Sheryl from A Chronic Voice, as well as sharing her own stories and lessons with chronic illness. Sheryl is an excellent support to other bloggers and writers living with illness and chronic pain. One such way is through monthly link-up parties whereby bloggers and writers share their stories through given prompts. This July, I have chosen to write about the parallels between chronic illness and a pandemic.
The recent events that have affected much of the world somewhat feel like a plotline from a film. What many of us are currently experiencing is slightly similar to what happens in the film ‘Contagion.’ Disclaimer, the first time I watched said movie; I silently thought ‘how far fetched! Never did I imagine that I would be living through such a pandemic, and watching it for the second time recently, it felt more like watching a documentary than a film.
The Parallels Between Chronic Illness & A Pandemic
The pandemic and subsequent lockdown have interrupted our lives; in fact, it has interrupted and affected every facet of our lives. It has pressed pause on life as we knew it, resulting in us scrambling for a new normal.
As time passes, I have begun to observe the parallels between living through a pandemic and living with a chronic illness. For example, both require you to make adjustments, as well as taking necessary precautions to keep well. Both interrupts and presses pause on life as we knew it. And both require finding a new normal; finding a new way to live when our life suddenly changes in all manner of ways.
“As time passes, I have begun to observe the parallels between living through a pandemic and living with a chronic illness. For example, both require you to make adjustments, as well as taking necessary precautions.” Click To Tweet
The Uncertainty Is Bothering Me!
The growing uncertainty surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic is starting to bother me. It is hard not knowing when it will end, or even what is or what is not safe. It is even more confusing when there is often such conflicting information from the government and the scientific experts. As well as the increasing uncertainty of what life will look like after it finally ends.
It is somewhat ironic that such uncertainty is bothering me so much. Why? Because living with a condition like FND, uncertainty is something that is a regular part of my life. Every night I go to bed, not knowing what sort of day I will experience. When living with a chronic illness, there are good days. And there are also awful days, where illness is the victor, leaving you defeated in a heap on the floor. Hell, often it is not even days, but often moments where life suddenly changes. The problem, however, is that when symptoms will abruptly emerge and disturbing our rare moment of peace is uncertain.
Living with a chronic illness, therefore, forces you to learn to be okay with uncertainty, as otherwise fighting it makes you even more unhappy. In time, you learn to enjoy and make the most of the good moments and take the bad moments as they happen.
I have learnt to be okay with uncertainty as it pertains to living with chronic illness. So, why am I having such a problem with it during the current pandemic?
The Demanding Relentlessness of Symptoms of FND
As of late, the symptoms that I experience as a result of FND have become particularly demanding. Often, it has felt that I am being tortured and persecuted by cruel and relentless symptoms. The pain confined to my legs has been tormenting. When the pain isn’t being problematic, I have been finding myself overwhelmed with dizziness. And many days of my legs being so weak that getting out of bed has been incredibly difficult. And has made getting around the house incredibly challenging.
As we slowly emerge from the lockdown measures imposed by the UK government, I too have emerged from my cocoon of isolation. The demandingness of such severe, relentless symptoms, however, have been unkind. As a result, emerging from my cocoon after so long, being cooped up inside has been more difficult than I had anticipated.
“As we slowly emerge from the lockdown measures imposed by the UK government, I too have emerged from my cocoon of isolation. However, emerging from my cocoon has been more difficult than I had anticipated.” Click To Tweet
Being diagnosed with a neurological disorder changes every facet of your life. It interrupts your life and the plans for the future in such a profound way that you can no longer recognise your life any longer. This pandemic has had such an effect; it has changed our lives so significantly. And for those of us living with chronic illness, it has altered our lives with them. Pauses in treatments and therapies have meant that many of us, symptoms have worsened, or the progress we had previously made is now lost.
Nourishing Stress and Anxiety With Self-Care
Many people have reported feeling stress and anxiety as a result of all the uncertainty surrounding the current Coronavirus Pandemic. It has never been more important to revel in self-care. Nourishing our well-being is important not only for our bodies but is also essential for our mind and soul.
The stress of this current global predicament is very much like the stress of living with a chronic illness. The uncertainty and the many unknowns of our future lives with a chronic condition also cause stress and anxiety. Self-care becomes vital for our quality of life as well as for increased functionality.
“The uncertainty and the many unknowns of our future lives with a chronic condition also cause stress and anxiety. Self-care becomes vital for our quality of life as well as for increased functionality. ” Click To Tweet
It has never been more critical, therefore, to look after ourselves; body, mind and soul.
Telecommunicating To Fight Isolation And Loneliness
Another parallel between chronic illness, and a pandemic is the isolation and loneliness that they both create.
Often for those living with such conditions missing out become a natural part of life. During the current pandemic and lockdown, it has become something that we all are experiencing. Unable to see friends and family is now something that we are all forced to live with, whether living with illness or not.
As a result, loneliness and isolation have become another consequence of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown. But something, those living with chronic illness, is all too familiar with, becoming another part of our daily life. Throughout the current pandemic communicating via Zoom or Skype has been a lifeline for many to keep in touch with our friends and family.
The symptoms I experience as a result of FND often make it extremely challenging for me to go out, and something I am unable to do alone. Consequently, attending support groups for those living with this disorder is extremely difficult for me. However, during the lockdown, I have been able to join in with such groups via Zoom. I have immensely enjoyed these chats and have become a lifeline in denouncing the loneliness and isolation I often experience.
Tolerating The Symptoms of FND As Well As Tolerating The Impact of Lockdown
Unfortunately, for many of us, there are symptoms that we experience that is seemingly immune to all potential remedies. No matter how many medications we try, or treatments we undergo the symptoms persist, seemingly irremediable, incurable.
There is nothing that we can do, therefore, other than to tolerate such persistent symptoms. It is a hard lesson that teaches us that we are not always in control of our lives; instead, other forces have such power, like that of a long-term health condition.
“For many of us, there are symptoms that we experience that is seemingly immune to all potential remedies. No matter how many medications we try, or treatments we undergo the symptoms persist, seemingly irremediable, incurable.” Click To Tweet
Neither do we have such control over anything related to the current global pandemic. There is nothing to do besides following the advice shared by our governments and the scientific and medical experts. Again, this has been a lesson that we do not always have full control over our lives. A situation that we cannot control, but instead only tolerate.
What other parallels between chronic illness and a pandemic can you think of? I would love to know your thoughts!