Stuck indoors because of Covid-19?  Read on about how social distancing can affect those with chronic illness.

While many people are experiencing their first bout of social isolation because of the coronavirus pandemic, those living with chronic illness probably feel somewhat relieved that this is one aspect about the virus that isn’t as foreign to us. Living in North Carolina, summers can be pretty brutal, even for the most thermophile beings. In July and August, it’s normal for temperatures to soar above 100 degrees, making me choose indoor activities instead to stay safe. 

Now, with the coronavirus replicating like baby cockroaches on North Carolina driveways after a good rain, it’s time to pick indoor activities once again. For me, staying socially isolated isn’t that bad — I had a period of time when I was first diagnosed with POTS that I couldn’t leave the house at all for a few months because my life was physical therapy and (lack of) sleep. I’ve developed tools to deal with long periods of time by myself, like learning new hobbies. The part that bothers me about social distancing (which I prefer to call “physical distancing”), is that everyone thinks that because I have experience with staying at home, it must not bother me at all and therefore my struggles with isolation now are somewhat irrelevant compared to another person’s.

But here is the difference between the current situation and my previous time staying physically distanced from others: Everyone is in the same boat now. Suddenly, everyone wants to Facetime and try out group game nights on Zoom. People are checking in on each other and coming up with creative ways to stay sane during the quarantine. I check-in with my friends during this time because hey, this isn’t easy. I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve I think can help people who are having a hard time dealing with being at home 24/7 right now.

Yet there is some part of me, and it feels selfish, that feels a little bit of resentment against society. Why do I have to hide that I have POTS whenever I search for jobs or apply to schools because of possible discrimination? Workplaces and schools couldn’t possibly accomodate a day or two working from home every week because… well, that’s just not done and takes too much effort to coordinate when… wait, suddenly that’s all possible for most of the world within a week?

Or, everyone is suddenly checking in on each other and making sure they aren’t feeling too lonely. I know many people in the chronic illness community will ask: When did people remember to do that for us before the coronavirus? And better yet — will people remember to do so for us when this is all over? Because the truth of physical distancing is that it never becomes “easy.” It just becomes easier. It is a true test of optimism and willpower to remain positive when secluded indoors and alone for so much of your time.

I am not a recluse — I am an extremely extroverted person who has become friends with an introverted version of myself. And actually, I think I’ve become to like that version of myself better. I haven’t become this way because I choose to necessarily — I became this way because I had to, much like many people will have to change or learn to accept parts of themselves after being in quarantine long enough from the coronavirus.

But the question remains: What will happen when all this is over?

P.S. Call your grandma. She’s in the same boat you are right now. When I am stuck inside and bored it reminds me that my grandparents probably are as well, so having that long gossip hour with your grandma can really be nice– for the both of you!

Baking cookies with my grandma