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Mental Health, Anxiety, Panic Disorders, and the Pandemic

It is surely no secret to tribe members that I am someone with high-function autism, and occasionally have anxiety and panic disorders. Within the tribe, a number of you actually video-called me, and some of us did some accountability buddies sessions.

To all tribe members who cared and offered their ears to chat and keep checking on me, I have to tell you that this has had a massive impact on my life; bigger than you could imagine.

For people who are autistic and those who have mental health disorders, the lockdowns were brutally hard. Brutal, because I'm not used to being indoors 24/7. Not being able to travel, not being able to go for woodland walks in nature, and not being able to enjoy the park or even socialise, which I enjoy, was quite difficult. I worked hard on personal development and attending webinars to learn real-life training events. I did 2 two days and did one in 2023 and 2024.

So let us get back to the beginning and how I coped with the lockdown. To be completely honest, I did not cope as well as I would have liked. It was especially hard because it was unprecedented. I mean, my parents got through WW2, but that's a totally different scenario. As I didn't want to risk infection, my exercise was doing lots of laps in the back garden of our home so I didn't need to get close to others. I also had to cope with my anxiety. I would do group messenger video calls with autistics back in Bristol, so we make each other laugh, catch up on news, and even tease each other.

All this is not on meds but I have neighbours who do shopping for me and ring the doorbell then I go and fetch it.

And so came June 2020, when the landlord decided to raise the rent a lot. You have to realise I had never been homeless up until this point. He helped me look, but most landlords wanted 6 months upfront, and I didn't have that kind of money. Also no DHSS either, so the last chance was my current flat, where I have now stayed for 2 years and 3 weeks. I viewed it on Thursday, and then moved in on the Monday of next week, as Thursday was eviction day. The Welsh government gave me a window to move. I was very fortunate and very grateful but then I needed to go on sertraline for 12 months to take the edge off the anxiety, and they helped but now I'm not medicated anymore.

During the pandemic, I had two autistic meltdowns that were not good and just overwhelming, but the game changer for me was when I realised and said I am going to control what I can control, but I need to let go and not stress about what I have no control over at all. And so, most days, my anxiety just melted away for long periods. Don't get me wrong I do have some black days every now and then, but now I talk to staff, a friend, or the doctor, and just feel so much better.

I’ve learned many techniques to manage my anxiety since the start of the pandemic. I volunteer in a woodland therapy group, get there an hour early, listen to the river and birds meditate and sometimes dip my bare feet in the river. It's so nice to hug a tree to ground myself.

I do 20 inverted press-ups two times a day and listen to music to raise my vibration, my incantations, my affirmations, and my bragging game to get myself pumped up which helps me a lot.

Sometimes on Mastermind, it's not always noticeable that I have a mare of a mental health day because sometimes I put on a brave face.

As some of you will know I have, in the past, broken down on Mastermind, feeling stupid and embarrassed, so thank you tribe that you all were supportive of me through everything.

Do you want to focus on what you do want in life versus what you don't want?


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