Monday, June 27

When Isis’s mind short-circuited | Spain


The floor is pristine. Not to be a student flat, but in general. The shiny parquet, the full fridge. Nothing on the table in the living room. Everything in its place in the bathrooms. “There is already enough anxiety in this house, the order gives a certain calm, the three of us are very So”, Isis S. Goberna, 23, will later say. Now, on this harsh morning at the end of June in which the meeting takes place, inside the shared apartment of Moratalaz, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Madrid, it is not convenient to talk about anxiety. Isis presents her final degree project. With the tefegé (TFG) ends Journalism, the career of which he knew the subjects since he was 12 years old: “I always had it very clear, and now, suddenly, I don’t know what to do.”

On the screen, two teachers and four other students have the formal talk of all classes on Zoom: “Can you hear me?”, “I can’t see you”, “You have the mike off”. Isis’s computer is under the loft bed, next to a microphone with which she makes podcast. On the wall is a poster of Jaws, photos in a cork, post-it with quotes in English. On the shelves, everything Harry Potter, Scott Fitzgerald, Neil Gaiman, a zombie guide. Also: a scooter, a rugby ball, a guitar with a rainbow strap. The Isis TFG is a monographic journal on paper, a la Jot Down, about artificial intelligence. On the cover is a replica of the key unicorn origami in the ambiguous ending of Blade Runner. Its titled Do humans dream of electric futures?

Isis’s dreams have short-circuited. In the audio that he sent to EL PAÍS answering the question, what is it like to be young in 2021? it sounds sad and calm. His voice seems many more years than it has: “I have been working since I was 16 and I thought that one had ended up burned with work at 50 but here I am with a leave of absence due to stress and anxiety, trying to juggle to finish my degree, pay the rent and take care of my mental health, without any perspective of working on my own, or getting to have the life I want ”.

Isis S. Goberna in the Moratalaz neighborhood (Madrid) where she shares a flat.
Isis S. Goberna in the Moratalaz neighborhood (Madrid) where she shares a flat. Samuel Sanchez

A month ago the juggling spilled all over the floor. Isis works part-time at a multinational coffee shop chain. During the confinement she was from ERTE because they have a “decent” contract, according to her, of six euros an hour for 18 hours a week. With that, his orphan’s pension (his mother died when he was 18) and what his father spent on the widow’s pension adds up to about 800 euros and is pulling. He pays 350 for the room in the Moratalaz apartment that he shares with his friends Jaime, whom he knows from school, and Paula, from his career. I used to work as a stagehand in a theater. He liked it better, but he didn’t make ends meet. “The cafeteria gave me some financial stability, but it took away the emotional one. You feel useless all the time, not only because it is not what you want to do, nor because of work, which I am used to … It is the feeling of not having any feedback positive, of complying with a million absurd rules, that nothing you do has value, nor is it going anywhere; I did not know how to manage it ”. He says it with more sorrow than resentment. After confinement, concentrating on her final degree project, return to lattes he could with her. I already went to a Social Security psychologist: a 20-minute session every three months (“they give you advice like doing yoga, they don’t have time for much more”). One day, after a shift in the cafeteria in which two people did the work of five, Isis returned to the floor without air. Tachycardia, dizziness … when he began to feel that his back fell asleep, he went to the emergency room. Diagnosis: paresthesia and a 90-day leave due to stress and anxiety. She was referred to psychiatry, where she was prescribed Sertraline, a low-dose antidepressant. “It seems the solution is to medicate you and get you back into the system as soon as possible,” says Isis, who still prefers it to benzodiazepines (anxiolytics based on drugs like Orfidal, Trankimazin or Lexatin).

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The mention of the “benzos” will then open a debate in the orderly room. The three lads knowingly comment on their side effects, the hitch they produce, their long-term uselessness. Jaime, like many of his friends, has tried them, self-medicating with his parents’ medicine cabinet. He has had a form of nerve psoriasis that caused small necroses of the skin on his hands. Paula somatizes her “negative and paralyzing thoughts” in the form of a stomachache. “Not only do you talk with your music or film colleagues, but also about this, we support each other, we save each other … Talking about mental health in our generation is totally normalized,” says Paula, stating that of her seven intimates “as five go to therapy ”. She has just been contacted by a psychologist who charges 50 euros an hour. Isis can’t find anything for less than 45 and she can’t afford it, those from the Complutense charge 30, but they are “totally collapsed, they don’t have a hole until October,” he says. In a long talk about spaghetti carbonara, the friends will theorize about how long they have lived. Possible appointments to put on post-it:

– “With mental health it has happened as with feminism, before it was thought that it was a problem from inside doors, but when it begins to share, you see that it happens to everyone: the problem is not you, it is the system” .

