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How I'm Coping With COVID-19 Anxiety as an Autistic Person

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2020. What a year it has been so far. I think we all know how this year has been affected by COVID-19. We have known, or at least know of those, who have tragically perished due to the virus. We know the many places this demonic virus has spread, like Italy and New York. We know how the virus has led government officials to force small business owners to temporarily close their doors and has either led people to work at home or left them with no job at all. We also know how many things we were looking forward to, like trips, graduations, festivals, concerts, games and even family get-togethers have been disrupted and canceled. It has been as if life is at a standstill.

Along with the knowledge we have attained above, another issue that the virus has contributed to the world is how it is affecting mental health. Many people’s anxiety has gone through the roof due to this pandemic. Most of it deals with the unknown. Will I have a job tomorrow? Will I get sick? When will I see my family and friends? Will I be able to keep my business? Are we flattening the curve? Will I get infected going food shopping? When will it end? The anxiety of the unknown goes on and on. Many people have been affected by this anxiety and autistic people are no exception to this.

There are autistics out there, including myself, who have been emotionally affected by this pandemic. Our routines have been changed, and we have been forced to learn new social rules. All of this can be overwhelming for an autistic person. Now to be fair, not all autistics have been anxious from this pandemic; some have even been able to thrive during the lockdown. I am not here to generalize every autistic person. However, I found it very overwhelming for me, especially with the unknowns of this pandemic.

Every day I needed to know when it will end. I felt the lockdown would never end and that we would be social distancing for a lifetime. I felt there was nothing I could do to change it. The fact that there was nothing I could do turned my fear into anger. I became edgy and lashed out at others and myself — something that was not me. It is funny how anxiety can do that.

I felt there was no way out. However, as time went by, I have been able to gain a sense of mindfulness. I was able to use ways to cope with my anxiety, such as talking with friends and family, as well as take part in activities I love, such as reading, exercising and painting. I have also learned to look at the positive things that are going on in the world and in my personal life. Currently, things are slowly and gradually opening, infection rates are decreasing, and it seems like a matter of time before life goes back to normal. Personally, I have been fortunate to still see my girlfriend, who I deeply love, as well as see my family and still have a job I go to daily during these uncertain times.

This type of optimism is what has been helping me heal from my anxiety. I guess that what I am trying to say is that, even though these uncertain times can bring about much anxiety, do what you can to maintain a sense of optimism. It does not matter what it is, as long as it gives you a sense of peace for yourself and your inner soul. At the end of the day, this pandemic will be over eventually, and you will be a survivor. Now go out and thrive.

For more on the coronavirus, check out the following stories from our autism community:

Getty image by Golubovy.

Originally published: May 25, 2020
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