Coping During a Pandemic as Someone with Chronic Illness

How this pandemic has been experienced by folks with chronic health issues is an area that is worthy of further exploration, as I imagine there are differences between those experiences and those of healthy folks. I also would like to elaborate that folks with chronic health issues are not a monolith and everyone within that group can also have a wealth of different experiences.

Coping during a pandemic as an individual with chronic illness, can bring about many painful emotions. These emotions can include feelings of isolation, othering, fear, and stress. A common experience for folks at the beginning of the pandemic was a sense of validation-that in some ways, healthy folks would get to experience a fraction of the discomfort, burden, and isolation that those with long term illness experience on a fairly regular basis. In some ways, that did occur. However, healthy people have the luxury that the pandemic will ultimately end-whereas chronic illness is by its nature unrelenting.

While folks are adhering to constantly changing guidelines which can include no longer wear masks indoors or gathering in public places and forgoing social distancing, the reality is that there still exist uncertainties for those with long term health issues, whether it is due to compromised immune systems due to solid organ transplants, undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, or other areas of concern related to health-such as loved ones refusing to get the vaccine or the not knowing if others are vaccinated or not. The chronic illness community deserves protection and dignity during this turbulent time.

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