Self-isolation and lockdown has been tough. We haven’t been able to see our loved ones, our family or our friends. The fear of contracting Covid-19 has been at the peak of everyone’s worries with thousands of people stockpiling food and hand sanitiser, frantically scrubbing their hands and wearing face masks twenty-four-seven. Life has been hectic for the NHS, uncertain for millions of workers and completely up in the air for school kids, but what about the issues the virus has caused for people with Asperger’s Syndrome?
For those who aren’t familiar with Asperger’s – it’s a spectrum condition. It’s not an illness, it’s not a disease and it can’t be cured. People with Asperger’s Syndrome have it for life, but it can sometimes cause difficulties that can’t be fixed with the swish of a wand. Common stereotypes include: the fabrication that everyone with the disorder don’t make eye contact, cannot communicate properly and have limited intelligence, but these examples are misrepresentations of a much more complex disorder. I can’t speak for everyone with Asperger’s Syndrome, but most need to have routine, structure and certainty, but Covid-19 has taken these necessities away.
My mum has this invisible condition and society expects her to just cope without help or support further than the internet, so these past few months have been hell for her. She was furloughed from her job at the beginning of April, so her daily routine fell to pieces and so has her mental health as a result. Suddenly not having a routine doesn’t affect the majority of people, but for my mum and many with Asperger’s Syndrome, it’s a debilitating struggle. A routine gets my mum through the day; she knows what she’s doing, and she knows what to expect, therefore less anxiety to simply get through life.
Being furloughed from work and the lack of routine has led to heightened uncertainty, which as mentioned above, many people with Asperger’s need to have. Will the 80% from the government be enough to cover the bills? Will I receive the 80% at all? What if I lose the flat? When will I be able to go back to work? Will I even have a job to go back to? These are all questions my mum has been dwelling over day in, day out, but they’re impossible to answer. She’s since received 80% of her usual wage, but the other questions and such like have been left unanswered. I know the whole world has been asking these things, but for someone with Asperger’s, it’s more of struggle.
As we’ve all been trapped inside throughout lockdown, my mum has been forced to listen to the upstairs neighbours stomping and making racket through the day, which she’d usually avoid while at work. Yes, everyone is in the same boat, but my mum can only cope with loud noises for so long before sensory overload kicks in. It may just be a few noises to you, but imagine these noises ten times louder, all day. You'd go mad! But that’s what it’s like for people with Asperger’s; my mum. So much sensory stimuli can cause extreme stress and lead to meltdowns. And it has.
Witnessing my mum struggle so much is heart-breaking, but it’s even worse for her. It makes me think about all the other forgotten people out there who have had to struggle in silence.
I know we have a long way to go, but I'm desperate for things to go back to normal. Not for myself, but for my amazing mum who is the strongest, bravest person I know.
A better day for my mum will be a normal day back at work, and a better day for me will be seeing her happy again. No more days merging into one and no more tears late at night. A decrease in stress and less anxiety, but more smiles and much more certainty. A structural routine and a stable income with cherished days off and loads more fun! I can’t wait to be woken by her rummaging around as she gets ready for work in the mornings and I long for those 30-minute conversations when she’s on her lunch break. I can’t wait to see more of a spring in her step and I’d do anything for her to feel secure again.
I usually prefer my mum to be at home, with no risk of getting hit by a madman on a bike or getting attacked by a stranger, but safety isn’t always about someone’s physical health. Safety is about their mental health, too.
I can’t wait for Mum’s mental health to get better and I can’t wait for the world to give her some better days.