My Pandemic- Living with a visual impairment
‘My Pandemic’ is a Barnwood Trust series that explores the experiences of disabled people and people with mental health challenges during this time of social distancing and lockdowns. We talk about the challenges and the things that can bring strength.
We spoke to a young man who lives with a visual impairment. He was keen to share his story in the hope that he would encourage others to do the same.
What have been the biggest challenges for you during lockdown?
It started I was living life back in Gloucester about a year before the Covid pandemic. I was adjusting to the Gloucestershire life and I was enjoying Gloucester in general. In February 2020 I went on a trip to India and I started having a bit of fun there. But when April came I heard about the Covid pandemic and one of my family members in India told me there would be lockdown for a couple of months. So I was locked up for about six to seven months and I felt isolated and I felt like my mental health went really downhill because I couldn’t go out anywhere.
My mental health went from really, really good to a really bad place. There were days that I wasn’t myself, I was speaking to my family on the phone every day but it wasn’t the same. There were some days I would speak to no one, I would just sit in silence for days and weeks. One or two words would come out of my mouth, that’s it.
I was fed up with the Covid pandemic in India, so I booked a flight back to the UK. I had to have a number of Covid tests, and then I had to do a two-week quarantine which was kind of okay because I was back in my own land.
So after the two weeks of quarantine I felt like I had more freedom because I was going out more, I was doing things. I had freedom, which I didn’t have in India. It was all great for about two to three months.
“And then unfortunately I heard a second lockdown was coming to the UK. I was a bit annoyed, irritated, and a bit exhausted. So when the second lockdown began I was locked up again for a couple of months and again my mental health and wellbeing went downhill, I wasn’t myself. Some weeks, some days I was in a good mood and then something triggered me and I’d go back into my bad mood and then I’m a bad person to other people.“
But after the second lockdown, at around April-time, I started going out more, had more freedom. I was fasting. I was going on more courses. I was going out to meet people. I was myself again. And absolutely my mental health went from a downhill to an uphill. And I feel like I’m myself again, I’m not a bad person, I’m a decent lad, I’m a good lad. And I felt so great about myself. Now hopefully it will open straight back up and we won’t go back into another lockdown. God, please help me, I don’t know what I’m going to do if it does.
What has helped to keep you strong during lockdown?
So there’s a number of things that helped me through this Covid pandemic. One, the online courses. Two, the online training. Three, family and friends, speaking to them on the phone a couple of times a week, going to meet them outside after the pandemic eased. I learned that if you’ve got human activity you will be okay. Your mental health will be going from a downhill to uphill and you will become yourself again.
Another thing that really helped me is my active sports and my gym. I go to the gym more than twice a week, which is great for me. And after I come back from the gym I feel so great. I’ve been going to the gym since the 12th of April and coming into two months now of training, I feel so great, I feel so motivated and I feel so good in myself.
“I’ve realised that what a normal person do, a visually impaired person can do as well. It has made me realise who I am, where I come from and where I’m going to go in my future. I might have a visual impairment but I’m coming now to who I am. I am looking for support, for work, for training. I am trying to get my voice out. I am trying to get this story as far as possible. I am trying to do a lot with my life.“
What are your hopes for the future once lockdown has lifted?
I hope that this Covid pandemic story does go out to other people and hope they do open up and they come forward to the Barnwood Trust or the other organisations and say yeah, okay, this guy is visually impaired, he’s partially blind, he’s told his pandemic story… If he can say it, anyone else can say it.
So another thing I want to do is to bring awareness to visually impaired people and non-visually impaired people too. I want to climb the Three Peaks Challenge in 24 hours. I want to do charity events and raise money for visually impaired people, for people to get operations, for clinical trials. I want people to come forward for support.
“And then one last thing is that I want them to accept their visual impairment and say “I’m visually impaired, I can do anything that a normal person can do.”“
If you would like to tell your story about life during the pandemic, we would love to hear from you.
Please get in touch with Hannah for an initial chat via email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01242 539935