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Life within four walls

TMIK reader Holly Smith describes disabled life in lockdown

One brilliant entry for the TMIK writing competition was from Holly Smith, who wrote about living in lockdown with a disability. We wanted to share her powerful piece with you.

For me, staying at home has been a method of survival for nearly a decade now. Self-isolation was a way of life long before it became a strict injunction placed on our freedom by the government.

When you are disabled, housebound, life can live within four walls. I have not, therefore, personally felt the effects of lockdown in the same way that so many around me have. I have not felt unusually constrained by the limited reasons under which we are now permitted to leave our homes.

Due to a flare in my condition I had only been in two places since February
anyway, home and the office. Nothing but the hospital in between. In this unprecedented time, I know how to cope. Uncertainty and cancelled plans are the norm for me and many in my position and, whilst there are different struggles than before for all of us, experiencing staying at home all day, every day is just a small taste of our normal life.

Firstly, for those of us, then, who have long accepted that life is often lived in a confined number of places, it has been interesting to see how remaining connected has changed now that we are all in the same boat. The biggest institutions in the country are exploring new ways in which to serve the public. The National Theatre is providing weekly plays on YouTube, similarly the Royal Opera House is streaming ballets and the brightest stars are creating new television programmes that offer comfort, culture and distraction.

Employers are also more freely opening up to flexible ways of working. In fact, we all know that to zoom has practically become a verb overnight. It seems that here the new way of working is being forged – whispers of a future of remote working are being translated into a tangible reality for so many.

Life is unrecognisable. It is hard and painful and overwhelming. But, this is a whole new level of accessibility. It has been developed because we now all must stay at home. In a small way, we are now all speaking the same language. We cannot come out, we must build and maintain lives in a way that pervades previous norms.

So once we win this fight, once we start to believe that we will be able to be with our loved ones again, to hold their hands, I pray that we do not forget this new language. A language of accessibility to arts, culture, remote working environments and every other form of inclusivity that has surfaced in this global crisis. It was a lifeline for you in lockdown, a source of undeniable happiness to guide you through the uncertainty. Remember it may always be a lifeline for me.