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My Anxieties with Going Back to “Normal”

Last updated: June 2021

The vaccines are here and the numbers are going down. Things are slowly starting to open up safely and my anxiety is through the roof.

Life has been accessible

For the past year, life has been so much more accessible for those of us who are disabled and/or chronically ill. Working from home (if you worked outside of the house - I didn’t) was something that everyone was doing.

Finally, working got a lot more convenient for many of us. We didn’t have to leave the house and commute anymore. Sometimes we could just roll out of bed and get our work done for the day. This is something that chronically ill and disabled people have been asking about for years. It only took a global pandemic for that to happen.

Able-bodied people could relate

There have been many times in my 4 years of being sick that I had to stay home and rest. Isolation is no stranger to me and many others. While flaring I tend to isolate and not see anyone because I’m in too much pain, or too fatigued to do so.

Suddenly, the world was isolating. No one was able to see their friends or extended family. Finally, able-bodied people could relate to us, and get a glimpse of what it was like for a chronically ill person to isolate even when there wasn’t a pandemic happening. Everyone was alone, and in a way, that was extremely comforting. There was some compassion for what we go through on a regular basis.

With the world opening back up, my worry is that everyone just forgets what that isolation felt like, and the empathy disappears.

What going back to “normal” means

My biggest source of anxiety with getting back to our “normal” lives is how disabled and chronically ill people were treated. Inaccessibility was normal. Isolation was normal, but just for us. There was no empathy for what we go through every single day.

Sure, everyone loved getting to work from home and working in their pajamas, but now they’re able to go back to work as if nothing changed. For us, we still deal with chronic pain from sitting in office chairs. We struggle with getting ready and getting back to the grind. Will we still be able to work from home? It’s on a company-to-company basis when realistically it should be allowed to whoever if needed.

Another huge source of anxiety is everyone acting the same as they used to as if there isn’t a deadly virus still floating around. Yes, the vaccine is here and we’re pretty well covered, but that doesn’t just mean that COVID never happened.

We can’t forget that we lived in a world that allowed this to take over, and realistically it can happen at any time. We didn’t take the proper precautions, and if we don’t learn from this, it can just happen again.

How I will be moving forward

COVID-19 is a deadly virus. Right now, I’m half-vaccinated. Even when I’m fully vaccinated, I will still be wearing a mask in public (and outdoors if it’s crowded), washing my hands and changing my clothes when I get home, and taking the same precautions I’ve been taking all year. We can’t just forget the trauma we went through in 2020 and 2021.

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