COVID-19 Dispatch Part 2: The mental toll of total isolation in New Jersey



Sophomore Emily Johnston stares longingly out the window of her New Jersey home, Mar. 31.

Emily Johnston, Opinion columnist

Being alone for extended periods of time sounds like an introvert’s dream, but in actuality, it can be bad for one’s mental health.

A quiet life is often depicted as nice, but being confined to one house five hours away from my University and my life indefinitely is taking a toll on me.

I hail from N.J. in a small town near New York City which is a hotspot for COVID-19, the virus that is causing the world to go on shut-down.

Life in New Jersey in the suburbs of New York City is usually relatively quiet, but now in wake of restrictions placed on the entire state by Governor Phil Murphy, life is much quieter. Those restrictions include an 8 p.m. curfew and no gatherings over 50 people.

Currently, only essential businesses are open. These are grocery stores and farmers markets, pharmacies, gas stations, banks, pet stores, liquor stores, mail and delivery stores and other essential stores, according to the New Jersey Government website.

No one is allowed to leave unless they are traveling to one of these businesses, going to work, seeking medical attention, visiting family and friends or engaging in outdoor activities, according to the New Jersey Government website.

Apparently other people in the state of New Jersey are also feeling tense; a man was charged with terrorism after coughng on a Wegman’s clerk and saying he had coronavirus, according to a March 25 NPR article.

Now that sounds like Florida, not New Jersey.This virus is pushing lots of people to new extremes.

The tension is high, as each day the news gets worse and it takes effort to adjust to an online life.

As much as I know this is for the greater good. Being stuck in one place and constantly having my eyes glued to a TV screen flashing new cases every minute, is making it worse. 

We are in an epidemic, and as a 20-year-old who has not lived much of my life, this is terrifying.

The UVM Center for Health and Wellbeing has uploaded a page about updates to coronavirus saying there are no walk-in appointments, and that students who are away from campus should contact Student Health Services to reach out to their providers.

All CAPS services have shifted to over-the-telephone and all group sessions are cancelled until further notice.

As face-to-face contact is nearly impossible due to COVID-19, I understand the steps CAPs took, however I wish there were more options for students who just now want to talk to someone about the crisis.

A service for students struggling to cope with COVID-19 or at least a list of tips would help many UVM students during this time.

In the meantime, please reach out to friends in areas highly affected by the virus and do not be afraid to be afraid.

Hopefully, if we all listen to medical professionals and our governments, this will be over in a couple of months.