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Mental health has always been important to me but it became even more important starting in my early tweens. My family and I were struggling as we just had a big move. I really was not doing too well; there was a new school, new people, a new house, and lots of stress at home. My mom was overwhelmed with the stress of unhappy kids, getting everyone re-established, and setting up a new household. My Dad wasn’t there since he was working hard at a new job plus making community connections. I was incredibly angry with my parents for moving us away from everything we knew. This is the earliest I can remember being depressed.
I was not an easy teenager, and I’m not sure how much it had to do with the fact that we moved or the hormones of just being a teenager. There were times that I got so low that I scared myself and my family. There are also times when I got so angry I lost control and did things I regretted.
My mom was incredible; she would do the most amazing thing. She would just listen, letting me express all my anger and frustration, and sadness. She wouldn’t interrupt; she just let me speak. We used to call these “pity parties” and I’d get to talk about what was bothering me for a certain amount of time and then I needed to move on. Then we tried to rationally talk about what was going on and how we could fix things or if it couldn’t be fixed, just move on. I was also lucky enough to have the ability to speak to a therapist throughout my teenage years.
Looking back, the fact that I had a therapist to talk to made a big difference since I could be honest and talk about all of my frustrations. I didn’t have to pretend or put on a mask and pretend that everything was okay. I could honestly say I hated school, I didn’t like my classmates but I liked my teachers. I don’t remember the exact time, but I started medications for my anxiety and depression around that time. The combination of talking and medications really helped me get through a few rough time periods.
What did I learn by passing through the hard times? Avoid or don’t spend time with people who make you feel bad. Spend time with people who make you happy if you have a choice. Having a support system is important. Setting up a support system before you get in crisis mode is important so you have something to fall back on. It’s like building anything: it takes time, effort, trial, and errors. Nothing worth having happens instantly. Communicating, talking, expressing the fact that you’re not doing too well is important as no one is a mindreader so they can’t know that you’re in trouble unless you tell them. There’s no shame in seeking professional help, either in the form of therapy or getting medication to make life easier. Most importantly, nothing lasts forever. I have discovered that even my toughest, most difficult times thankfully didn’t last forever.
Part of the reason I’m doing so much better these days is I’m no longer in school, I’m not a teenager anymore. I’ve got a great support system and I’m taking the right medication for me. I’m also lucky enough to have a place of my own. A job, a cat, and lots of good friends are also vital to my well-being. I’m so grateful for the people who helped me through my younger years to get me to this point. I’m so happy that I didn’t give up but I kept putting one foot in front of the other, and that I’m now in a good place. Things may get more difficult in the future, that I don’t know, but I do know that I will continue to utilize my supports for better mental health.
I hope this blog brings comfort that you are not alone, that there are lots of people who are also struggling. I know that it’s tough and that you may be struggling but please keep reaching out for help and support. It takes courage and bravery to reach out to another person and ask for support. There are lots of ways to get help and there are lots of people who want to help.