Nikyra McCann shares her experience during the COVID-19 pandemic in Madison. Her father, now recovered, was diagnosed with COVID-19; she describes the severity of his illness, and what it was like to have to quarantine and not see him during that time. On the other hand, she shares how the change of pace has given her the opportunity to work toward her aspirations and to inspire hope in others. She discusses her work with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI-Dane County) and encourages people to reach out if they are struggling with their mental health.
Narrator Name: Nikyra McCann
Interviewer Name: Andres Torres
Date of interview: August 31, 2020
[00:00:00] - Start of interview
[00:01:07] - What have the last several months been like?
[00:02:05] - Has anything changed for you because of the pandemic?
[00:03:05] - Tell us about NAMI.
[00:03:13] - Has your perspective changed due to stress?
[00:05:22] - Does any particular moment stand out?
[00:07:08] - Anything else to share?
START OF RECORDING
Interviewer: Hello, my name is Andres Torres. I’m a Library Assistant with Madison Public Library. And today I’m here with Stories from a Distance, part of the Living History Project, an archive of stories and testimonials from people living in and around Madison. And now, today’s narrator will introduce themselves.
Nikyra McCann: Hello, my name is Nikyra McCann. I have been raised in Madison since I was three years old. From Chicago, my mother brought me and my siblings to Madison for a better life. I graduated from East High School. Madison has always been good to me and a good place to be. At the age of 20, I was diagnosed with a mental illness. I just have been through a lot with that. But that has also become my hope and my inspiration and also I give hope and inspiration to others.
Interviewer: Well, thank you so much for being here with us today, Nikyra. The question I have for you today is going to be, “Can you tell us a little bit about your experience during this pandemic, and what the last several months have been like for you?”
Nikyra McCann: So like I said, with being diagnosed with a mental illness, which I am in a better, stable spot right now. This pandemic has been peace for me, I guess I should say. Just lots of opportunities and I’m now on the board of directors for NAMI [the National Alliance on Mental Illness}—the board of directors for housing initiatives. I speak to thousands of people on Facebook, so I guess it’s just become my time of wanting to give others hope. Others are down during this time so I’m always looking for ways to inspire others.
Interviewer: Awesome! Can you tell us a little bit about your day-to-day life and has anything changed for you because of this pandemic?
Nikyra McCann: So, what has changed for me is more independence. I am a single woman, so I don’t have any children, I don’t have a husband, so it’s been sort of a single life. Like coming home, dinner, a movie because you know you have to do the isolation and the quarantine and different things like that. It’s just been—it hasn’t been a bad thing; it’s been a good thing because I feel like during this, during COVID, I’m finding myself. I’m finding who I really am, I’m working on my aspirations, my desires and I’m moving forward in my life to the best of my ability.
Interviewer: Great! You mentioned that you are on the board of directors for NAMI?
Nikyra McCann: Yes.
Interviewer: Can you tell us a little bit about what that is?
Nikyra McCann: NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness. They have groups, and they do a lot of things in the community. It’s national, so it’s all over the world, but they have different states and counties; I’m on the Dane County one here in Dane County. It’s awesome, it’s just a place of hope, a place of inspiration just helping people one on one who battle mental illness.
Interviewer: That’s great. I wanted to ask you, it’s been several months since the pandemic got really serious here in this country, and I know when it first came, there was a lot of anxiety and a lot of people were feeling the stress, and we’ve since had to kind of adapt and deal with that. Do you have any kind of experiences around that? Like a change in your perspective?
Nikyra McCann: One my father was diagnosed with COVID-19 and he is a lot better now; he’s healthier and he—you know, it passed. He no longer has it. My perception has been at first, when it first started to happen I was like “Wow”. You were just living your regular life and boom, you have to be in your house twenty-four hours or you can’t go to the store after such-and-such time. It was sort of like a big change, but, a change for the better, I think. Because sometimes we’re moving so fast in life. We’re doing this, we’re doing that, and I think this sort of slowed everyone down and gave us a chance to think and to get our thoughts together.
Interviewer: I really appreciate that perspective. Sometimes—
Nikyra McCann: Absolutely.
Interviewer: Sometimes it’s just a matter on how we look at something.
Nikyra McCann: Absolutely.
Interviewer: Well, Nikyra, do you have anything else, any other moments? Does any particular moment stand out in the last few months for you?
Nikyra McCann: The moment I would say was when my dad had COVID-19. It was just, I didn’t know if he was going to make it. He didn’t know if he was going to make it. I would call him all day long to just make sure if he was okay because I couldn’t be with him. I had to quarantine myself. So, fourteen days I couldn't see my father. My mom was there with him. She had to take care of him, now she could have got corona—the COVID-19—but she did not catch it. So that was a blessing in itself. So I guess I would just say that God has been my hope and my passion and my drive to get through this situation. And whoever is going through anything, COVID-19, whatever the situation may be, just have faith and things will get better.
Interviewer: That must have been a pretty situation having a family member come down with COVID. Was that here in Madison?
Nikyra McCann: Yes, absolutely, yep.
Nikyra McCann: Yep, yep, my father and mother live here in Madison, and it was definitely something to go through, and it was very serious. So, it wasn’t nothing where it was like, aw, it was just a cold, he’s going to get over it tomorrow, take some NyQuil. No, like I remember my father just nights he didn’t know if he was going to make it. He was in so much pain. But he came through and today he is better for that.
Interviewer: Well, thank you for sharing that story with us. Is there anything else you would like to share with us today, Nikyra?
Nikyra McCann: I guess with having a background of mental health and mental illness I just want people who are listening or who are battling these things during this time to reach out for help, to reach out to family members, to reach out to people in the community, because there are people who care. We don’t want you to give up, there is hope, there is organizations, NAMI, different suicide prevention hotlines that you can reach out to for better days.
Interviewer: Well thank you so much for sharing your story, and I think, myself and anyone listening to this is really going to really appreciate the positive outlook you have on this. I think it’s something we all should take to heart. So, thank you so much for sharing your story.
Nikyra McCann: Thank you so much for your time.
[END OF RECORDING]