Regardless of age, lockdown left people faced with fears, worries and concerns about self-isolating and care. Two people share their experiences of life in lockdown, and what they are planning for the future.
NATASHA: Her decision to keep shielding
Natasha Coates is an elite disability gymnast with 22 British titles to her name. Prior to lockdown Natasha was training and living life as normal – as we all were.
However, diagnosed with a life-threatening condition called mast cell activation syndrome Natasha made the difficult decision of shielding the week before lockdown was officially announced due to the increasing cases of COVID-19.
“This was hard because events were still happening that week, and I felt disappointed that I had to miss out. However, I knew it wasn’t worth the risk,” emphasises Natasha.
“Like everyone, lockdown has had its highs and lows. I have spent a lot of time working on myself and doing things I didn’t have time to do before.
“It has been rather lonely though, it wasn’t too bad at the start as we were all in it together, but it’s definitely been harder over the past few weeks.
“As the lockdown is slowly lifting my friends are able to meet up with each other whereas I am still isolated; it wasn’t so bad when we were all in the same situation,” Natasha adds.
Facing feelings of loneliness during lockdown, Natasha, who is also autistic, has experienced heightened levels of anxiety and depression.
“Anxiety thrives on uncertainty and depression thrives on isolation,” explains Natasha.
“Nothing brings more uncertainty and isolation than lockdown during a global pandemic. I’ve struggled with anxiety mostly; a lot of my friends are key workers and I worry about their safety.”
Whilst in lockdown, Natasha has expressed that the change in routine has affected her autism, too,
Natasha says: “When I have a meltdown, I tend to go into flight mode which doesn’t work well when you can’t leave the house. I would usually go for a walk which hasn’t been possible.
“I have also seen an increase in meltdowns, I think mainly because all of my socialising now is online either via text or video chat. I find video chat hard work as I can’t read people as well and can easily misinterpret what is being said.
“I’m very blessed to have amazing friends who understand me and take the time to help me understand.”
As the world begins to reopen Natasha has made the decision to continue shielding. Having followed the science of the virus across the UK rather than concentrating on media coverage,
Natasha is committed to ensuring she makes the choices that will be beneficial for her health going forward.
“My biggest piece of advice would be to go at your own pace,” adds Natasha.
“I started off very slowly leaving the house, my first step was to just stand outside the front door, then followed by walking to the end of my drive.
“I know others who have gone straight out into shops and cafés and that is fine too. It’s all about doing what you feel comfortable doing and being kind to yourself.”
Moving out of lockdown, although still shielding, Natasha has enjoyed a slower pace of life taking the time to craft, read, and taking the opportunity to say no.
Going forward, Natasha is committed to ensuring she has more time to continue doing the activities and hobbies she enjoys – an attitude we can all take forward in future.
DAVID: Concerns for care
Living alone in sheltered accommodation, David, who is in his mid-80s, has a range of disabilities including a rare, neurological condition. Since the start of lockdown, David has been in his bedsit for 156 days and counting.
“It’s been very, very worrying,” reveals David about life in lockdown. “The social services immediately told me that they could only do the basics and I couldn’t get any extras.”
Whilst in lockdown, David faced restrictions from the level of care he could receive due to safety concerns, which has had a detrimental impact.
David continues: “Lockdown has made me restless and has placed a considerable amount of stress on me unnecessarily.
“More money needs to be put into social care. I never thought, after living 88-years in this country, that we would ever stoop this low. People don’t want to know about elderly and disabled people, it’s as simple as that. It’s very sad that it has come to this.”
Whilst in lockdown it was revealed that David’s level of care has been threatened due to funding cuts by the local authority because of the pandemic.
For David, and many other elderly members or disabled members of society, the fear whilst in lockdown has trickled out into the new normal. Even so, David is optimistic he will soon be able to go outside.
“I don’t mind wearing a face mask, but there are certain stores and organisations and businesses who have decided to adopt their own rules or interpretations of the guidelines making going outside more and more difficult for disabled people,” emphasises David.
In fact, one store in David’s town has announced they will not be able to accommodate wheelchair users because it will be challenging to adhere to social distancing.
In David’s experience of lockdown, it has resulted in reduced accessibility and inclusion for the disabled community.
“We must come to terms with reality and be realistic about the fact we are getting older,” concludes David.
Thankfully, David has found support from Age UK during lockdown with monthly calls, and the charity are committed to ensuring nobody is forgotten as lockdown lifts.
No matter your experience in lockdown, it is evident this year has shone a spotlight on the differences and inequalities in society.
We can only hope those who continue to shield for their health or people facing reduced levels of care are not left behind.
Share your lockdown diary with the Enable Community by emailing, email@example.com