Friday, 13 March 2020

Dealing with Quarantine (from an actual expert)


Today’s post is for people who are having their first taste of isolation or quarantine and are feeling a bit overwhelmed.

There’s a lot of these going around, and although they can be useful (I have no idea about specific Corona-based medical practise or finance) they seem to be written by people who are generally out and about in the world.

No offence, but what you really need is a Professional. You need… A HOUSEBOUND PERSON!
And that’s where I come in.

For those of you that are new here, I have a condition where, amongst other things, my body doesn’t create energy like it should. My mitochondria are all messed up, so, as you can imagine, that has an impact on… everything. 
I am too exhausted to leave the house, or sometimes my bed. So I’ve been cared for by my lovely family for seven and a half years, and have been housebound for the last five and a half.

By now, I’m an old hand at this, so I’ll be able to help you out with some of the lesser known issues that people without that half a decade of experience just can’t tell you.

Some of this may seem strange or contradictory in places, but I don’t make the rules. This is how it is.

Choice makes a difference 

You’re probably learning (or about to learn) that the one thing that makes a difference as to whether doing something or not is fun is Choice.

The number of times I’ve had someone say to me “it must be so nice to be at home all the time” is ridiculous. 
The person saying it is thinking of the fun type of staying at home, where you decide to have a duvet day and watch movies and eat toast in your pants. 

But now people are being faced with the less fun kind. The kind where you can’t leave.

Staying at home because you want to… fun. Staying at home because of Doom Plague Potential… not fun. (Also, bagsy “Doom Plague Potential” as a band name.)

It’s tough being uncertain when you’re going to see people, do things or get on with your life, but…

If you think about it, you are making a choice. You’re making the choice to put your health first. That’s sensible. 
And if you’re careful with others who are more at risk then you’re making the choice to be kind. That’s even better.

You're allowed to be grumpy or frightened

You can be grumpy about having to stay in. You can be frightened. Those are valid emotions. Have a scream into a pillow, or shake your fists at the sky. Cry, if you need to. Let those emotions out, and then take a deep breath. Because...

You can do it

I’m not even meaning this in an inspirational quote sense, you can actually do this. It may be tricky, but if I can last half a decade in my house, you can last a couple of weeks, or even a couple of months.

If you’re actually sick then make sure you have people who can check up on you via the internet or phone if not in person. Seek medical attention where necessary. Help each other.

The Internet exists - embrace it

All that “put down your phone and live in the REAL WORLD” stuff is about to become a load of cobblers.
You will feel lonely, the Internet is a great tool to prevent that, so embrace it.

Group chats, social media, and video chats make a MASSIVE difference in the lives of people stuck at home, so utilise that.
Even when you’re watching tv, have a group chat of mates watching the same thing and talk about it as if you’re all there together. Because you are... kind of.

You can also contact plenty of mental healthcare professionals over the internet (or phone) if you feel that’s something you need. Don’t be afraid to reach out. There are people available. We're all in this together.

The Internet isn’t real

At the same time as the internet being an amazing tool and opportunity for social interaction, it’s important to remember that it’s not a complete experience of the world.

It seems obvious when you’re able to leave the house, but it will quickly become clear that things start to feel a bit more skewed without the regular interaction of polite (or not so polite) strangers in everyday life.

Things will seem more polarised and polarising, and specific, potentially small things may seem extremely important. That’s normal, just... bear it in mind and take a deep breath before reacting to things.

TV, Radio, Things to do!

If you, unlike me, are at home as a precautionary measure instead of long term health condition you can probably do things. Hooray!
Right now that is less than you're used to, and BELIEVE ME I know that feel, bro, but you can still do things and that’s wonderful.

Imagining a lengthy period where you’re stuck at home sounds awful, but imagine it without TV, books or the internet. Or crafts. Or DIY. Or the ability to clean your clothes or yourself.

I’m trying really hard not to play the “be grateful” card here, because people have said it to me despite me struggling (or being completely unable) to do any of those things and it made me want to bite them. But also... you can likely do those things. So maybe this is the point where all those trite inspiration memes come in handy and you can embrace the things you can do.

Unless you are sick, in which case, for the love of all that is holy, do not do the things.
Stay in bed. Drink fluids. Have people check in on you as safely as possible. Resist the urge to get up and make your body fight harder than it is, because that will not help you.

Trust me, despite all those “you can do anything if you BELIEVE” quotes, it’s not strong or clever to push your body when it’s struggling. You will just use up energy your body could be using to heal you. Take it from the sick person.
Stay in bed till you feel better, and then a bit longer, just to make sure.

And resist the urge to go out in public and rub your germy self onto various surfaces.

You will come to love your Postie/Courier.

Oh, those kind humans who strive through wind and gale to bring us parcels and food, and most importantly, contact with the outside world. 
A face! A new face! Possibly some small talk. You never knew that was a thing you could miss before this moment.

Will you potentially feel the need to disinfect everything you get in the post? Possibly. Will you be ever so glad to see someone who doesn’t live in your house or flat? Most definitely.

