Hi everyone. first of all, I was slightly horrified to discover that my last post was longer ago than I thought … oops, but I am trying to be kind to myself at the moment and trying not to worry too much about getting things done if they don’t need to be done but I am hoping to get back on an at least one post a month schedule once again, sometimes I find that the only reason I haven’t written a post is that I haven’t found anything specific that I want to write about, or that I find something I want to write about but currently I don’t have the time to do as much research on it as I would like to (I am hoping to be able to bring out my inner historian a little and do a series of blog posts on bits of autism history, I’m not sure exactly when this would happen or how many posts it would cover but I would love to hear if people would be interested in this – don’t worry it won’t just be boring dates and names!)
So this post is one I’d like to say I didn’t see coming a month ago, but in reality, this post is one I didn’t see coming at the beginning of the week. Since the Outbreak of the Coronavirus in December, now using the scientific name of Covid19, most people in the UK have been feeling that the media is seriously attempting to scare everyone and that there is a lot of fearmongering going on. However, in the past twenty-four hours, a lot of areas around us in the UK have started taking serious action. Italy is closed, Denmark is closed (I keep feeling the need to Quote Tony Stark from Avengers: Infinity war ‘Earth is closed today.’) They are struggling to contain the virus in Italy and the effects are beginning to take hold in Germany. Ireland, which has had less confirmed cases of the outbreak than England, or Scotland I believe, has closed all schools and Universities to create minimal contact between people that is not absolutely necessary.
I am currently sitting at home writing this, knowing that I had to get this post out of my brain before I felt able to start doing the Uni work I need to get on with. This is something that my ASD/ADD brain has got used to over the years and is one of the things I know I need to allow for, if things are on my mind I need to find a way to deal with them or at the very least to put them aside until I’m in a better position to deal with them. Thing is, I don’t know how to put the thoughts around this pandemic out of my head because there is a huge amount of conflicting information out there at the moment.
So yesterday Scotland was told that all of our schools and Universities were to remain open at the time being. We were also told that any event with more than 500 people were going to be cancelled. To me, this was a really contradicting sentence, because I know that many schools and possibly many more Universities have over 500 people in them. I think about the High School I attended, which averages around 1,800 pupils – and then staff on top of that number – and I remember that the corridors were literally nose to tail a lot of the time if you had to stop in a corridor well, good luck to you, you would get trampled. If the virus was to go into that school it would spread incredibly fast.
People are being told that they should work from home if they can. maintain the best hygiene they can and try to avoid close social contact, particularly those with a lesser immune system. This very sentence though seems to depend on who is saying it, there is an issue with wanting the UK to carry on as normal as well as trying to kill the virus through isolation. That is not going to work, it needs to be one or the other.
Today, I have a University lecture, but given the lecture is carried out on a video conferencing system as there are many disconnected campuses for our University, I half – asked, half – told the head of History that I was not coming into the University since I would be taking public transport to get there and through that increasing my risk of exposure to the virus. This seemed a bit stupid to me given that all of my classes are delivered via video conference anyway so I could join the class from home. Luckily my lecturer had no problem with this, and even if she had I believe that due to my autoimmune diseases I would be able to fight for staying at home. Overall there isn’t a huge reason for my education to change and I wouldn’t really have a different experience through not going in person.
This decision was made for this one lecture at present, I don’t have another one until Wednesday and so I’ll be able to see what the best option is from that point onwards but given there is information saying the virus is going to increase and hit its peak in three to four weeks time in the UK, I don’t think it will be too long and they will have to close the University or do all lessons via VC.
But here is the biggest issue, the issue that all of us who are trying to find out the true facts of the virus (and I imagine quite a few ASD folk are) have come up against. No one seems to know anything. No one knows anything for sure and so everyone is deciding to create their own beliefs, people are passing the bucket – one organisation telling you to follow the guidelines of another. In one piece of information from WHO (World Health Organization) I read that those over 60 AND those with autoimmune or immune compromising conditions are equally at risk from the virus, yet another UK based Diabetes charity is saying that people with well-controlled diabetes are at no greater risk than any other adult. Furthering on from that BBC News last night had an interview with a man who has type one diabetes and who has had the virus seemed to be trying as hard as possible to make the virus seems nothing to worry about despite the fact this was what seemed to be a very fit adult man, and that they quickly mentioned he had to get an ambulance to hospital but because he was discharged the same day they brushed over it as no big deal.
