With the great lockdown gradually easing, a lot of people are finding the transition back to “normal” life, whatever that looks like now, difficult.
Just remember – you are not alone in that. It’s a little overwhelming going from an environment you completely control, back into one with so many variables. Particularly if your brain chemistry already leaves you prone to experiencing increased anxiety.
But what you are feeling is valid. And completely normal.
AAP has had a look at some of those feelings:
Mental health professionals are now looking to the post-isolation stage, which could cause as much anxiety for many, just as going into lockdown did.
The Autism Awareness Australia chief executive officer, Nicole Rogerson, said while autism is different for everyone, there have been additional challenges to come with it during isolation.
For school-aged children, the lockdown and subsequent school closures were very challenging for children who either didn’t understand the change or who struggled with the indefinite nature of the timing of the lockdown.
Some children might have liked the reduced demands of school and social situations but many also found great anxiety with the change of routine.
Rogerson said for adults with autism, the social isolation was welcomed by some.
The shared anxiety of Covid uncertainties has been difficult for many. The return to work, with the ongoing threat of an invisible virus, is very stressful for individuals with autism.
The chief executive of national mental health charity SANE, Jack Heath, said as Australia went into lockdown their online forums spiked, with participant numbers doubling from 3,000 to 6,000 per week in March.
Heath said many of the problems were around existing mental health issues being amplified and it was important to meet these long-term needs after isolation.
As restrictions ease, Heath said it was understandable for people to be feeling anxious given how uncertain times are.
Heath’s advice is to reach out for help and take stock of any positives to have come from isolation.
Do a list – two, three, four or five things that were positive and take that with you moving forward.
The lead clinical advisor at Beyond Blue, Dr Grant Blashki, also expects many may find coming out of isolation overwhelming.
When Beyond Blue launched it’s coronavirus specific support service on 9 April, it received 6,300 emails and more than 180,000 visits to the website, Blashki said.
The kinds of issues presented were around isolation, pressure-cooker households with lots of kids, unemployment and stress about infection – things that will not simply go away as lockdown ends.
Blashki said as people begin to re-enter society, for anyone feeling anxious it is important to be gentle with yourself and set some ground rules when it comes to communication with others.
Re-engage in small steps, catch up with people who aren’t too full-on and in smaller groups – go out for a coffee, not to a party if it’s too much.
Autism Awareness Australia: 1300 900 681
SANE: 1800 187 263
Beyond Blue coronavirus hotline: 1800 512 348