Nine Lessons 2020 Taught Us About Disability

The year 2020 taught us a lot about ourselves and overcoming adversaries. After the onset of COVID-19, many non-disabled people were faced with unique challenges they have never experienced before. After almost a year of sheltering at home, limited contact, and gallons of hand sanitizer, people were beginning to understand what it feels like to be a person living with a chronic illness or disability. Here are nine lessons 2020 taught us about living with a disability:

Lessons from 2020

Staying home is not always fun

At the start of the stay-at-home orders, I’m sure it sounded relaxing--and almost fun--to cozy up in your home. After a while, people began to understand that when you are forced to stay home, whether due to sickness, disability, or the threat of sickness, it isn’t exactly enjoyable. In fact, the isolation can have a definite impact on your mental health and physical health.

Keeping distance from loved ones is really hard

In the CF community, the “6-feet rule”  among people is the very tough normal and has been for many years to prevent cross-infections. We know how difficult it can be to not be able to safely hug your friends and loved ones--at the risk of getting them sick--and now the world knows that pain as well due to COVID-19.

It’s frustrating to watch people be careless with their health

Having CF myself, I often get upset and annoyed by people who abuse their own health. It’s hard watching someone with a healthy body take advantage of it, while others work so hard to live. I think a lot of people this year have felt similar feelings watching friends or loved ones act recklessly in spite of COVID-19.

Being on high-alert for sickness is exhausting

I have always been more conscious of common colds or flus that could send me to the hospital in comparison to healthy individuals. You can never let your guard down because germs are much more serious in our case. The extra mental attention to detailed handwashing and paranoia of coughs and sniffles gets exhausting. People in 2020 are realizing the mental burden of being on high-alert for sickness that's all around you.

More jobs have the ability to work remotely

It was shocking to me how easily many jobs moved remotely at the start of the pandemic. For years, people living with disabilities have been advocating for more flexibility when it comes to working so that they can work in a manner that’s accessible to them. Now we know, it is possible to work remotely in a variety of types of employment.

More businesses can provide accommodations

In 2020, we learned the importance of accommodations offered by businesses and restaurants to get the goods and services we need--drive-up orders, grocery delivery, contactless take-out, etc. For people living with disabilities, these types of services can be extremely helpful since they limit exposure to germs and are more convenient requiring less energy.

Missing or canceling special events is hard

Disappointingly, many special events were canceled this year in an effort to keep people safe. It was sad seeing people necessarily forgo weddings, birthday parties, and other celebrations. That sense of disappointment is often felt by people living with unpredictable chronic diseases, like CF.

Being unable to work due to sickness is stressful

Working with illness is especially hard. Whether it’s because you're a parent who needs to take time off to care for a sick child, missing work due to doctor visits or procedures, or you yourself are sick and can’t manage to work. A lot of families met this struggle head on this year as their family members were quarantined, recovering at home, or in the hospital from COVID.

Flu season can be controlled if everyone worked together

One of the most interesting results of the pandemic has been its effect on the annual flu season. Flu cases across the globe are at a low due to increased vaccinations, social distancing, masks, and hand hygiene.1 It just shows that if we worked together each year, flu season could be curbed protecting those especially vulnerable.

Taking these 2020 lessons to heart

Although this year has been tough all around, it’s been an important eye-opener to the inequality faced by groups living with illness or disability. Perhaps moving forward we can take the lessons learned in 2020 to make our communities more supportive for all.

What lessons have you learned as a result of 2020? Share with us below!

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy. We never sell or share your email address.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Cystic-Fibrosis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.