In the first of our posts for the Coronavirus: Autistic Voices series as part of #LeedsForAll, Eric, an autistic student based in Leeds, talks about his experience during the pandemic. Here is what he has to say:

My name is Eric Mitchell, I’m 19 years old and, of course, I have Autism. This is my written experience of how much I’ve changed during the COVID pandemic. I prefer doing video blogs but in this instance since I could have a lot to say it’s probably easier writing.

I feel like I almost lived a better life before the first lockdown happened. I’ve been staying inside a lot and haven’t been able to go out as much, other than when things got better for a short amount of time.

The biggest thing that’s happened to me is that I’ve developed what could be near to depression. I was watching gig footage from one of my favourite artists, and I thought that it’s funny how it gets more intense towards the end. This is when I had a flashback to a horrible memory of when I was a kid. I used to like a video/DVD (I won’t mention it) which had such a wonderful and hypnotic feel to it, but before the credits began rolling it got intense to the point the finish was so incoherent to the rest of the DVD it made me feel uncomfortable.

I was able to move on and completely forget about it until the pandemic. I looked it up online, and I literally found exactly what I was thinking about. I caught butterflies in my tummy and I was depressed for another 5/6 days. To this day (21/11/20) I am still looking it up and I can’t get it out of my head. Most of the time when I am spending the whole day indoors, this is when I begin looking it up and repeating the same part over and over again.

Whenever I talk to my dad, I sound very shy. He once said that because I’m in the house the whole time I’m not myself. I never really notice myself change until people mention it.

The good thing is every weekend my dad will give me a drive out. I love car rides, even if the weather is bad or there isn’t much to see. He’s driven me around Ilkley Moore, over the Pennines and so on. There have been so many instances in which I have seen views that are like that of what I made up in my dreams.

I am looking to become a musical artist, and I have been constantly writing songs from the top of my head. One of them is about my dad’s car rides!

I have also written a lot of poems around so many different topics.

So really it’s a mixed experience. I am looking forward to being able to see my friends again, going out more and so on. I’m used to this environment now but I would rather live life as it should be.

Thank you very much for reading this!