They must be protected for they are the keepers of the parcels.

Time will lose all meaning.

The only thing I can reliably liken it to is that weird week between Christmas and New Year where you don’t know what day, time or year it is. Or why you’re covered in biscuit crumbs.

If you don’t celebrate these events and have have no prior experience in this weird time warp... I’m sorry. Things are about to get real.

I genuinely forget my own age at this point.

Keep to a regular schedule.

You’re going to re-enter the world at some point but that’s going to be difficult if your schedule is all messed up.
Keeping to a normal(ish) schedule will also mean you’re more likely to sleep better, which will be handy if you do actually get sick.

If you’re going to be working from home then you’re probably going to have to use alarms to get you to do anything because otherwise you will look up and it’s three in the afternoon, you’ve done nothing and you’re still in your jim-jams.
(To be fair, if you want to work in your jim-jams that’s a totally valid choice.)

Try to stick to specific working hours if you can. It’s much easier to switch off your mind from work worries when you’ve got commute time in the middle, so having set hours or a signal to yourself (like changing clothes) that the work day is over will help you wind down a bit easier. I remember that much from my healthy freelance days.

Vitamin D

If you're going to be inside a lot more than usual then it might be wise to make sure you're eating healthily and specifically that you're getting enough vitamin D. 
We normally getting enough of this through sunlight, but if you're not out in it as much, or if your mood is easily affected by weather or seasons, then it might be a good shout to have a supplement.

You don't need a massive amount, even I only take one a week and I'm pretty deficient, but it's best absorbed with vitamin C so taking those is good too, or an all round supplement that includes it.

If you've got a garden to sit in or a room that gets a lot of light, then that should help both your vitamin D levels and your mood.


I imagine that if you’re housebound without being sick you’re probably going to have a ton of pent up energy.

I’ll admit I’m completely guessing here, because energy is quite literally what my body is rubbish at producing so exercising makes me worse, which is why I’m stuck in my house unable to do anything in the first place.
Looking back at those heady years before I got sick, however, I would get pretty restless being stuck inside during that weird post-Christmas week, so it’s probably good to try and exercise some of that off.

Stretches, yoga, kick a football about in the garden. Whatever floats your boat.

You’ll probably sleep better and it’s good for releasing endorphins too.

Again, if you’re sick, don’t do this. Just don’t. Coronavirus targets your respiratory system so nobody wants you to be doing star jumps like a muppet. Go lie down.

Touch withdrawal 

If you live on your own, or even if people inside your house are avoiding contact to prevent potential contamination you may experience mild touch withdrawal. I don’t know if that’s an official term, but that’s what I’m calling it.

You can counter this with:

Blankets, duvets, or weighted blankets

There’s a reason people are given shock blankets after trauma, and that’s to simulate a hug and release the associated endorphins. Having a blanket, duvet or weighted blanket around you will do that same thing.


Having access to a furry (or scaly or feathered) friend will help with loneliness and touch withdrawal. A lot of them will be loving the chance to spend more time with you.


I’ve had people tell me that ASMR videos help them with loneliness and touch withdrawal. 
ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response and is basically a tingly feeling of calm and being cared for that a person can experience when watching or listening to certain triggers.

YouTube is full of people tapping on bottles and turning books pages, and it can be really useful.
I was a bit dubious to begin with, but honestly the ones where the person pretends to cut your hair make me into a giant pile of goop.

Not the same as long term isolation

This is going to pass. You will be able to leave the house again, and it will be relatively soon.
When it does, please be respectful of those who are still here.

Yes, a two week quarantine might give you a tiny glimpse into what it’s like to be housebound, but it won’t make you an expert in long term isolation due to illness or disability. That’s a whole other ball game.

Please do not equate the two, because it honestly feels a randomer in a bar who has spent two minutes thinking on a topic telling you about something you have a doctorate in.

Coronavirus is scary, and quarantine or self-isolation is not something you’re used to but it is temporary.


If disabled or sick people are getting salty on the internet it’s because they have reason to be. 

A lot of us have been stuck like this for years or even decades, and many of the options that would make things much more accessible for us have only magically become possible now there’s a threat to the general, abled population.

It doesn’t help that lots of people are trotting out the old “it’s only the old and sick who are in danger”. Thanks for that, mate. So glad that it’s only us sickies (and oldies) who might die and not the important, useful people that are in danger.

Many of us do not have that light at the end of the tunnel when we can leave the house and just get on with our lives. I have no idea when or if I will be able to rejoin society fully, or even partly. And I just have to get on with it.

So take this opportunity to be a little more mindful of those people.

I do hope this helps people who are nervous about being isolated. Keep calm. It will be alright.

If you want to find out more about being housebound long term then you can check out this post I did called “What No-one tells you about being Housebound”.

If you’d like to donate a pound or two to the ME Association to help them work on a cure so I can leave the house as well then head here.



  1. You're such a great writer

  2. Brilliant Hannah, Thank you so much for using your limited energy to help other people. You are a star Julietx