It’s day 200 of lockdown and I log in to Instagram. I scroll and see pictures of friends’ lives, their holidays to Luxembourg, Tenerife or Vietnam. I see pictures of people enjoying a meal in the sunshine.
I want to be with them, living the lives they’re leading more than I thought it possible to want anything. But as a disabled person with cerebral palsy and asthmatic lungs, I’m at a high-risk for Covid-19.
Since late February, I’ve been shielding, becoming so intimate with the walls of my bedroom that I could forensically recite all the objects in the room with my eyes closed.
While everyone else was being encouraged to go about their lives again, to “eat out to help out” and return to the office or the classroom, disabled people like me stayed put.
The risk to our lives had not evaporated. We knew that it would be a long time before we could enjoy the pleasures of fresh air and the feeling of sunlight on our skin again.
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Many of my non-disabled peers are distraught at the news of new lockdown measures being introduced. The fact that these measures could be in place for six months mortifies them. I want to reply that disabled people like me never left lockdown. I want to say that we’ve been inside for far longer than six months, but I hold my tongue.
Before the pandemic, there was always a gap between the experiences of disabled people and non-disabled people. Before, it was as though each party stood on opposite sides of the Grand Canyon, trying to shout over to each other. But now? It feels like we’ve slipped into alternate universes entirely.