Content warning: death, illness
A lot of immigrants like myself live with a constant pit in our stomach every single day. I am grateful to be in a country where things are getting back to normal. I am healthy and have a stable job.
However, I would be lying if I said that pictures of families uniting after months didn’t sometimes send a wave of grief through my body. My family and friends are in India, and I am sure you are aware about the horrific COVID-19 second wave that has left the country and citizens in shambles. I wake up to pictures of mass cremations and friends pleading for plasma and oxygen cylinders on Facebook to support family members that are in critical condition – there is a shortage of beds in hospitals too.
In the last couple of weeks, I have known so many people close to me and acquaintances that have passed away, some of them were just 30. I unfollowed every news channel/media house that is constantly making me feel like I am living in an apocalypse. I also make a conscious effort to build boundaries with friends and family to ensure that we are not constantly talking about COVID-19.
My own father tested positive yesterday and it will be an understatement to say that I am completely numb and broken. I haven’t seen my family in 2 years and every day that hope of being reunited with them seems like a far-fetched dream.
I was in my final semester of my master’s degree when COVID-19 first hit Australia. I would have never imagined in my wildest dreams that I will be watching my grandfather’s funeral on a Whatsapp video call – he was my anchor and I have felt lost without him ever since.
As an international student, you are riddled with fear about your visa status, exams, assignments and job security. I can’t even tell you the number of times I had to apply for special considerations because I was so stressed and numb. The isolation and uncertainty of not knowing what happens next is something I would not wish upon my worst enemy.
I encourage international students to reach out for support – you don’t have to fight this battle alone. I wish I had someone who could just empathise with me and sit beside me in this uncertainty. I hope eFriend can give you a warm hug to remind you that whilst we don’t know what the future holds, this too shall pass. It’s important that we keep our cups full to be able to support our families back home – whatever is in our capacity; until we meet again.
This piece was written by one of the ICLA eFriend Peer Support Workers. eFriend is an online platform where you can connect with a trained peer support worker whom has their own lived experience of feeling lonely, isolated, stressed or worried. You can speak to your eFriend Peer via video or phone call. Your eFriend Peer will listen, validate and provide hope. If you like, they can also assist you to identify any other services you may like to try or help you create plans to improve your personal well-being. Or they can simply listen.