The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of InQuire Media
Illustration by Armaan Latif
The COVID-19 lockdown restrictions are causing distress for everyone. People are unable to see friends and family, go shopping freely, or even sit in the park for longer than an hour. The quarantine is a huge inconvenience; but imagine you always lived this way because of chronic illness. Imagine if you were never able to go out freely and do the things you want. You can’t go out later because you have chest pain due to your Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (PoTS), your muscles are aching because of Fibromyalgia, and your Crohn’s Disease is giving you severe cramps.
The ‘lockdown’ lifestyle is how millions of chronically ill people live day to day, these sorts of regulations are part and parcel of their everyday lives. If someone with a chronic illness is experiencing a ‘flare’ up of their symptoms- ranging from abdominal pain, fatigue, nausea, and numerous other issues- they are physically incapable of going to the shop, seeing a friend or going to work. The fact that people are complaining about having a birthday in lockdown or being unable to go to the pub serves to highlight the temporary nature of the pandemic’s effect, yet the chronically ill will continue to experience this ‘lockdown lifestyle’ permanently.
Approximately 15 million people in the UK have a chronic health condition, so this is a large-scale issue, yet many conditions are still not given total recognition, despite individuals having remained vulnerable for years.
Adjustments which have been made for the population, such as allowing people to work from home, receive financial aid and extra support for the medically vulnerable, are all things that have really benefited the chronically ill community. Although this is a positive, it is something which they have previously needed every day.
A UKC student Rosie-Anne Zygo suffers from Fibromyalgia and Chronic fatigue and has benefitted from these adjustments. For Rosie-Anne, seminars being moved online is ‘an amazing thing’. However, many vulnerable students share Rosie-Anne’s worry that ‘this more accessible option won’t continue to be available when the lockdown ends.’
Kent Union’s Accessibility Network chair Philip Crocker has stated that he believes ‘people finally appreciate how difficult it can be to be isolated with a chronic illness/invisible disability’. He hopes that this quarantine period shines a light on the chronically ill is echoed by many in the community as they have always been ‘vulnerable’ yet largely ignored. Philip believes ‘the uptake in accessible methods of communication and education has been shocking… methods that had been resisted for years are suddenly implemented’.
Those affected by chronic illness include and are not limited to: PoTS Syndrome, Dysautonomia, Lupus, Arthritis, Crohns, Asthma, MCAS, IBS, ME/CFS, Fibromyalgia, MS, Cancer, Adrenal Fatigue, Diabetes, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Ulcerative Colitis, Cystic Fibrosis, Eating Disorders, Heart Disease, Depression, Anxiety, Epilepsy. This list is endless, yet these individuals have always remained strong in the face of adversity. This article is dedicated to those individuals who continue to fight for normality every day, pandemic or not.