Those of us on the spectrum have been practicing social distancing and self quarantine for eons. In fact I can almost guarantee when some of us autistics are/were being told to self quarantine because of suspicion of or testing positive for Coronavirus or COVID 19 society doesn’t bat an eye or misses us because we never leave our homes in normal circumstances.(Too soon to joke about? Oh well…one day my readers and society will get use to my crude humor) People on the spectrum alike are making jokes about how we have spent our lives in quarantine, we have been practicing for this for years, quarantine is the name of my lifestyle, or some are glad society has agreed social distancing is awesome. You get the point…
No matter how introverted a person is, or how much self exclusion they have experienced, no one was truly ready for this. Even though I am more than content being locked away from society, there is still the fear that I chose the wrong career choice and work in a grocery store. The fear of running out of food and the uncertainty of having to go shopping for products that have been touched by thousands of other people and people not being able to respect your 10 foot bubble even when you try your hardest to respect theirs.
Although some of these jokes may be an exaggeration, it is true most of us on the spectrum are more mentally prepared and have the tools to deal with this pandemic than the average person. We have already developed coping skills for loneliness and isolation. Many of us have been forced to be self sustaining from years of bullying or exclusion. Some simply don’t feel like they fit into or want to fit into a society and are happier being excluded. Whatever the reason may be…it is true that those on the spectrum are the masters of quarantine.
This is why it is our time to shine!!! I think those of us on the spectrum can help contribute to society or in some cases help save it by sharing our experiences and stories through writing, art, discussing, or simply taking care of your personal needs in this pandemic because social distancing alone is helping…A LOT.
I plan to help by practicing as much social distancing as possible and remaining in self quarantine as much as my work will allow me too…wait I already do that regularly. Teehee. I also will share some of my life experiences in how I became an expert on self isolating, but still leading a successful and happy lifestyle. However, even though I have spent my life on the spectrum and can only handle so much socialization and leaving the safety of my house, it even took me years to master.
As a child making friends was very hard, and not just because of bullying, although it was something I did experience. I found it hard to make friends because I always felt out of place and finding someone or something to relate to was very difficult. What was even worse was I never knew why I was different or why I struggled with certain things such as having different interests than people my own age, not wanting to spend 24/7 with my friends, not wanting to go anywhere where there was a huge crowd of people etc…I always had a very small group of friends because of this and probably would have socialized less if my brother and I didn’t share the same circle of friends. I think because of all my struggles and not really knowing where I belonged, who I was etc…I spent the majority of my teen years in isolation. I rarely left my room and this continued into my twenties. I however was not any happier than when I was struggling to relate to people my own age. I was severely depressed and had other mental health problems. Most of my peers, friends etc thought it was because I closed off society and locked myself in my room. That lack of social activity or not connecting with the real world was the reason why I was depressed and struggled to be happy. Although some of it may be true, it is NOT all true. I think if I had known of my autism and other struggles I could have managed everything a lot better than I did. The combination of all these things I think caused me to be depressed and I lacked the motivation to be successful at anything, or to find what makes me happy. I probably would have been able to maintain stronger friendships if I knew how to handle myself better in social situations, but I never would have been that social butterfly or one you would find hanging out with tons of friends. At most I enjoy hanging out with one or two people at a time because it is much easier and more comfortable for me. Though I have some happy memories of hanging out with the few friends I did have, I also have great memories of me spending hours in my room just listening to music, writing or doing something I enjoy. I do enjoy leaving the house as long as it is with one or two other people or just by myself. I know this now because now that I am a productive person in society, I married a man who is similar to me when it comes to things like socializing, also has mental health problems. understands me, my challenges, my uniqueness and my autism, I still spend just about as many hours in quarantine as I did as a teen (including down time by myself away from my husband) and I am very happy with my life. I am still productive, I do leave the house, I do chores I never did growing up, I have responsibilities I never thought I would be capable of taking care of and so on. I am happier because I have found out how to manage my life on the spectrum, I do things on my own terms and I have found ways to over come my struggles and when I can’t I learn to cope with them. Most importantly I let go of the fact I will never be what society wants me to be or tells me what I should be.
Our store has limited hours and are now closed over night. Have been for awhile now. It is probably one of the greatest things to come from this pandemic. It certainly not only makes me fear my life at work, but my social anxiety is more manageable when I don’t have to deal with annoying ass customers being in my personal space asking stupid questions like “Are you hiding toilet paper in the back room.” We can also do our grocery shopping on our lunch and not have to shop with other customers during regular store hours. As much as I want life to return to normal, I dread going back to working in a 24 hour store. I have also been enjoying my two weeks off of self quarantine minus the week I spent feeling like death. It was a much needed break and I don’t want to be working during these times at all, closed or not. I am thankful though to be closed during the hours I work when I go back.
Sometimes being alone can be great for so many different reasons. You can truly learn to love yourself, and you can really find what you are passionate about. These times of social distancing is a great opportunity to get back to things we love doing be it painting, writing, playing an instrument, honing their gaming skills, or whatever it may be…You do NOT have to spend boring hours of just watching the same movie on netflix or reruns of your favorite tv show. Most importantly we need to practice being alone for safety and it should not be felt as a deprivation.
Something else some of us autistics are great at is our need to learn, collect information and organize. Use this time in self isolation to learn something new that intetests you, even if it is COVID news. Don’t let society tell you are being paranoid, or you are too obsessed over it. As long as you are smart about the resources you are reading or watching it could be important to know if ibuprofen is safe or not. It can also help you feel more in control and safer when you know what is going on and what you are dealing with. It is also important to know if someone is too close as in if you can smell their breath, they are too close rather they have COVID or not, no one needs to be that close and personal.
We can use our self soothing skills to remain calm in these stressful times. Taking care of our health and whatever works best for you is how we will win this. Communicating our self soothing and self isolation skills can help those who are not use to being self isolated and feel like they are being deprived of their right to socialize.
Those of us on the spectrum have so many skills and information we can share in these fragile times and help conquer this pandemic together (but like 20 feet apart together…k thanks) Maybe some of the people we help will remember us as helpful people and have deep understanding of things non autistics may need or not know of. Time and time again Autistics are shunned or shut out from society. Not this time guys! The world and society never needed our help more than now and we can by sharing our experiences without endangering ourselves.
I plan to also reorganize and finalize my autism playlist or may other playlists some might enjoy in self isolation over my last few days off and will share it once it is complete. Maybe later tonight or early morning as I am trying to pull an all nighter and reset my schedule since my normal work schecule is overnight. 🙂
This is just some thoughts that have crossed my mind the past month or so and been wanting to share it sooner but didn’t get around to it..IT IS A LITTLE LATE INTO THE PANDEMIC, but better late than never…This post may be subject to change AKA edit in the future. ~ My Authentic Mind