5 May 2020

My name is Katie, I’m 21 years old, I’m a resident at YMCA Exeter and I live with a chronic illness called Fibromyalgia.

During lockdown I have seen many articles about how lockdown has affected our mental health and how to cope with that. Yet whilst lockdown has taken a massive toll on everyone’s mental health, I haven’t seen anyone talk about the effects of lockdown on chronic illness, so here I am sharing my experiences with you. 

Whether you are considered ‘High Risk’ or not during these times, lockdown has taken a devastating toll on both me and everyone I know, especially those suffering from one or more chronic illnesses.

I’ve found a lot of support has been pulled – regular appointments or check-ups, physiotherapy or even tests to diagnose conditions have all been cancelled or ‘postponed until further notice’.

Medications might be delayed, meaning people have to cope without medication, and most importantly, the stress of a global pandemic has meant that a massive flare-up in chronic pain, as well as other symptoms associated with a flare-up.

But we are not alone.

There are ways to make this difficult time easier to deal with and I hope, in sharing my coping mechanisms, I can help someone else suffering from chronic pain or illness.

Here are a few tips that could improve your lockdown experience:

  • Distract Distract Distract! Whether it be a TV Show, Crafting, Sudoku or Wordsearch, Film Binge, researching something you’re interested in – anything. Keep your mind busy, you’ll be surprised how when distracted, you don’t notice your pain or sickness that much.
  • REST! Even if you’re sleeping most of the day – don’t beat yourself up about it. Your mind and body are very overwhelmed right now, sleep is healing – never forget that.
  • Nourish yourself properly! Eating enough and the right things can really improve your mood and ability to cope. If you can’t access food – go to a foodbank. Nourishment is so important at this time.
  • Speak up! Ring for any and all support you can. Speak to someone, don’t bottle it up – it will only make everything worse.

Using these tools and others we may have learned over the years, means we WILL get through this. It won’t last forever and no matter how dark things get always remember:
This Too Shall Pass