My entire life I have been called lots of things: Stubborn, argumentative, sarcastic to a fault, forgetful, and many other things.
But as a disabled person born with a pre-existing condition, the one thing I’ve never been labeled is “fearful.”
Throughout my 35 years of life, those around my circles might even argue that I have done more to put myself in danger more than I should have in these past three decades just to have a normal life. This includes making attempts at taking my wheelchair off halfpipes, riding my manual chair into swimming pools, and doing rebellious things in my teens just to feel like everyone else.
Even in life, trying to live with a disability for many of us requires sacrifice and bravery. One does not make attempts at getting married, living away from the support of family. getting college degrees, and going on dates without an element of courage.
Yet, for the first time in 30 years, America is telling people such as myself to stop living in fear. And in response to America, I say, “how dare you.”
It’s not just America, it’s even people close to us that are absolutely convinced coronavirus is a hoax and that we should change our attitudes.
And somehow in the year of our Lord 2020, I’ve been considered the crazy one for not living a normal life. That somehow the media is pushing me into a mad lonely world where I am Howard Hughes locked in a room peeing in mason jars for months– and the rest of the world are the sane ones.
What are we supposed to do when family and friends act like this is a hoax? Are we supposed to take their word for it?
How are we supposed to feel every day when each reported death has the mention “person also had a pre-existing condition.” Are we supposed to feel safe?
But for the first time in my life, I am scared. I can’t help it. I’m wheelchairbound and immunocompromised. What am I supposed to do?
On top of this, I have not seen more than five people since March. It’s psychologically draining to the point that trying to write anything feels like lifting 900 lbs of dead weight.
The truth is for me and many others like myself, this year has taken a toll on our mental health. Between the lack of governmental effort and the apathy from a large group of Americans– it’s hard not to feel like society has stopped caring whether we live or die.
And even worse, it feels like we are stuck inside watching the world burn. As if we are Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window watching the neighbors get murdered next door. Only the murderer is coronavirus killing the vulnerable and we are waiting inside our lonely apartment wondering if the killer will creep inside and eventually find us.
And the fact that the President has now caught coronavirus does not make this fear any less concerning– regardless of his lack of caution towards the virus.
I understand that for many that are not at risk this does not seem like a big deal. And perhaps if I were in your position, I’d be just as cavalier about the pandemic.
And if you want to go have a coronavirus party and not wear a mask, that is your prerogative.
But speaking to you able-bodied brave soul– allow me to point to a Podcast. In this interview from Culturally Relevant, David Chen talks to Hannah Davis– a New Yorker who has been fighting coronavirus over 100 days. She is 32 and before all this was 100% healthy. The virus has done way more to this poor soul than just give “flu-like” symptoms. She now has neurological problems including severe memory loss. And even now, still fights the virus.
All this to say, you can judge us for living afraid or being too cautious.
But the expense of what you call “bravery” might also leave you with a pre-existing condition.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with this…
“Don’t be afraid of Covid.”