Content note: This post is about the coronavirus pandemic, and also mentions suicidal ideation. If that’s not your jam, no worries! Read some older posts or come back soon, and keep up with me on Twitter if you want to know when I next post!
I haven’t wanted to write about the novel coronavirus pandemic. I haven’t wanted to cash in on that sweet, sweet SEO while people have been dying, separated from their families, scared and in pain. I haven’t wanted to remind y’all of how dire things have been, still are, might yet get. I haven’t wanted to speak out of turn, being a sex blogger and an English student and not a medic or epidemiologist or anything else relevant.
But I’ve reached the Fuck-It Point now, so I’m writing about the fucking pandemic.
It has knocked me for six. I am super privileged in that I haven’t had to shield (though my mum has) and I’m at a fancy-bitch university that was already prepared to take action. There are lots of ways in which coronavirus could have ruined my life, and it hasn’t. But it has ruined my life in two very big ways.
The first is that it has absolutely annihilated the limited sense of safety I had when navigating the world. There’s a one-way system in most shops now that makes me fear the telling-off I might get when I autistically wander off and accidentally violate the rules. Everyone looks to be on their guard and that unsettles me. The only thing that unsettles me more is the idea that the government was and is willing to send people out into education and the workforce in the name of “herd immunity”.
Knowing that the government would let me die for the sake of their bottom line is not news to me, as a trans, autistic, mentally-ill person. Seeing them be so brazen about it, though, and watching them send small children back to school now as tiny, adorable sacrificial lambs to see whether it’s a good idea to open things up or not, that’s terrifying. If they’re brave enough to send PR-friendly little people onto the firing line, what the fuck is next?
The other, more obvious way that this pandemic has ruined my life is: all my plans have been cancelled. Yes, yes, I know, like every other motherfucker on Earth, except – I’m autistic. I don’t like change. Plans changing suddenly makes me feel ill. I spent all of January and February getting my brain ready for Eroticon in March, and then found that the organisers had (rightly, responsibly) cancelled the event. I had outfits planned and a workshop timetable written up and the same hotel as last time booked for the same number of days. And then it was cancelled, and I sobbed.
Eroticon is an exceptional example because, in some ways, I put too many eggs in that basket. When booking my tickets last summer, before anyone could have possibly predicted a global pandemic, I told myself, “Well, now I’ve gotta stay alive ’til March!” and took it as a challenge. It would be rude to kill myself when I’ve already bought a ticket, after all. But its cancellation, amid increasing disruption to my uni life, kicked the wind out of me. It seemed like the universe was recommending I kill myself so strongly that it was also killing tens of thousands of other people, as collateral. I cried a lot about how I had caused the coronavirus pandemic, until I could be convinced to phone my psychiatrist.
I miss seminars. Sorely, sorely miss them. I miss seeing my mum. I miss dropping in on my girlfriend and her cats at a moment’s notice. I miss Pick’n’Mix and loitering in Primark with people who are also game to make fun of their products and by God I miss nights out. (I have already planned my outfit for my first night out after lockdown. It involves a very slutty dress, and Doc Martens, for dancing my absolute tits off. Y’all are gonna love it.) There are so many things I feel robbed of, and the autistic six-year-old who still lives in my brain has spent a lot of time reminding me that “It’s not fair!”
But of course it’s not fair. We live in a world where human lives are treated with less respect than the invisible numbers that make up the stock market. Avoidable deaths are happening everywhere. People are going bankrupt. This pandemic has been more unfair on other people than it has been on me.
And yet! Here I am, complaining! Because I want to remind you that “Other people have it worse” is not the same as “I have it great”. Because I want to tell other autistic people that they aren’t suffering with all this disruption alone. Because, God damn it, I deserve to vent, without explaining myself, just because my feelings are real and valid and eating me alive. I plan to vent more with angsty poetry and singing too loud in the shower, but this was my public vent. Because this pandemic fucking sucks for all of us.
The pandemic and subsequent lockdown that’s going on right now means that I’ve lost a lot of work opportunities (because every other fucker at my agency is snagging jobs before I can). If you want to help me out, please do consider buying me a coffee or commissioning transcripts or captions from me!