VOICES OF LEWISHAM

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TIARA

Tiara Griffith, 22, is in her final year at university, studying Music Production and Technology. She lives on her own in Sydenham. During the first lockdown she overcame feelings of isolation and confusion by making music, drawing portraits and getting into fitness – activities she’d learnt had given her a sense of peace as a teenager.

“When I was 16 I visited Baseline in Lewisham for guidance on how to get into college – and then later for assistance on applying to university as I didn’t have the qualifications to get in.

“Baseline offer support to young people that need information on education and employment. The help they gave me has changed my life. I’ve always struggled with social anxiety and depression, and they helped me with my mental health by providing options I never knew existed.

“I have kind of adjusted to the idea of the pandemic, but at the beginning it was really, really confusing as I could feel there was something happening but didn’t really understand what was going on. I had never heard of a pandemic before.

“Especially in the lockdown in March I was very confused. I felt ten times more isolated. I also lost my job. I was an assistant chef in a kiosk and went from working six days a week, to doing nothing seven days a week. It was a huge transition overnight.

“Initially it was fantastic not to be working but after a while I started to feel very isolated and confused. I live on my own and I knew I couldn’t go outside. There was something out there that I had to avoid but I didn’t know what.

“I did a gap year last year but I had always intended to go back to uni, but then I became really confused about what a pandemic was, and what it meant for me at the course. I tried to listen to Boris Johnson but he was saying things I didn’t understand. I got really depressed because I didn’t know what direction to go in. I couldn’t get another job, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to go back to uni. The idea of the pandemic was making me really paranoid.

“I bottled a lot of things up for a while. I didn’t feel I could talk to people about how I was feeling, I felt like I would be a burden on people as everyone was affected by the same thing.

“But then I started to do things that had helped me with my mental health in the past. I started getting into fitness and creating a daily routine for it. I started writing a journal and putting my feelings into music and also got back into doing art, drawing portraits. I was trying to focus on the things that give me a sense of peace and happiness.

“Looking forward, these things really helped me create a new life during the pandemic and I’ve picked up physical as well as emotional tools that will help me cope a lot better. I have got used to the way that things are and it’s very useful for me to think about how I have got my life back. When it first came around I was forced to change. Now, I don’t go out to eat as much or order takeaway as I’m very cautious but I started doing more at home rather than outdoors. I stick to seeing the same family members to minimise any risks but I am grateful for the fact that I am not panicking anymore. I am preparing myself for another lockdown and I am prepared for any sharp turns that come.”

Tiara spoke to us in November 2020

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