Tag Archives: isolation

Unlocking – The Realities

Covid-19: The UK Government's Communications Own Goal

I am continuing to reflect on why I am finding coming out of lockdown and shielding much harder that I found being in it.

When we were all locked down, there was a huge element of ‘all being in it together’. No one could go anywhere (that was not medical or food shopping), because there was nowhere else to go. That fact that my illness and disability means that I could not go out made little difference, because no one could. I was no longer ‘missing out’ on anything, because everyone was. There was nothing really to miss out on. Though I realise it must have been far more frustrating for the able bodied with energy to burn and social contacts and hobbies to maintain.

(I am acutely aware that many people did have to continue going to work to keep what was needed in society going, who could not choose, or be instructed to stay at home. They had to go out, risked their lives doing so – and I am incredibly grateful to them.)

There was much talk at the time among the chronically ill community about how now everyone knew what it was like for us being stuck at home pretty much all day every day, relying only on the internet for social interaction. Hopefully that part of the experience that will be remembered.

Then as lockdown began to ease, places began to open, possibilities were there again. And along with the dilemmas coming out of shielding brought, were the knock backs.

As other people begin to return to A Normal, came the whole new realisation that I was left out again, remembering how isolated life with chronic illness can be. Things are happening that I cannot go to, however much I want to. In the online support that had grown, even if just in text messages or social media posts, people are missing because they have gone to find their new normal. I absolutely do not begrudge them that, they have lives to be getting on with and I would be if I could, society has to get back to some way of functioning – but it is beginning to make a massive difference to those of us ‘left behind’.

It is a reminder, if I needed it, of what I am excluded from, what I miss, what I can no longer do. None of this is helped by the fact that my health has deteriorated, unrelated to lockdown, but concurrent with it. I cannot even begin to return to my normal, because my normal is a different, lower, level now. But even if I could, the risks of coronavirus feels too risky for some of what I might have been able to enjoy before, like a trip to a coffee shop, unless I can sit outside away from a crowd.

So, all power to those who are finding a way to get back to some kind of life. I genuinely am delighted, but please don’t forget those of us whose lifestyle and restrictions you had a glimpse of for a few months. We are not your responsibility, and you should not feel bad for living what life you can again.

But perhaps there are some lessons that have been learned that can be carried onwards:

  • remember something of what it was like to be stuck at home with nowhere to go
  • remember the connections you made and don’t leave them behind,
  • remember all those useful tools you have discovered that enable people to connect with what is happening from wherever they are and continue to use them with those still locked at home.

Meanwhile, I have to find again, the value and worth of my restricted life, outside of what everyone else is, or is not, doing. And I am very grateful to all those who are a part of my world and the life that they can get on and live.

Top Tips for Isolation

I realise I never shared my top tips here – in case they help anyone in this difficult time.  All gained from 15 years with a debilitating illness that keeps me home most of the time. And as someone who is in the ‘shielding’ category, to remind myself when I am beginning to forget them.

As shared on the brilliant website of my friends (lots of other helpful stuff on there too – do take a look)

  • Keep in touch
  • Don’t make all your contacts from within your “tribe” – see other perspectives
  • Always have something life enhancing in your day
  • Still eat as healthily as you can
  • Get whatever exercise you can

– and don’t turn on the TV before lunchtime!

Hope they help!  Stay safe

The Isolation of Chronic Illness

This is a processing post.

I was thinking this morning how long it is since I’ve seen an actual human being.  Then began to think back over how many I have seen in the last 10 days – it was less than five.  If you take out my family it was two – and one of them was my GP!  The other was a faithful friend who ‘gets it’ and knows how much I value contact.

You see, the problem with chronic illness is you can’t go out much.  You can’t think ‘I fancy doing’ and go and do it.  You can’t meet people for lunch, pop to the pub, go and mooch round the shops, or many other everyday activities – not easily and as a regular occurrence anyway.  You don’t reliably have the energy/someone to go with you to make it possible/the resources etc etc…  The actual wherewithal to just get out of the house may not be possible.  You can’t plan ahead because who knows if you’ll be having a good day or a bad day.  And actually once you get somewhere, you can’t stay long anyway!  Today, in desperation, I thought perhaps I’ll just take my book to the park to read for a change of scene.  But once I thought through if I could make it there, I remembered there probably wouldn’t be a seat comfortable enough for me to sit on.  I could take my own, but unless I want to sit in the car park, I’d have to carry it.  Hmmm… (and I know I’m lucky in that I can get out for brief excursions sometimes)

If you are ill with, for example, a cold or a broken leg it is for a short time.  You feel too ill to see anyone or do anything and when you’re better you’re back up and at ’em; or you can amuse yourself, because after all, we all crave some rest, or have a box-set we’ve been desperate to have time to watch.  If you have a chronic illness, that goes on and on.  You continually cannot do what you want to.

Another aspect is that if you are, perhaps, in hospital, or ill at home for a time, people come to see you.  It is an abnormal event and people come to sympathise and cheer.  People cannot continually do that if you are chronically ill.  They cannot be expected to.  It is not an abnormal event but how life is.  Everyone is busy in their own life, they see lots of people day in day out – probably too many, and peace is what is craved.  And to be honest, though lovely to see them, sometimes even the effort of someone coming to see you is just too exhausting – it’s a vicious circle.

It’s also difficult to know if someone with chronic illness is ‘more ill than normal’, because you don’t always see them around anyway!  So how can anyone know that a situation needs responding to?

All of which adds to an isolated and isolating situation.

I don’t have any answers.  I guess I’m just waving a bit of a flag.  Does anyone else have any answers or suggestions?  I know it must be much worse for others.