"Lightheaded, fatigued and foggy" - living with a chronic illness

Sussex student Jenny Bathurst chronicled Covid week by week. Now she returns to share thoughts, fears and hopes.

Jenny Bathurst
Jenny Bathurst

Jenny is studying journalism at the University of Brighton.

"Petrol prices are rising, flights are being cancelled, and rail workers are striking. To get just about anywhere at the moment requires you to either be pretty well off on cash or have a bionic body which can swim from London Gatwick to Majorca if you were to go ahead with my family holiday which was called off due to flight cancellations. We’ve been told that now nearly all Covid-19 restrictions have been scrapped we should feel free to venture back out into the world and enjoy the culture that the UK and beyond has to offer, and yet here we are left with few options of how to actually get there.

"Lockdown was a challenging time for so many, but we can all recognise how its impact has left its mark on the world today. Businesses realised that working from home was a convenient and effective method, so much so that Linkedin and other job search websites now have a filter in which you can solely search for roles that can be carried out from the comfort of your own home. I am still constantly finding face masks littered throughout handbags and jacket pockets, and for some reason unbeknownst to me I hang onto them all, as if I’m worried that a) I’m going to need so many old masks again or b) there’ll be another pandemic and the world somehow runs out.

"Despite the travel strikes and cancellations and the new ‘work from home’ initiatives, contracting Covid-19 gave me a pretty monumental reason to stay at home despite lockdown restrictions being over. Although I am unsure whether Covid-19 or a brain injury back in November was the root cause, this year I began showing symptoms of postural tachycardia syndrome (more commonly known as PoTS), a chronic illness which causes your heart rate to shoot up when standing or sitting up. This means that whenever I am in any position aside from lying flat I feel lightheaded, fatigued and foggy, so much so that after ten minutes it becomes pretty unbearable.

"I am in the process of finding ways to combat this: facing my fears by going on days out knowing that after each shop or ten minute walk there will be a bench or a park I can lay in, but planning every move and jeopardising my health at every turn can be so exhausting and feel so risky that it can be easy to give in and implement my own personal ‘lockdown’ at home.

"And I am not the only one. In fact, many have it so much harder than me. When lockdown restrictions ended and there were celebrations and sighs of relief from the physically and mentally healthy, it was forgotten that for the minority going back out into the world and trips away are no more accessible just because the government suddenly allows it. I am not asking for sympathy, simply that more people recognise that although lockdown and isolation may be a thing of the past for most, it doesn’t mean it is that way for all."