Like many people around the world, 2021 was the worst year of my life… And that’s saying something! My only hope 2022 is that it isn’t as bad.
Speaking to many able bodied last year I was struck by the amount of fear, stress, confusion, anguish and uncertainty they were all feeling. it struck me that for the first time able bodied people seem to be feeling the same type of feelings that those of us with health issues have daily, only on a global scale.
It is regrettable that it takes a global pandemic for people to begin to comprehend what people like me must learn to live with every day of our lives. I truly wish it didn’t have to be so.
Things like worrying about the future, fearing what lays ahead, afraid and confused by all that’s happening. Anxious about going out into the world, feeling cut off and estranged from others, isolated and lonely. These are all the things that many autoimmune sufferers live with on a daily basis, and very rarely is it ever recognised.
Another common theme emerging from the past two years is that people have come to miss some of the most fundamental things to our human needs; the need to touch.
The importance and significance of being able to hug, hold, shake hands and touch each other is taken for granted until something like a global pandemic occurs and we are forced to keep our distance physically and emotionally.
It was one of the most painful things that I experienced when I first became so unwell. Not being able to interact with people and feeling isolated at home I missed hugging, holding and all the little things that human contact once provided as I was confined to my home and suffering in pain.
Many autoimmune sufferers are home alone while their partners and families must continue on. Our pain must be endured alone and our loneliness becomes palpable. As many people now have realised the harsh realities of mental illness, depression and anxiety in the time of pandemic, very few realised the effects that were being felt for many years around the world in the autoimmune and chronically Ill sufferers.
The backlash from society of retaliation, anger, fear, stress and frustration at being denied many of the things they have had access to throughout their lives are familiar feelings for the chronically Ill. our lives, abilities, freedoms are taken away by our health and it is no less difficult for us.
Around the world people have lost their businesses, jobs, livelihoods and concern for what will happen to them financially has driven people to such pain and suffering and loss. It is a harsh reality for those of us who lost the careers and financial stability we once had, only for us we may never be able to have these things again.
Many autoimmune sufferers, like me, take immune suppressing drugs, steroids, chemotherapy drugs and more which places us in constant risk whenever we go anywhere or do anything outside our homes. As governments emphasise the risks that people are under from the Covid virus it is not as accepted by the healthier population in the same way it impacts the lives of the chronically Ill. Any virus or illness is a threat and a greater risk to those of us who have very little immunity to withstand it.
The greatest toll this pandemic has taken has been on our elderly who have lowered immunity and the chronically Ill or immune suppressed but these numbers are not often regarded as significant by the able bodied. I am not suggesting that healthier people have not also suffered from Covid infections but I believe the mortality rates are much lesser than those who have compromised immune systems.
Feeling isolated, fearful, stressed, alone, confused and suffering is nothing new for autoimmune sufferers and it is immensely sad that it takes something like a global pandemic for healthier people to experience some of the difficulties that we have lived with for years and even decades. If some good can come from such things I hope that we as people will learn new empathy for the chronically Ill and gain insights into our daily battles that have never been seen before and perhaps the world will be able to appreciate the little things, the freedoms and the lives that they had been taking for granted for so long.