I may be biased but having grown up with Diabetes from age 10, having 13 years experience, I know that we are pretty damn good at caring for ourselves in a crisis – that we endure many things at home that others would panic over or be in a hospital with. We are used to waking every hour or two to check blood sugars, ketone levels, give injections or to eat or drink something sugary. We are pretty good at living off liquid sugar when we can’t eat and going unconscious is something that the families of many diabetics are used to seeing and dealing with, getting no medical help.
I feel like my brain is constantly swimming with different facts and figures, experiences and official instructions that it has become like a chess game, one step back and forward all the time, only this chess game has at least four armies trying to get their information across. I think it can come across that I am very worried about the virus, sometimes I am worried, but most of my worrying is not about the actual risk of illness but about the contradictions that everyone is putting out into the public, meaning no one can say for sure what to do.
Some people believe that the media is blowing everything out of proportion and there is no need to worry, quoting facts about the number of people who die each year from conditions like the flu. I agree this is something we need to be aware of but I also feel the need to point out that those illnesses are usually ones we have a treatment plan for, and some like the flu are ones which we can help prevent by getting the flu vaccine. This is new, this is unknown and showing some odd features such as not affecting children under eight years old (some even now think that children might actually act as a vector for the disease, not being affected as such but carrying the virus to others). On the other hand (When I write sentences that begin with things like ‘on the other hand’ I realise how much my life is influenced by academic essays…), there are other countries which are taking much more drastic action than the UK and who have had less cases (like Ireland which I mentioned before) which leads people to think the UK is not putting in what it should until the very last minute because it is aware of the massive consequences which will come from these. Here, for those not in the UK, we are heading into exam season, in Scotland, the National four and five Exams – the first significant exams we take and the ones we can’t leave high school without taking – should be beginning in six weeks time. If schools have to close, if exams can’t go ahead due to the number of people in one room, this could have a big effect on the coming year. Those who have applied to Universities, aiming to start in September may not be able to complete the exams they need in order to get accepted. Of course, there are going to be a lot of other big influences (as much as it is totally trivial, others who understand the intensity of special interests will understand that I have been excited for almost a year for the Black Widow movie – due to be released on the 1st of May, if Disney doesn’t decide to push the release back and/or UK cinemas get closed, then there will be a very upset and frustrated me sitting at home avoiding the internet at all costs because I know it isn’t likely to be safe to go to a crowded cinema to see the film at release), I don’t know of everything that will be influenced.
What I do know is that I am living in a constant state of adrenaline and that it is far more to do with the unknown than it is the virus itself. I am trying to remove everything coming up in the near future from my mind, trying to think no more than a day or two in advance and struggling hugely with the mess that the internet is handing out as advice. This is incredibly difficult, it’s hard for everyone, everyone is confused and concerned but I feel this might be the perfect Aspie paradox.
On one hand, we are being asked to socially isolate, but on the other, that isolation comes with almost no ability to plan our lives.
History students (and probably other humanities ones but I don’t know much about them) will probably remember the Malthusian Catastrophe theory. The idea of Thomas Malthus in 1798 that once the population of people grows beyond a certain level there will always be a disaster; a plague, famine or war, which will massively decrease the population. He believed this was how the world would remain in balance. Most of us enjoy casually talking about his belief and show a little bit of interest in the times his theory seems to have worked – the black death, the first world war and the following flu pandemic, the numerous genocides and deaths at the hands of Stalin and Hitler, – but we never expected to see it being applied in our lifetime.
So, all the aspies and auties out there who are finding times a little difficult at the moment, try to be kind to yourselves. Take your mind off the situation around us if you can, maybe remove yourself from the internet or news sources around you or limit the time each day that you allow yourself to read the news. Keep your mind on the positive things, do things that you enjoy and if you need to take time for your mental well – being then do so.
Thanks, everyone for reading, I hope that things stay reasonably safe and secure in your lives and that by the summer we, like Wuhan where the Virus began, will be kissing goodbye to this outbreak and enjoying our lives without any further concerns. As always please feel free to comment, let me know how things are for you all, even if you just need a space to rant to those who understand. How is it all being handled where you live? And also let me know your thoughts on a series looking at the history of autism, where I can tell you a bit about fairies, hospitals, genius minds and other stuff. Thanks again everyone, your support here is still so amazing to me.