I’ve had enough now –  Thoughts after two years of COVID  

Content warning: COVID

In 2020 when COVID started I was in hospital for my longest ever single admission – 4 months. I saw the news about a cruise ship and some new illness. I assumed it would all fizzle out and not be much of an issue. Not long after that I went to the hospital cafe. I was puzzled. They had removed all the tables and chairs and put sticky-tape crosses on the floor for people to line up behind to ensure social distancing. ‘This is serious’ I thought. The chief doctor held a meeting every morning. Her statements were increasingly terrifying. My biggest worry at the time was not catching COVID but being discharged before I was ready due to the hospital ward being repurposed for COVID cases. Life with COVID was initially very disturbing and stressful for me – the uncertainty around the disease alone had a big impact.

Over time things became not quite business as usual but I became used to living in a dramatically changed world. At first I thought it looked like we were in a totalitarian society with curfews and restrictions on travel. An outsider looking at our society would almost certainly think we had a hardline government which didn’t like its citizens very much. It was interesting that the restrictions were actually related to keeping people safe. 

The anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists took things to a whole new scary place. To my mind they are risking people’s lives and threatening all of us with their paranoid nonsense. I have schizophrenia so know a little about paranoia except for me it is part of a pathology not a conscious choice to be, well for want of a better word, to be a dick.

People now talk about the ‘new normal’ of COVID. I don’t think it will ever be normal. The situation were are in is extraordinary. Some people say ‘we are all in this together.’ While I understand the sentiment I actually disagree with that on a few levels. I think we all face the threat of ourselves or those we love contracting the disease and the disease itself is the same pathogen but other elements of experience mean it impacts on us differently. An autistic person and a neurotypical person for example will probably have different issues with COVID. There are cultural and socio-economic issues around COVID too. I know a transgender person who spent the entirety of lockdown having to live with  their transphobic parents who were anything but supportive. That is a very different experience to when I was quarantined while staying in a mental health service with supportive staff. ‘We are all in it together’ is not really a very helpful statement.

For autistic people there are some specific issues around COVID. The one that gets me is the test. I have had one COVID test and it was horrific. I want to avoid ever having to do that again but understand that I will probably need to have another one at some point. The sensory onslaught that is the test was traumatic. Other issues for autistic people include the isolation which quarantining can involve and the uncertainty and fear around COVID.There really are no answers at this point. Autistic people really like answers and there is almost nothing we can pin down with COVID. The information changes every week, be that around vaccinations, travel restrictions, wearing masks and a myriad of other issues all which can cause extreme stress for autistic folks.

And yes, masks. Masks can be a nightmare. In Australia where I live autistic people can get an exemption from wearing a mask. This seems to be a great idea. The problem is that people are so judgemental if they think someone is doing the wrong thing through not wearing a mask that they can be really abusive. Even if people don’t respond badly many autistic people are concerned about potential judgement from others that they wear a mask even if it is sensory hell to do so. 

I actually don’t have any nifty Yennski answers to these things. I really hope COVID ceases to be an issue but I don’t know what will happen – nobody does. The vaccines are good even if they don’t completely stop the illness. Maybe there will be improvements in the impact of the vaccines. I am a strong proponent of vaccination for everyone who can have one. Maybe the COVID virus will mutate itself into something less harmful. Maybe what we have now is what our long term future looks like. Maybe the impact of lockdowns, fear around the virus and restrictions will result in a generation of people who have significant mental health issues who otherwise wouldn’t have them. Maybe so many people will experience ‘Long COVID’ it will impact on the ability of society to function in the way it has in the past. Although on a positive note, maybe flexible working arrangements like working away from the office will be available to those who need them.

I hope the future is more hopeful than things have been in the past two years.  I have had more stress from COVID than I could imagine and I am far from alone in this. We don’t know a lot of the impact yet but I hope the world recovers and then maybe we can take some hope away from this difficult, stressful, uncertain age. 

2 thoughts on “I’ve had enough now –  Thoughts after two years of COVID  

  1. I do enjoy your insightful blog posts, Yenn! While I am well aware of the negatives for most people during this pandemic, I have to confess it has been a positive for me overall. I have actually enjoyed the social isolation and been able to pursue several interests that I have been unable to enjoy for years. I haven’t even had to enter a supermarket since early 2020. I had my vaccinations and booster as soon as they were available to me but my greatest fear is having to have a covid test, as I have lots of sensory issues around my face, nose, mouth and throat.
    The worst part was having my mother in lock down in her nursing home for much of the last two years, but she had advanced dementia and my siblings an I made sure that she was very well looked after. Amazingly, she waited until lock down finished at the beginning of November and we could all come and see her, then stopped eating, and went into palliative care for just long enough for us all to come and say goodbye, before dying on Remembrance Day with some of us beside her! We were then able to have a wonderful send-off for her. She had been an extraordinary woman [and most likely autistic too] so it was really horrible to see her slow deterioration over the last 14 years, but her timing at he end was just brilliant so I can’t be sad that it is now over!

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  2. You’re right with austistics just wanting answers and the revolving, evolving narrative that frankly still doesn’t make sense is frustrating.
    Both me and my boy are Aspy’s and quite content to not socialise much but the last 2 years ended up being difficult with lockdowns and not keen for a rinse and repeat of last year this year.

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