Today’s guest post is from Ben who is a member of Paul’s Place, a charity, based in South Gloucestershire, just outside of Bristol. Ben shares how he has adapted his life to cope with Covid-19 lockdown and the restrictions that he is facing as a disabled person.
Paul’s Place enhances the lives of adults with a physical, sensory or visual impairment. Their vision is to ensure that all people can live their life to the full. The charity does this via a number of initiatives including their day facility which runs a wide variety of activities for the people they support and their carers. There also provide day trips, short breaks and holidays for both disabled adults and their carers.
Ben’s story | Adapting to life during lockdown
I thought that I would write a little bit about how I’ve been finding ways to cope during this lockdown time. So, I’ve had a think about what has helped me over the past few weeks.
I think we all have different experiences of the lockdown as some of us are able to go out for walks whilst others can’t go out very much at all. Some have gardens, some don’t, some live with family or in places with carers around and others live alone.
I live in a community with Personal Assistants (PA’s) coming in. My mum (my only family around) lives an hour away. She’s 75 so I’ve not been able to visit her for weeks now as it’s too risky for her. This is very hard to deal with.
I can go out for walks with my walker frame and PAs take me on a short drive sometimes. But they can’t come into the house now as the people I live with have decided it’s too risky to have people in.
So far, we have stayed virus-free, but it’s hard not having my PAs in my room helping me. I must admit it has at times all felt very hard to cope with. I’m diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum which means unplanned change can feel very, very difficult for me.
Within two weeks into lockdown, my whole weekly routine and everyone I see regularly on certain days of the week had gone. Just like that, everything changed.
So, I’ve needed to find ways to cope. And with support from my autism team and Paul’s Place, I’ve found things that help to make each day, each week easier. Here are some things that have helped me:
Especially WhatsApp, messaging people, sharing jokes, sharing encouragements, and, very importantly for my mum FaceTime. I have been FaceTiming her every day so we can see each other and know we’re okay. The same goes with a few close friends, it’s important to stay in touch.
Facebook has also helped stay in touch with people and of course – Zoom! It is a great tool for group meet-ups, arranged by Paul’s Place. Never before have I appreciated social media so much!
Embrace new routines
I’ve always used and needed a visual daily timetable I can follow. I’ve needed to create a new one pretty quickly to help me cope and feel calm. This has really helped me. I might have on my timetable “sit in the garden, do some drawing, go for a walk” and this has given me a new predictable routine.
I’ve tried to stick to my usual routine with meals and food I used to eat pre lockdown. So that not everything is different. And it has helped me to stay as healthy as possible.
Avoid fake news
I try to avoid looking at too much coronavirus news or negative social media. This can feel very overwhelming and not all news is reliable on social media. So, I’m careful to just stay updated with BBC, ITV, Radio 4 news and avoid the rest!
Focus on positivity
Then I try to focus on happy positive things like my beautiful garden, the sweet budgies I’m looking after for a friend, and looking forward to things getting back to normal!
Asking for help
I’m getting better at asking for help if I need it. As men, we can feel pressured by society at times to always be strong and not to be vulnerable or not admit that we are struggling. Even though, there is absolutely nothing wrong whether you are male or female in asking for help and being vulnerable.
Men can also really struggle with their mental health. This isn’t a weakness. To ask for help is courageous. These are very tough times and it’s ok to say, ‘please can you help’. I’ve reached out to people I live with, to friends, to my autism support team and that has helped so much. Not to suffer in silence but to reach out.
Finally, I’ve been creative. Whether it’s drawing, gardening, baking, colouring-in, singing, listening to music or gaming, it’s relieved my stress and it’s rewarding.
So that’s just a few of my lockdown survival tips. Overall, I try to remember that this is temporary, it WILL end and I’ll be back to my normal routine and once again going to Paul’s Place, playing Boccia and making others chuckle.
Author: Ben, Member of Paul’s Place (South West)
You May Also Enjoy
11 Simple Things Helping Me Stay Positive During Isolation
How to Stay Fit and Healthy During Lockdown With a Disability
Fun Things To Do During Self-Isolation | Resource List
7 Ways To Manage Your Mental Health When Self-Isolating