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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health and Safety Guide

ASERT has put together some resources for those with autism and those who care for people with autism relating to the current Coronavirus outbreak.

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Hiding Behind a Mask

By Out-of-Sync Woman

It’s not just superheroes and villains who wear masks to hide their identities. I know this because when I’m hurting or sad and someone asks how I’m doing I say “I’m good.”

I wear a smile and most people don’t know how much difficulty I’m experiencing. There are only a few people who I trust enough that I truly let them see me as I am, with no mask on.

I hide my sadness, fear, and shame because I often don’t have the words to express how I feel. I focus on surface topics so I don’t dig deeper to expose more difficult issues. I use my excellent language skills to dance around the issues when someone asks what’s wrong. Don’t get me wrong, learning who to make myself vulnerable to is an important life lesson that I’m still working on. I would say that trust is something that takes time to build and I have personally only found a few worthy of this level of connection. It’s risky to open yourself up but I have found that if I don’t, the negative emotions get worse. Having someone to talk to helps me either fix or work past my current problems.

Lately, I have realized how afraid I am and how that fear is making my world smaller. I find it hard to leave my apartment or go to new places or meet new people. My friends want to go on a trip to a new place next year. I’m having trouble differentiating if my fear is realistic or unrealistic. I have some solid reasons I’m nervous about going on these trips: it’s expensive, far away, in a rugged region and isolated area. I also have emotional reasons that are harder to pinpoint.

I also struggle with sadness since some of the relationships I have are unhealthy. I desperately wish I had healthier ties with some of the people in my life. I feel crazy, disappointed, and empty after interacting with these people. I can’t relax since I don’t trust these people and I often feel worse after spending time with them.

I’m also angry about my diagnosis of Autism, anxiety, and depression. I feel more limited and I need more help than a lot of people I know. I wish I was more stable and that I needed less help. These are some of the more difficult emotions I hide behind my mask.

I know I’m not alone in hiding my problems because everyone has their own struggles. I also know that my varying emotions and problems won’t last forever. This deep knowledge is comforting and I try to remind myself of it every time I feel lonely.