#MentalStories – Confinement & Autism

#mentalstories #histoiresmentales #covid19youth

EYMH activist Emmy, shares with us shares with us how she manages her mental health with a diagnosis of autism, during covid19.

Emmy is 20, from France and currently living in Pisa, Italy.

As a little girl, I loved to watch animal documentaries about bears and often wished I too could experience hibernation as I imagined this to be a phase of comfort, rest and regeneration. So when I became conscious that we were going to experience quarantine for probably more than a month this is how I tried to look at the situation: a time of hibernation.

But as I wouldn’t want this blog to spread toxic positivity I would like to acknowledge that being able to look at this quarantine as a positive experience is a privilege and that of course, feeling anxious or depressed when you have to spend your quarantine stuck in a toxic environment is normal. Fortunately, I spent my lockdown in a safe space shared with close friends of mine.

Of course, I’ve experienced moments of stress, sadness and homesickness being isolated from my family and friends who lived far away from me and I’ve spent time worrying about my mom and aunt who’s business have been greatly impacted by the lockdown. But even though autism is mostly looked at as a disability in our society, with the lockdown I felt like I wasn’t the disabled one anymore.

In fact, most of the difficulties I encounter everyday are related to tiredness and stress related to being in noisy, crowded environments or having to have a lot of different social interactions every day, situations that require more energy for autistic people than for most of us. But of course, with the lockdown, the noise level around me considerably decreased and the number of social interactions I had with strangers was close from 0. As a result, I noticed most of the time I felt significantly more energetic which helped to reduce my anxiety and increased my productivity.

I know to most people being at home spending a lot of time isolated was heavy but as a person who genuinely needs to spend time alone for the sake of my mental health this situation was of course less of a burden. Since I was a kid I had developed my own bubble of specific interests as a way to cope with the difficulties of everyday life so I guess that it also helped to make this situation looks less scary.

Also, I was finally able to dedicate most of my time to things I was passionate about like beadwork, drawing, painting, reading, watching Studio Ghibli movies, learning a new language, playing music, cooking, learning embroidery, writing, and learning new dances with friends. So when I look back at the number of things I was able to do in two months I feel incredibly grateful for this time of experimentation and reflexion that was given to me.

Beadwork

Of course, not everyone is able to find a shelter in their specific interests and I know for some people anxious or depressive thoughts can block them from doing anything which is perfectly normal. But noticing how my specific interests helped me to deal with the situation definitely helped me to see my autism not only as a disability but as a source of strength. And after speaking with another autistic friend who had a similar experience we both came to the conclusion that after all, maybe at least this situation may have learnt some people what it’s like to constantly having to adapt yourself to a society that does not take into account your specific needs.

Published by Euro Youth Mental Health

I'm a champion for youth mental health - Co-Director of Euro Youth Mental Health - Youth Mental Health First Aid Instructor - Mental Health Participation Expert - Facilitator & Podcaster - Youth Wellbeing giver.

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