The New Normal
“Lockdown is the new normal”. I am tired of hearing this and this is not the new normal. I am autistic and I don’t like to socialize but that doesn’t mean I don’t like going out and moving beyond the confines of my home. Humans have a tendency to accept things that are continuously bothering them as normal. It is like the parrot born and brought up in captivity who feels the cage is their world. I am lucky that’s not the case with people on the spectrum or people who are disabled. We thrive for comfort and for change to make it easy and better for us. I have interacted with few people who are autistic, people who are fighting invisible disabilities, mental health issues, etc. and have learned that deep down they know they are different, things are not easy, something is poking them, irritating them and they don’t know what it is. They want an answer but are unable to get that and they continue to suffer in the hope that someday they will have some answer, some clarity. The neurotypical world has a lot to learn from the neurodiverse world. For example, the continuous struggle that one has to go through on a daily basis. It is the law of nature that anything that is disturbed will try and reach a level of rest, everything cant always be moving and need to rest. Same goes with our mind also, we cant always be functioning, we need rest. We thrive to reach that level of rest, some struggle through it, some reach that level easily and some have to fight their entire life for that. I crave for that form of rest, where I can be at peace, no more overstimulated senses, where I can let down my shoulders and feel the burden being lifted off them. The kind of rest that helps you sleep and wake up fresh. I wish I could feel that once in my lifetime. It is my city of Atlantis, it is lost but legend says it exists. As an autistic in India I have always hated public and socializing but that doesn’t mean I am all alone and don’t like to meet people. I am able to do that at my own pace and at my own convenience. That’s how I make friends, even if limited in number I still like that. On any regular day if someone asks me to go out to a family gathering, wedding, party, etc. my first reaction is to cancel the plan but that doesn’t mean I don’t like to go out. It happens because I am overstimulated in these places, so many people, a lot of touching, a lot of noise, it gets tiring. I miss my short walks, my rides in and around the city, meeting my friend, my fieldwork, etc. If this lockdown persists, many people like me will be too stressed to even function regularly. I can see a part of it happening and I fear if it continues it will turn really ugly for me. We, as a society, function at different levels but we all at some level crave human intimacy. This lockdown has on one side brought families close to each other while on the other it has caused a lot of stress in the life of many of these people. I wonder how long can I hold on.