While the global pandemic is difficult for everyone, we all know that people with disabilities sometimes face unique challenges the general public may not be aware of. A section of our new content series, “Real People, Real Stories,” is devoted to highlighting the ways in which COVID-19 has impacted real people with disabilities. We hope to drive home the importance of an accessible internet during a time when it’s an absolute necessity for everyone.
Employee of TPGi who wishes to remain anonymous
What challenges did you face before the COVID-19 outbreak?
I have generalized anxiety disorder. Thankfully, I don’t suffer from panic attacks, but it does mean that my body and mind magnify any perceived “threats” to the point that I live a physically uncomfortable and exhausting existence during times of stress. I often find myself ruminating on perceived problems, trying to plan for a limitless number of future scenarios to minimize negative outcomes, and am a bit of a germaphobe. As you can imagine, my anxiety has increased exponentially during this health crisis.
What new challenges are you currently facing?
The global pandemic (just the words start my heart racing) has caused a massive spike in my day-to-day anxiety. I live in a jaw-grinding state of tense pessimism, my contracting muscles making it uncomfortable to sit for any period of time. The worst part is going grocery shopping. Coiled muscles that would enable me to flee at a moment’s notice are terrific for escaping from a saber-toothed tiger – but are not so helpful when I’m trying to calmly navigate the aisles.
Once I’m home I have to fight the urge to wash my hands and wipe down the entire kitchen every time a member of my family touches a freshly purchased food item. I have even gone so far as to “quarantine” fresh fruits and vegetables that will be eaten raw, for fear that they are contaminated with the virus.
I wash my hands so much I’ve taken to wearing gloves indoors at points. That way, I only have to wash the gloves and avoid stripping the moisture from my poor chapped hands.
Oh, and did I mention the 3-year supply of soap I purchased?
How are you dealing with these new challenges?
I have increased my nightly meditations and have been relying on homeopathic remedies to help me sleep, but still find I wake up with a sore jaw and tension headache from grinding all night. I have limited my information about coronavirus to the odd update from my husband, though it’s impossible to ignore it all.
On the surface, the pandemic has changed very little about my day-to-day activities (social occasions aside.) It’s what goes on in my mind that has massively disrupted my way of life. My OCD qualities are becoming more pronounced and it’s incredibly difficult to shut off the voice in my head that shrieks “MAKE SURE YOU CLEAN THAT DOORKNOB JUST ONE MORE TIME TO MAKE SURE IT’S SAFE.”
On the upside, my house has never been cleaner.
“Phones, keys, remote controls, loose change are a constant source of anxiety. After returning inside from an outdoor excursion I sanitize all these items. Mail is left to “decontaminate” for a few days after I fetch it from the mailbox.”
If you’re interested in sharing your own story for our “Real People, Real Stories” series, tweet at us at @paciellogroup.