Being a teen is tough. London teenagers share how the pandemic has made it even harder

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Away from her friends and regular routine, London teenager Eesha Parashara developed an eating disorder during the UK’s first national lockdown, which began last March.

Isolation and loneliness, coupled with social media, proved a toxic combination.

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“When I ate every meal, my stomach would hurt for about an hour,” Parashara, 17, recalled. “Then not going to the toilet for about two weeks or three weeks. And obviously I was really bloated. And then I looked at my body in different ways. So why am I putting on weight? Why am I not going to toilet? Is there something wrong?”

Despite knowing the pitfalls, she kept comparing herself to others online.

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“It is a big influence on the way you think,” she said. “Everyone else, when you’re on social media, they put up all the good parts. They never put up the negative parts of how they’re feeling, the way they look. It’s all the good angles. And you’re sat at home thinking: Why don’t I look like that?”

As light began to appear at the end of the pandemic tunnel, Parashara said she felt additional anxiety about returning to school and normal life, fearing that the opportunities for social development, important for her future at university, are irretrievably lost.

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Her concerns echo the anxieties of many adolescents grappling with uncertain futures. Teenage life was stressful before the pandemic, and now memories of lockdown weigh heavy on the collective psyche.

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