Rather strangely, I’ve liked the freedom of lockdown. How ironic; the very thing that has put restrictions on everyone else is making me feel less restricted. My life is my own in lockdown. My energy expenditure spent on things for me and only me. If I have a visitor calling in for half an hour at set time in the afternoon, my whole day has to be centred about commitment. Even if that visitor is only dropping something off or popping in for half an hour. Now none of that can happen. My days are free. But as hard as it’s been to hear the masses complain about a life at home that I have taught myself to savour and cherish, people are losing their lives to this virus and the inadequacies of our government are too many to list.
On my Good Days I’ve been able to risk baking, for example, because I know there is nothing else I need to do this week or next. In March I even got my sewing machne out. I have only been able to use it twice since then but that’s more than I could risk doing before lockdown, when my energy was needed elsewhere.
Most notably, for the first time in a decade I’ve been on the same page as everyone else; universally confined and restricted through no fault of their own. Missing out on birthdays and holidays and exams and all the things we chronically ill individuals have missed out on anyway, only this time, even if our health had cooperated, we would have missed out on them because of lockdown.
Running alongside this though, I’ve also felt further removed from society because, despite accessible measures being put in place, I still haven’t been able to access them. Group video calls anyone? Goodness me they’re very taxing for me. With lovely initiatives like that to try to lessen the isolation, I’ve felt like I still don’t/can’t fit because more often than not I’m still not well enough to join in. My friends have been doing amazing Sunday night Zoom quizzes and I’ve only made it to two despite lockdown having lasted 14 weeks.
But there has undoubtedly been more empathy, kindness and understanding from society in these past months than there had been in the years before. Bearing in mind I’ve had incredible support from my family since being unwell, lockdown has allowed that support to reach a new level. My sister and my cousins had a socially distanced garden get together recently. I couldn’t go because I can’t drive that far or share a car with anyone outside of my own household. And I’m still shielding myself away as much as possible. The virus still poses the exact same risk of relapse to me, even as lockdown regulations ease off. But my sister dropped off a party plate and napkin for me to join in from home! They video called me for 15 minutes so I can be a part of it. I’m hoping this kind of loveliness filters through to become normal when life returns to near-normal in the future.
I have felt so many feelings and emotions in response to seeing the world suddenly become more accessible (in some ways) knowing that Disability Advocates had campaigned tirelessly for such changes, before the pandemic hit, but with no luck. Suddenly, now that people outside of the Disability community need access to education or to be able to work from home, it’s absolutely possible to put those measures in place. Did we not matter as much when we asked for such things? We know the answer is a resounding “No, we didn’t”.
And let’s not talk about the Great Grocery Delivery Slot Saga. As someone who has relied heavily (but not solely) on supermarket deliveries it has been a huge source of stress and concern. Thank goodness for the kindness of friends who added our shopping list to their own order. There have been people who have been reliant on grocery deliveries so years and years who’ve suddenly been unable to get a delivery slot. They’ve been told to call supermarkets to register as Disabled, even if they’re not necessarily more at risk to covid-19. Some have been successful. Some haven’t. Some are simply too unwell or unable to make those very phonecalls. It’s been hard to see, that even as new measures are put in place, we are at the bottom of the heap yet again.