• PerthAutismSupport

Open Letter to Coronavirus

So a wee change from our usual types of post but as we are in Mental Health Awareness Week, we felt this was a true reflection of how we are all feeling at PAS.

The Coronavirus pandemic has affected us all, and all of our mental health has been impacted. Whilst we should take the positives when we can, it’s also important to recognise and accept the challenges we are all facing.

Lynsey, our Family Support and Transitions Service Manager has written a poignant open letter to Coronavirus that eloquently describes how she feels about the impact the pandemic has had on her ability to do her job, and we know Lynsey has managed to put in to words how the whole team feel, the frustration that has impacted us all from doing our day to day work. The work we all love so much and get so much from.

Dear Coronavirus,
It is has been about 3 months since you arrived. Your presence was only felt slowly at first but can I assure you the lasting impact you are going to leave will be significant. Today I feel angry at you Coronavirus because it feels like you have robbed me from my job. A job that I love and I am usually passionate and motivated about.
When a family is on the phone and they are telling you how difficult things have been last night and for the night before that and 7 weeks of nights before that, it is hard not to take on their emotion and feel their pain.
When you hear the panic in the voice of a parent who is beside themselves with worry about how they are going to get through that day to then be overwhelmed by a tsunami of more fear about how long this is going to go on and when will they be able to get more support.
To read an email of parent who is exhausted but is looking for some ideas about how to deal with a behaviour. And you know that what you are asking them to do has a cost. An emotional cost which is expensive when they are already hugely overdrawn on their emotional bank account.
I think in the past I have always been able to manage that uncomfortable emotion of other people’s pain by thinking about what we can do to make things slightly better. To think of a strategy or a solution. To problem solve an issue or to help someone understand why something might be happening.
To be solution focused.
So why is it so difficult since you showed up Coronavirus? Now instead of that passion, I feel the full whack of that despair, anguish and turmoil. If I am being really honest at times I feel out of answers. And I feel exhausted at having to think through every aspect of every area of every part of my job (and my life).
Since you arrived in full force it feels like I am trying to do my job with my hands tied behind my back. To fight a battle without my armour, shield or sword. To hear the pain of others and yet stay behind a laptop feels alien and worse of all it feels like I am letting our parents and young people down.
I realise that my way of dealing with the discomfort of their pain is to say, I will help. To say we are here, you are not on your own, there is hope, there is a reason to be optimistic for the future. To say we know what can help. But that script is now needing rewritten which, for now, leaves me speechless. I know Coronavirus you won’t last forever but it doesn’t mean the pain of you being here now isn’t painful. It is painful in a way I have never felt before. To help without being able to do what is needed to help is so disempowering.
But this is not the full story.
Coronavirus although you might be causing havoc everywhere you go, you are also teaching us and helping us see the things we should not have taken for granted.
I realise how supportive it is seeing someone face to face and spending time with them. To listen to their story, to share their worries, to discuss and to think together.
I realise how I miss the noise, banter, laughter from the young people. The smile they put on my face when I hear them say something funny.
I realise I miss the joy I feel when I see someone achieve a new goal.
I realise that our families are some of the most resilient people I know.
I realise how important that break is for families when our young folk come along to activities. How this space allows parents to breathe, to gather themselves together for the next thing and how this allowed them to be best the parent they could be.
I realise how valuable the space we create in PAS is for parents to come together to learn and share stories.
I realise what an amazing, positive and courageous staff team we have who set a culture of can do.
I realise how much energy and creativity I get from others I work with.
I realise how I need this job to give me purpose and to feel like I have made a difference.
So coronavirus I just want you to know I am feeling your pain just now but I am holding on to those things you have helped me see with new eyes because I hope once you have gone, I will never take them for granted again.

We will hear the laughter again, we will share the highs and lows face to face and get out from our houses and laptops back to the young people and families we love working with, this will pass. For us all.

Thank you for sharing Lynsey, you, like our families, are not alone...


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