One of the things about brain injury, like with COVID-19, is that you need routine to function well. Yet when you access treatments, routines must change upon returning skills, changed talents, and increasing functionality. Sometimes finding a new therapy or new psychiatrist or psychologist means a disrupted routine and once again finding your way to a new one, even if it isn’t a better one. Rarely does a global shift change your routine! But that’s what COVID-19 has done to all of us. And the strange thing is that neurotypical people (to use the new vernacular) are as discombobulated as people like me. Measures to contain SARSCoV2 spread has plunged them into a state akin to sudden brain injury, violently disrupting their work, their home routines and isolating them from friends and family, as I wrote on Psychology Today.
It’s less lonely now neurotypical people have joined me in my isolation boat. On the other hand, I’m again faced with having to relearn to walk, so to speak, for the third time; find a new routine; and adapt to a changed life. I am finding the stress growing; if this change didn’t come with so many benefits, I’d be heartily fed up. I am, actually, fed up with having to relearn how to exit my house and go for a walk. This time it’s not because of physical limitations like the brain injury then eye surgery. This time it was imposed upon me by SARSCoV2 spread and stupid people not listening to Toronto’s mayor to stay the fuck home and keep 2metres apart, thus creating a very high risk of me contracting COVID-19 if I did go out.
After Easter, I noticed that, yes, people were finally physically distancing, even the blithely ignorant who had told me shortly after lockdown that since they were healthy, they didn’t have to physically distance.
Yesterday, after discussing it with my CNIB orientation and mobility trainer and neurodoc, and pondering and pondering, I ventured out for a short walk. I even went to a cafe with an outdoor pickup window where there were zero people, to grab a mocha latte and pastries. As my neurodoc said, it would be good for my joie de vivre and to inspire me. My CNIB guy was pithy about the stupid out there but gave guidance on how to physically distance from them. Luckily, the few I saw were equally wary of fellow humans carrying COVID-19.
I think it’ll be awhile before I venture out again, though. And I’m going to have to figure out how to get my magnesium and other missing nutrients from the pharmacy because it’s too risky, still, for me to go inside a store.
Meanwhile, I’ve begun adjusting to the world slowing down to my speed, from having greater energy resources with all my medical and social appointments cancelled, from being emotionally freed from riding the TTC gauntlet multiple times per week, to enjoying the fruits of everyone being in isolation, ie, free concerts, plays, virtual appointments (finally!!!), virtual community meetings — all the things that society and individuals had said they weren’t going to do, weren’t going to pay for, didn’t see the need for because it would only have benefitted people with disabilities, and it was just “too difficult.” Amazing how it isn’t difficult now! Until COVID-19, society may have done a few inclusive things, but still did not understand that inclusivity and accessibility benefits everyone in all areas of life. When you allow everyone to join in by offering virtual options, life improves for neurotypical people, too. Like elevators in the TTC were installed only for people in wheelchairs, parents with strollers, people laden with groceries, people with walkers and canes, tired people find them essential now. Those elevators are packed and used.
Benefits of Being in a Pandemic
The first benefit for me is my photography. I had a problem: I hadn’t bought enough chocolate before lockdown to last into the summer. Eek! Luckily, Soma Chocolate called out on Twitter that they were still in business and would provide free delivery in Toronto. Forgetting all about monetary woes, I burdened my credit card. Out of the emotional stress-relief of having chocolate in the house and the sheer pleasure of my first single-origin chocolate tasting opportunity, came image creation. For years and years, I’ve missed my photography and image creation. But the energy suckage of appointments, dealing with an increasingly less-accessible TTC, having to live independently without proper support, meant I had nothing left over to take photos, or if I took them, to work with them. Now, suddenly, without those drains, I can!
And chocolate was my impetus to get back into a long-lost pleasure.
To open the next bar, create an image of the bar I just ate and post it.
Bribery makes for wonderful motivation.
Second, I began writing posts for Psychology Today on how brain injury experience can help people suffering shock from COVID-19. Four posts so far!
- COVID-19 Welcomes the World to Brain Injury-Type Isolation
- Sleep Solutions for COVID-19 Pandemic Nights
- Stressed in the Age of COVID-19
- Pondering Good Friday’s Message in the Time of COVID-19
Third, I changed my Patreon purpose to “use it as a way to share what I’ve learned to help the millions around the world confined to their homes, surrounded by an unseen microscopic enemy, wondering when they will be let out and how to cope, sleep, thrive until then.”
A pandemic. Physical Distancing. Social Isolation. Social Connection. New terms, the last three old hat for people with brain injury. I’ve begun blogging on Psychology Today about how to cope. And I’ve begun a new research experiment into the anxiety-reducing effects of gamma-brainwave entrainment at home. Please consider supporting me in these endeavours.Visit my Patreon to support my endeavours! Start at only $1 per month. A barely noticeable amount on your ledger with a huge push of encouragement for me.
And fourth, I’ve begun experimenting with gamma brainwave audiovisual entrainment. I’ve created a research project and will be posting my progress on here. This is happening only because of COVID-19.
I’m rolling around in my head a novel I’ll post online, one I wrote in 2014 on Twitter. I’m slowly making my way back to it, though I’m hung up on the tech how-to side.
I’m also considering an idea for brain-injury awareness month in June. I remain disappointed in the efforts organizations put out and the blip that barely registers on anyone’s radar. Maybe the COVID-19 pandemic will provide an opportunity to up everyone’s radar signal!
And lastly, I remain stumped on how to encourage my readers to become superfans. How to make my readers like the SARSCoV2 that uses the power of transmission, to transmit my books from one human to two to four to eight, and so on? Superfans demand their friends and their families go out and buy my books. They won’t lend books; they tell others, “Go! Buy!!” Fans review on Goodreads and Amazon and where they bought the books! That’d be sweet. So I’m watching Smashwords Author Education Day.
Suffering provides opportunity.
What opportunities are you seeing as you physically distance and stay home?