I am the Disability Advocate in the main office at Access- writing during the midst of a global pandemic that has brought our world- in many ways to a grinding halt.
We have closed our doors at Access but we are still able to help with some things, we are available by phone and email. We recognize that it is limited but we are doing our best until the province lets us know that we can resume. It will be different, we’re not sure how, but it will be different. In the meantime, we want you to know that we are with you.
Our clients tend to be those who have tough lives already. My clients in particular struggle with disabilities- but there are many struggles that people deal with. There is poverty and a lack of affordable housing. There are lots of minimum wage jobs that are typically part- time and never enough to pay the bills. Part time work means no benefits, so those who are sick are often burdened as well with the cost of medical supplies and prescriptions.
Add to the mix a global pandemic. Add to that some fear based hoarding that caused a shortage of fundamental products. Add to that non-essential businesses and schools being closed- challenging parents to homeschool their children. Add to that the stress of not being able to socialize or take your kids to the park. Add to that the time commitment to get groceries and the fear connected with being in public, social distancing and multiple news media publications that jangle the nerves and leave us feeling more vulnerable than ever before; for ourselves, our parents and grandparents, our children, for those whose immunity is compromised in one way or the other, for the disabled… It is a scary time…
Some have said that COVID-19 hasn’t directly impacted most of us- at least not in reported illnesses, but it has had a huge impact on our sense of feeling safe in the world. It has impacted the face of our communities, it has impacted our ability to access goods locally. It has impacted our sense of freedom. Many working folks have felt that if they had the time at home, they could sort, they could clean, they could learn, they could do all kinds of things. In fact, many of us are surprised by the little we’ve actually been able to accomplish.
A global pandemic is in many ways a traumatic event. And let me tell you that it is not realistic to expect anyone to process the impact of a traumatic event when they are in it. Only once we feel safe, and it will take a while for that to happen, will it then become safe for us to look back and to examine our feelings and behaviours.
Fear is such a difficult emotion to process, it shows up in so many different ways- it may look like aggression, anger, withdrawal, isolation, crying, panicking, catastrophizing, or even denying.
I encourage you to be curious about how you are dealing with this event- and to experiment. It takes work to find balance- it takes effort to stay calm…
We cannot control this pandemic. But we can try to sort out how we can take care of ourselves.
We have never been so alone together…
By Sam Lucier-Disability Advocate