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Why Is My Life Treated as Less Valuable During the Pandemic?

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I once read that when you are diagnosed with a chronic illness, you go through stages of grief and this couldn’t have been truer for me. Ten years later, I am still grieving my once healthy, able body. The last six years have been particularly difficult; I have really been fighting my own body, loading it with various medications which can result in serious side effects just to have a fraction of the old me back. Not only was I battling all of that, I was having to accept that my body could no longer cope with and continue with the career path I had chosen. Everyday life was hard enough, not just battling chronic illness but having to explain why I was always ill, at hospital appointments or having to cancel another social gathering along with dealing with the lack of understanding or the judgemental comments from people I thought cared. Little did I know that a global pandemic would be thrown at me as well to make it even harder.

The next thing I knew, I was having to shield because I fall into the clinically extremely vulnerable category, due to both my illness and my immunosuppressant medication. I chose to follow the government guidelines and shield as I know there is a high chance my body would be unable to fight COVID-19 and I would end up in the hospital. Some may say the government has made me scared of catching it, but in fact, they haven’t. I don’t sit and watch all the news; I have read what I need to about COVID-19 and have taken the advice of my doctors. Why wouldn’t I trust my doctors? I trust them to pump strong, potentially dangerous medications into my body, so what would make it any different this time? I know that when I get an infection of any sort, I often end up needing antibiotics whereas a healthy person probably wouldn’t need them. I also know that when I get a cold, it takes me longer to get over it. So, I honestly don’t want to know how COVID-19 would affect me.

Just like everyone, I miss going out, seeing my friends and family and it has affected my health both physically and mentally. However, the biggest impact on me has been to see the lack of care from people, especially those friends/family I thought understood. When I see posts on social media that say things like “we cannot cancel life to preserve every life,” it is absolutely heartbreaking for me. Why is my life less valuable because I have a chronic illness? I did not choose to have this illness. I’m not old. I am in my 20s. I have not lived my life yet.

I too am suffering during this pandemic and want things to get back to normal, but I want it to be safe for everyone. For example, is non-essential shopping and going to the pub really more important than my life? Or the lives of the estimated 28% of the population who fall into the clinically extremely vulnerable category? Not to mention essential workers, those who work in the NHS and everyone who might need medical treatment of any sort. If we go back to normal and COVID-19 gets out of control, our NHS won’t be able to cope. Nurses and doctors will have to choose who they treat, their shifts will become even more stressful and their health will be affected too.

The government didn’t put us in lockdown to make us suffer, they are trying to protect us. Seeing and hearing such selfish and hurtful things has honestly hurt me more than being stuck at home for the last year. I would never tell someone that I don’t care if they die or that their life isn’t important. All I can say to those people is, imagine if it was your life that was at risk or your child’s life. Would you really be saying the same thing then?

Getty image by Piksel.

Originally published: March 2, 2021
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