My life is based on a lot of routine. I have to stick to routines to keep myself healthy and stop my disability getting worse.
Before the lockdown, I went to work, came home in the evenings, and only went out on weekends. I was already being restricted on a normal day-to-day basis. But because I’m now not going out at all, this situation has really isolated me.
Routines restrict me but now I feel more trapped
I have a muscle wasting condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy, which means my muscles have literally wasted away since I was a child. I also have scoliosis in the spine, so my back’s not straight and I need to be in my powered wheelchair all the time.
Because my spine is curved, I have weak lungs and am prone to chest infections. So, if I was to catch a cold or flu, it could lead to pneumonia if not treated.
This obviously makes me more at risk from Coronavirus, and like everyone, I’ve been in isolation since the lockdown began.
It’s been quite difficult. I already felt trapped by my routines due to my disability, but now I’m even more trapped because I can’t go out. So I can’t really do anything.
Some people say, “you can go to the park!” But what if I need to go to the toilet? Where do I find the disabled loos? Before, you had pubs, restaurants and places you could pop in, but now you can’t.
It’s very isolating. It gets difficult when you get bored too, because I don’t always know how to keep myself occupied.
For me, social interaction is really important. Being able to meet and talk to people. Without that, I find it difficult. You can feel quite lonely.
Missing social interaction and benefits of work
I’m lucky I can work from home, which is great. But I miss the social benefits.
Working from home for me has been very positive, simply because I’m able to do everything that I can do at work. But for me, work is also about being amongst people and, when you’re working from home, you’re not able to be in that environment where you’re socialising as well.
And I think socialising really helps. It helps a lot of people being able to communicate in person. When you’re working from home, there is that bit you’re missing.
That’s probably the most challenging aspect for me.
At a time like this, try and keep your colleagues motivated
As a manager, I’ve been contacting my staff members regularly, trying to keep them upbeat. Obviously if I’m feeling low, then I realise other people must be feeling that way too, so I try to motivate others, as well as staying motivated myself.
You must think of others and try to communicate with them as much as you can. It’s tough, but try and keep people as focused as possible.
It really is a difficult time for everyone. I think staying positive and thinking of others, keeping each other motivated and offering that social support and interaction is key to everyone maintaining good mental health right now.
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