Leanne-Sydonie’s story – living with long term conditions during COVID-19
"Covid-19 has been a huge barrier to my medical treatment"
I have known I was disabled since I was very young, but only with the diagnosis of additional conditions in my early twenties did I realise how important disability advocacy was to me. Throughout school I was embarrassed by my extra accommodations and tried my hardest to fit in with my peers who did not experience the same challenges as me. I did really well despite my low attendance, and went to university to study law. In my second year I really struggled with new and uncomfortable symptoms that lead to a diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease, then in my third year I was diagnosed with Gastroparesis so now I rely on a feeding tube. I had been taking the rest of this year as medical leave, and that’s when Covid-19 hit.
Covid-19 has been a huge barrier to my medical treatment, and I’ve had to grapple with the struggle of my medical leave, my symptoms, the struggle of shielding at home where I haven’t lived full-time for three years, and my own mental health as I come to terms with my new way of life. On coming home I had hoped to volunteer in my community, return to a part-time job and develop some new sense of normal, but this just hasn’t been possible with my vulnerabilities to the coronavirus.
When I was approached to volunteer with the Mental Health Foundation’s #morethanacondition Youth Panel sometime in lockdown, I agreed immediately. It gave me something to do after months of focusing on my symptoms and not being distracted by my studies or work, and it also allowed me the chance to reach out and help others with Long Term health conditions. I have always wanted to help others – be that through the law or just chatting, and creating content that ensures we’re seen and heard in such a strange time demanding attention in so many different areas of life, has been really important to me.
I am due to return to university in September, and despite the uncertainty with Covid-19, lockdowns, and treatment, I am really looking forward to being back.
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