Should I stay (in) or should I go (out)?

I sit here feeling conflicted.  The cricket is on in the background.  I smile as I think about the many happy days and hours I have spent whiling away watching this beautiful game with my Dad, setting the world to rights in the process.

Writing this, the now customary lump in my throat forms as I think of such happy times, and then remember I haven’t seen my parents since Christmas.  An unheard of gap, which we have all felt.  It has now been 22 weeks of self isolation.  154 days.

Such a strange time.  So paradoxical too.  I can’t recall a time when I have felt so connected to people in some ways, and yet so disconnected in others.  I feel a weight and a responsibility that I have never felt in this way, to step up and to continue to raise awareness of the challenges faced by those with impairments as we experience and adapt to our ‘new normal’.

I want to do more, but I’m not quite sure how to. I know that I try to make a difference, but it never feels enough. As a ‘fixer’, who wants to offer solutions and make a difference, this is something that is very hard to stomach. Where is my cape when I need it the most?

Set against this is the chilling realisation that those of us who have survived thus far have defied the statistical odds.  Analysis such as that from The Office for National Statistics tells us that those who declare an impairment have much higher mortality odds than those who do not.

It is little wonder that simple things like taking photographs of sunsets at the end of the day, and giving thanks for making it through each one have taken on new significance. I am here, yet I am also not here.

A factor in the isolation is the climate we see around us.  I am not in a position to ‘help out’ by eating out, and find it difficult to ‘play my part’ wearing a face mask.  This less than subtle ‘othering’ of those with an impairment serves to compound issues faced around the lack of confidence to go out.  Why take a risk when I risk being confronted?

I don’t want to wear a special lanyard either, or carry a card. I stand out enough as it is. I just want to not be the subject of unfair judgement from others.

Frankly, the situation feels messy.  At other times I feel a strong desire to just leap in my car and head up North to see my family.  After what is now 22 weeks though it feels that this would be a rash move that would compromise the care we have shown so far.  

So, in the deliberations about whether I should stay or go, I think the former will continue to be the case for now.

It is in these times that we can continue to be each others strongest assets.  I can only speak for myself, and I know that these times are a struggle and will continue to be so.  They are a unique challenge that in many ways surpasses that of anything else I have done previously.  And I’ve done a couple of things.

Compassion as opposed to condemnation remains key.  One of the most important questions you can ask someone during this time, is ‘how are you?’ 

About the Author

Dr Chris Whitaker is a disability blogger who writes on impairment related issues.