– “We have a brutal demand to complete some studies that only offer an uncertain future, you feel like Sisyphus carrying the rock up the mountain again and again.”

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– “Crystal generation? It is terrible that we are criticized for being sensitive, of course we have been raised in attention and pampering more than in authority, how can that be bad? “

But that will be later. Now Isis has to present her TFG. Her friends show her their thumbs and reassure her (“enjoy it”, “it’s the best job in that school”), especially since the teachers have beaten up her two previous classmates. “Prrrrr, prrrrrrr.” Isis does vocal exercises learned from the theater while nervously rubbing her thighs. He breathes, opens the mike and begins to explain his work with humility, passion and a prodigious calm.

“She is very mature; his life has been a game in expert mode ”, his friend Jaime, owner of the Nintendo Switch that adorns the frugal living room, will later say. Isis the account openly: her family had money until they stopped having it, her father has worked a bit of everything and her mother, who died of cancer when she started her career, was a singer and came to Eurovision (with the group Trigo Limpio ). Then there were difficult moments, including two evictions as a child. After the second, added to episodes of bullying Because she was “different,” Isis suffered from undiagnosed depression (“I ate it by myself in my room …”). “I grew up being aware of precariousness, perhaps that is why now I would like to have everything more atadito“, He says. And also, looking at his friends: “I don’t have a place to go back, this is my home. home”. Even so, he keeps the good things: a “fantastic relationship” with his parents, the friends he found along the way, sports, reading. He does not look at the future with anger either. Yes with despair: “I accumulate fatigue, I feel older.” He wanted to have gone to London or Berlin (“to be a little young”) but Brexit and covid frustrated him, the only way in the medium term to move forward is to sign up for a part-time master’s degree and get a grant. “With that and a little job, go pulling.” He has “many ideas, formats, journalistic projects.” And a but: “I will have to do them on my own, the big media are an inaccessible elite for someone like me, even if you get a scholarship to do a professional master they ask you for full dedication, that ‘give everything’ is only for those it has financial backing ”.

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Her ambition is different: “To be healthy and have the people I love close by.” “The punk thing now is taking care of yourself and taking care of those around you,” he says. “In a system that only wants you to produce, love is revolutionary.” And labor? “Working on something that doesn’t make me want to jump off the balcony … very ambitious, to be able to write stories ”.

Isis and her friend Jaime hug in the apartment they share in Madrid, after the presentation of the final degree project of this journalism student.
Isis and her friend Jaime hug in the apartment they share in Madrid, after the presentation of the final degree project of this journalism student. Samuel Sanchez

Those you have written for your TFG are rewarded. The professors rave about: “There is journalism and dedication”, “it is an original look”, “no academic record compares to presenting this in a company”, “it is a glaring example of what an end-of-term project should be. grade”. Palmario. “It smells like license plate here,” her flatmates whisper, holding on to the urge to hug her. Isis keeps the guy, splutters an overwhelmed “Jopé, thank you very much” and hangs up. Only then does she breathe a huge sigh, folding over in the chair and allowing her own to hug her.

“I have felt useful, that I am worth something”, he will say later, “quite the opposite of what he felt in the cafeteria.” But it is a bittersweet ending, it opens the door of a gigantic “Now what?” She has done her part. The world, at the moment, does not accompany. In a showcase in the pristine living room, the origami unicorn dangles delicately and complexly on its little paper legs.

Chapter 6. Mood

Testimonials | “Society has forgotten us”

The precariousness and the difficulty to become independent or form families dent the spirit and mental health of young people, who complain of being invisible to the political class

Podcast | Panic

“Looks like you’re going to die.” Several young people recounted their experience with panic attacks, anxiety and anguish caused by the lack of expectations.

Opinion | Bottom

The precariousness and lack of expectations of young people also affects their mental health, with an increase in anxiety disorders

THE WHOLE SERIES | A generation in search of the future


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