Cope with Lockdowns

16 Nov, 2020

I wanted to write this blog today as I woke up to the notifications that my region is back in the orange zone for COVID 19 restrictions.  First, I want to write my disclaimer I am not a trauma therapist, nor do I have a masters or am I speaking from a clinical place. This post is not for advice but simply to share my own experience and what has worked for me in hopes that it might help others. I will post some places to reach out should someone read this and feel that they would benefit from additional support.  This post comes from a place of my own journey and healing as both a survivor of sex trafficking and a service worker of the past 13 years.

First, to give some context, I have survived trafficking. My trafficking situations happened longer than 15 years ago. I am fortunate enough to have access to supports and trauma treatment that I have been engaged in for 7 years with many more to go I’m sure. One thing that never stops amazing me, is how my brain and body can continue to go back to places from earlier and life but also how both those things can repair with the right supports.

When COVID-19 brought lockdowns and restrictions on the day-to-day life I did not realize which ways it would impact me. I felt shaken  and scared for mine and my family’s health. I spent many days waiting in my room for test results at the beginning of the lock down away from my family and the freedom that I was so use to. I would imagine anxiety was raised for many folks as we navigated this new pandemic and these new restrictions. Now 8 months in and with the news of other potential lock downs I have a better understanding of what might come up for me and a new set of skills to navigate some of the things that bubble up. For me covid has brought to the surface some challenges related to  restrictions. Two things that I am aware of now, are the struggle I have with the experience of confinement and challenges with the need to comply with the rules and restrictions related to COVID-19.  I am sure many of you can make the connection here on how that might feel like trafficking. This brings up old feelings from my past experiences and can be a challenge to cope with.
I did want to share some things that have helped me during this time incase you or someone you know might struggle with some similar experiences. For me what I found helpful was reminding myself that I am not “locked down” that language felt like my ability to move freely was being restricted. Upon reflection there were lots of things that I could still do. I was able to be outside, I could go with my kids for a walk around my neighborhood and see new things.  I had the ability to play games, write, read, play music, sing laugh, connect with others virtually or create art. I found it helpful to remind myself of what I can do instead of what I couldn’t do in the moments when I felt too restricted.
Similarly, with the distress I felt around compliance was difficult constant reminders that the consequences of not complying are not  the same as they were earlier on in my life.  Some days I would remind myself multiple times a day.  I find it  difficult  sometimes, to be in the present moment  when I have big feelings. I also found colouring, playdough and other things I could touch to be helpful in moments. I can tell you when I was quarantining in my room, I thought, oh good ill have 14 days to clean  my room. I always thought my room was unclean before because I didn’t have the time, what I learned was that I didn’t have the capacity. When I am activated and struggling to regulate my emotions,  the functioning skills that I need to be able to understand steps to organizing or cleaning become very challenged. What works best for me is to “get back to basics” like shower if I can, rest as much as I can, lots of grounding exercises and teeny tiny goals like hey I wrote 10 things I’m grateful for today. 
For some I am sure that the lockdown may have kicked in the “need to do more” cycle and I think for a small period that happened for me. Now looking back on the past 8 months, and it seeming like  lock downs may come up again, I am grateful for what I have learned.

First steps for me in preparing is to reframe some of the language that I hear in the media. Instead of “lock down” I will choose to change the language to “rest time.”  I will chose to put on hold what ever I can ( as real life and capitalism will not be taking a rest I’m sure) I will empty my schedule, and go back to basics,  I will reach out when I need to and draw back to myself often. When days feel extra hard I will remind myself as my mama often says “this too shall pass.” 
I would really love to know what has helped you. I think its important to recognize we have all made it this far. There is something inside of each of us that has carried us through the first 8 months of this pandemic. I think we can all learn from each other and would love to know what skills worked well for you to cope during this time? Drop some things in the comments!
Everyone’s experiences of COVID can be different and sometimes you might need someone to reach out to for support. If you are experiencing a crisis and in need of support, please reach out to someone. Below is the link for 211 Ontario. There is a list of services to connect to there. If you are outside of the province or country a quick google search should connect you with services to support. If you need language or particular cultural or accessibility supports, 211 has a variety of supports.
If you or someone you know is currently being trafficked and are need of assistance you can contact the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking