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Trying My Best During a Chaotic Time

A middle schooler gets pushed to his limit when he's diagnosed with depression during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hitting rock bottom, he learns to rely on God


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Brother Joe Velasquez

Minister of the Gospel

Brother Joe Velasquez: Our next speaker is going to share how God’s guidance and love helped him to overcome all the anxieties that came with the pandemic. Welcome Adrian Villanueva!

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Trying My Best During A Chaotic Time

Adrian Villanueva

Adrian Villanueva: Throwback to 2020! When the dalgona coffee and cloud bread trends were popular on social media. Do you guys remember that? 

All of these happened during the peak of quarantine and everyone was just trying to make those days fun! But in all seriousness, we didn’t fully see what was going on throughout the world. Now, globally, those days are reported to be the saddest days in history. So many things were going on.

People were feeling anxious. Social and racial prejudice were spiking all throughout the world. It seemed like no one could get rest, which was ironic, because we couldn’t even leave our homes. To be honest, everything was all over the place, unstable and unreliable. Including me. 

When the pandemic began, schools were shutting down. Initially, I was excited, thinking of it as an extended spring break. But then, I had to get used to the outbreaks and it got worse. Classes officially began on Zoom.

Fortunately, the worship services were still continuing online. It was an experience I had to adjust to. I was grateful that I was still able to perform my duties, no matter the circumstance, but like everyone else, wanted to be in the chapel so badly.

At the beginning of quarantine, I sat in my bedroom 24/7 and endlessly [watched] videos. I would go to sleep late at night and wake up late in the afternoon. This pattern affected the way I was living, socially and mentally. I was so isolated.

The relationships and friendships I had were rapidly falling apart and I even got into consistent arguments with my parents because of my grades or how behind I was in my schoolwork.

Before all of that mess, though, I was a hardworking student. I was warming up to middle school—getting used to finding all of my classes—things were going great. I just didn’t have many friends. 

But the most important thing to me was that I had a 4.0 GPA, a number that would practically change my life. There definitely was pressure to succeed. If I saw that number drop to lower than 3.8, I’d panic. I was the type of student to walk up to my teacher, and immediately ask, “How can I get my grade back up?” Academics was my strength.

But during my race to be the best, there were simply moments where I had felt lonely or just inevitably sad. But I wasn’t just sad. After a trip to the doctor during the pandemic, I was diagnosed with depression. And then the world shut down, that’s when it hit me the most—when I reached rock bottom. 

I couldn’t be the student my family or my teachers wanted me to be anymore. Depression was constantly in charge of my emotions, giving me restless sleep. It even led to resentment toward the people I truly cared the most about.

The “friendships” I had then didn’t feel like true friendships. Meeting online and seeing that we were in similar positions was convenient. I didn’t connect with any of them and our values did not align. Because of that, they didn’t value me as a real friend. They weren’t real friends and I couldn’t recognize that then. 

At one point, it felt like I had no one. It felt like depression had the world against me, and it didn’t want me to be happy, that God didn’t even want me to be happy. I knew that it wasn’t true. Depression made me believe things like that.

But I recall the moment when I realized that I wasn’t okay with the way I was living. It was practically midnight and I walked outside of my room, crying, apologizing to my mom. I poured my heart out to her, telling her the things I wanted to do for the better. She gave me advice and told me, “I know it was hard, but next time, try your best and always rely on God.”

That was the best advice I was given. Through countless prayers, I would tell God, “God, I know I haven’t been making the best decisions recently, but it’s hard. I’m trying my best.” I hoped God would answer my prayers so that I could achieve the end goal of being my best self once again. 

Actually, I knew God heard me because He sent some truly amazing friends.  I was struggling to find real and true friends and when I finally had some, their support for me made me a little uncomfortable at first because I wasn’t used to it. But then, I realized that they were the ones that truly had my spirituality in their best interests. These friendships encouraged me to attend activities, both online and in person, and I even became a youth officer. 

I am glad because God knew something was right for me, even when I thought otherwise. Even when I was going through the desperate times, God remembered me by giving me this blessing.

Standing here now, I’m once again a “star student,” maintaining my grades to the best of my abilities. I was even published on one of the biggest San Diego news outlets, simply talking about my story. I now have real friends who care about me and who are always there for me. They don’t just cure my boredom, but they uplift me and my faith. Most importantly, I won’t forget that God remembered me.

Although, this isn’t a story where I say my depressive episodes are over. Sometimes it creeps back in. And when I think that I’m doing so well in life, and then suddenly I feel drained and hopeless. When it happens, I always rely on communication. Talking about it with my family was not an easy conversation. I felt ashamed of myself because I was feeling things that I “shouldn’t” feel. But those that truly cared for me helped me get through it all. 

Even though the pandemic was hard to bear, I came out of it with a deeper understanding between myself and God. The bond that truly means the most to me, and the one I took for granted. God saw that I was struggling, and He decided to redirect me to be a better version of myself. He gave me the mindset I needed to overcome all my problems.

I felt when God helped me through my most desperate times. Now when I look back, I thank God for giving me the greatest gift of all, reassurance. 

My advice is: no matter how young or old someone can be, they could be going through the toughest times. Always check up on your loved ones. Remind them, or yourselves, that “God is one prayer away, He will listen to you.”

The phrase, “God wouldn’t give you something that you can’t handle,” didn’t really resonate with me before, but I realize now, it’s true. So there’s no reason to be worried when tough times come because God is always with me.

Thank you.

Brother Joe: Thank you, Adrian, for being an example of what it means to truly trust God, and for showing that whatever troubles or anxieties we may face, we can truly overcome them all with God’s love. 

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Trying My Best During a Chaotic Time