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.
I have a good life and I’m grateful for what I have and my experiences. I have a lot going for me but I also have a lot of mental health issues. So even though I have a pretty good, successful life, it doesn’t mean that I don’t have problems. I don’t often like writing or talking about my mental health problems since it feels too much like whining.
One of my biggest difficulties is managing my stress. My body goes into fight or flight mode very easily so my system thinks something big, bad and scary is out to get me and I need to run for my life. When in reality, I’m stressed by much less life threatening situations like having deadlines for work or laundry to do. I’m not sure why my body overreacts but I find it tiring and frustrating.
I’m so easily stressed that it affects my ability to talk to people since I’m anxious before I even approach someone to speak. I would rather clean my bathroom than talk to someone about a difficult subject. Having a hard time talking to people has affected all my relationships and it is much harder to have close relationships. I really don’t feel close to my friends these days and I’m finding myself increasingly frustrated and angry with them. I find it hard because I don’t know how to explain why I’m so angry and I don’t know if they would listen.
My stress is not just in my head but in my body too. I get headaches, stomach pain and my ears hurt. I don’t about others but I know I’m in trouble when my ears start to hurt. This means I have had enough stress and my body is telling me that I need to leave and/or calm down. I find it helpful to eat less food that is more bland when stressed. Taking headache medicine can help me with my stress levels. I also have a prescription for anti-stress medicine that I take daily that really helps. I find having routine helps a lot, along with keeping my home organized; these two things help cut down on my stress level as well. In the moment, when I’m anxious, I concentrate on taking slow deep breaths and feeling my body in space. I keep saying in my mind ‘this will not last, all things come to an end.’ If I can’t take time to slow down, I just fake that everything is okay. Sometimes acting like everything is okay makes me feel better. I’m not sure why that would be but sometimes it works for me.
There are lots of ways to respond to stress and there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution unfortunately. Learning what works best for each one of you is an ongoing process. I wish you luck with learning and practicing what works well for you when dealing with stress.