COVID-19 Series

Concentrating On COVID: Setting Priorities to Return to the Community

Having received my second dose of the COVID-19 Vaccine and while I am not completely certain that the end is in sight, although there is a glimpse in the eyes of many of an end being there. As being independent again for almost six months, mostly under a heightened state of staying at home and remaining idle. While it is recommended to wait the two weeks to assure Immunity, I need to gradually work at getting out of the little burrow that I have dug myself into.

While I have returned to day program and work the majority of the time, there’s a time that I feel that I cant balance my time well and because of all of the virtual opportunities that are out there opposed to over a year ago, I need to realize that I need to set my priorities and work on myself being better and not having Zoom overload. The other day, when I received my second vaccine, my mother wanted to do some shopping and because it was in the area of where my day program and where work is located I had an heightened sense of anxiety about being out in the community because I wasn’t at day program and while I wasn’t scheduled to work, I had fears about being seen in the shops by others.

My mother wanted to go to a thrift shop that was in eyesight of the day program and I discouraged her from doing so because I might be seen there by those at the day program. While this is a slight impossibility, I know for that moment I was having a mental health day and needed to take care of myself. With that being said, I do need to take care of myself and realize that while I am a great value in many regards to the autism and mental health communities in which I reside, I need to set my priorities for me and what I need to work on, because my journey isn’t over yet and I haven’t reached peak optimality, therefore I need to work on prioritizing my needs which you might think for someone being autistic that may come easy, but it isn’t.

 You want to be everywhere and technology like Zoom and Teams makes that possible to happen, but you lose sight of what is important, those actual connections and what life was before the pandemic began, now that I am vaccinated for the time being, in a few weeks I should feel comfortable doing things in the community again. I know that the need for needing to physically distancing and masking won’t go away, but it has been so long since we realized what things were before the pandemic. Without a doubt we will not return to pre-pandemic anytime soon, but we have to see a glimpse of what is the “new normal.”

Also, the other day, I chose to get fast food to go, and at the one establishment while the sign at the door stated that masks were required, it did post state that if you didn’t, they would assume that it was because of needing an exemption. While I being autistic respect the need for exemption because of medical and sensory related issues, I feel that some individuals falsely claim that they cannot wear a mask simply because they don’t want to. I went to a webinar yesterday for work and it was stated by a medical professional that the transmission of the COVID-19 virus was transmitted more in droplets and masks, social distancing and vaccinations are key tools in not only getting herd immunity but in preventing spikes, and he personally felt that some governments were too premature in relaxing restrictions in returning to normal, to the point that some private establishments were banning masks.

We as not only an autistic or mental health community have been fighting this virus for so long that we just want to have some sort of normalcy. Yes, we are thankful for technological improvements like Zoom, Teams, etc., but nothing replaces good old-fashioned contact, however it will need to be done safely and accurately within government requirements. Maybe I am a little too cautious to do so for fear of having to take a step back, but I have to realize that I need to get my priorities set for taking care of myself mentally and physically.

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