‘The lockdown might be driving you stir crazy, but some of us are used to it’

Anthea McTiernan: It is actually lovely having you in our world. We wish you weren’t though

Welcome to my world.

No really, welcome.

There are lots of ill winds blowing at the moment, but one that seems to have blown me some good is the wind of self-isolation.

While I sympathise with anyone who is constantly craving exercise and vegetables right now, I have been craving those things for a while. The current lockdown might be driving you stir crazy, but some of us are used to it.


We don’t like it, don’t get me wrong, but before there were wellness apps on tap and supermarket home delivery, we were already trying to change things up to cope with our new reality of isolation.

It is actually lovely having you in our world. We wish you weren’t though.

One of the worst things about any long-term condition is the uncertainty everyone is currently experiencing. Don’t let uncertainty get you. We need you on the other side.

My particular “underlying condition” (to coin the current phrase) is Multiple Sclerosis. We are all different, of course, because we are a diverse group of people. Our condition is always different too. The thing we have in common with everyone else in the moment (to coin another more zeitgeisty phrase) is uncertainty.

Lots of us have an underlying condition. Many people are in this demographic – from those with asthma and diabetes, to those who have had an organ transplant or are in recovery from cancer. We all have different degrees of immunity. Ah, difference. We are all different. If this crisis helps us to face that fact, then a good wind will have blown some cobwebs away.

Admittedly the more soul-destroying reports of the ravages of Covid-19 are accompanied by the term “underlying condition”, yet if the waves of kindness sweeping over us are anything to go by, everyone has the backs of anyone with an underlying condition and we can all relax.

For me, the slow down here has been going on for longer than hand sanitiser and school shutdowns. Everyone is slowing down now and joining me.

I have started to listen to people who can do different things in different ways. People who are experts on difference have taken me under their wing. They are brawlers because we have made them fight for their right to exist. No one needs an uncertain fight over a ventilator at this stage, but if anyone can fight, I don’t fancy your chances!

Being back in the game as people have grasped a new reality has been lovely. The Irish Times Features WhatsApp group that knuckles down at 8.30am on my phone with its zingy banter and sparkly ideas is a gift. It is just lovely hearing the usual voices expressing themselves so differently. Irish Times readers will definitely have their itches scratched remotely.

The energy is palpable. For a woman with energy issues, the gift of those virtual meetings keeps on giving.

As my “moveability” has become more challenged, I have added activities that have enriched life with people who have enriched it too. Yoga and hydrotherapy anyone? I can’t do these most-unexpected activities now with the shut-down and staying mobile will be challenging, but I am ready to accept that gauntlet.

And I have learned lots about living in a smaller world. Watch this space.