Living with a balance disorder prepared me well for life in lockdown. On good days, I can manage my hearing loss, tinnitus, and the feelings of dizziness and instability. On bad days I have fatigue, ear and head pressure, vertigo, and sometimes difficulty with coordination which makes walking a challenge. On bad days, my body takes charge, and I am forced into lockdown; I have to stay indoors and rest, despite the plans I have made.
Self-isolation is a concept with which I am well-acquainted. I feel isolated in my illness which cannot be seen. I am an expert with having time with my thoughts. I am isolated by my hearing loss; I am alone with every missed word in conversation and the bewilderment in group discussions where overlapping voices amongst background noise make it impossible to follow. Yet, my experience of COVID-19 lockdown was a shared experience; I was isolated with my boyfriend and so wasn’t alone.
I am used to worrying about my health and not being in control. When I suddenly lost the hearing in my left ear, my life changed abruptly. I know the frustration of having freedom taken away from me and feeling helpless. I feel the desire to rebel against the situation.
Life has changed for me, and I am adapting. Being forced to stay indoors has helped me to re-evaluate my life; I am lucky to have days of hope, adventure, excitement, and creativity. For some with chronic illness, there is no relief from lockdown and self-isolation is all too familiar.
Lockdown and isolation for many are temporary. I hope, after experiencing the lockdown restrictions due to COVID-19, the world will show more understanding towards those for who lockdown shows no sign of easing, and that they will take joy from everyday routine tasks, if only because they have the ability and freedom to do them.