes, I don’t take advantage of going out with people when they ask me to, or I just want to stay at home more, because I’m kind of like a homebody: I like hanging out at home. I’m not a huge going-out person and stuff, so it made me realize how much more I should appreciate that and take the opportunities to go out and make more memories with people. Even if I have anxiety or I’m depressed about something, I should push myself to go out a little more because I literally can’t go out right now, and I’m losing my mind.
Q: What are all the things that have been going on in your mind in terms of trying to comprehend what’s going on right now?
A: I’ve gotten used to being here. I’m making the best out of it, but the things that are going on in my head right now are the not knowing, like not knowing when school’s going to reopen, or when places are going to reopen, and even if they do, are they safe to go to. It’s a lot… It’s a lot.
Taking Time For Yourself & Taking Back Control:
Q: What advice would you give to someone like yourself who is going through these same situations?
A: The advice I would give is to make sure you take enough time for yourself. I think in the beginning of all of this, I just spent so much time watching the news and not focusing on myself and my own well-being, and now that I am, I’m taking this time to do things that I would have never done, like cleaning out the garage, and self-reflect.
Take this opportunity to make the best of it because we don’t really have much control over it, so there’s really no point in just sitting around and being sad about it. We might as well make the best out of it.
Story by: Hayley
Transcribed by: Julia Futo
Interviewed on: May 12th, 2020
Julia Futo was born on August 5th, 1999, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She faced difficulties early on in life with trying to perform everyday tasks. Before she was five years old, she was diagnosed with two learning disabilities: Encephalopathy and developmental coordination disorder (DCD). She struggled in school for a long time, but that changed when she took journalism in high school and learned how to become an advocate. She is currently in college and hopes to help others find their voices.