Healthline community members share their experiences of living through the COVID-19 pandemic with a chronic condition.

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For the past 18 months, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted, and continues to impact, the billions of lives across the globe. In some areas, vaccination rates are rising and steps toward reopening are being made.

However, in most places COVID-19 continues to be a crisis, especially with the emergence of new variants.

From school and work closures, to disrupted career or life decisions, to keeping people away from loved ones, the pandemic has impacted nearly every aspect of daily life.

In many regards, individuals living with a chronic condition have experienced this impact to a greater degree.

Living with certain chronic conditions can put individuals at a higher risk of developing more severe COVID-19 symptoms.

A data analysis of over 500,000 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States from March 2020 through March 2021 provided by the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion showed that almost 95 percent had at least one underlying health condition.

For this reason, many people living with chronic conditions have experienced heightened anxiety around contracting SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Understandably, many individuals with chronic conditions have had to take even more restrictive steps to protect themselves against contracting the virus.

For many, this means longer periods of social isolation or not going into their place of work even when others felt comfortable returning.

Beyond the immediate concern around contracting the virus, many people living with chronic conditions have had to contend with other issues such as medication shortages and greater difficulty scheduling routine doctors’ appointments or medical procedures.

In one study published in late 2020, 98% of participants with chronic conditions reported that their daily routines were impacted by pandemic-related lockdowns.

Healthline’s chronic condition communities understand this impact firsthand. From the challenges and fears, to the small wins and unexpected blessings, members of MS Healthline, PsA Healthline, RA Healthline, and IBD Healthline shared reflections on how the pandemic has affected their lives so far.

“I got to come back to my hometown where I grew up so my parents and brother could help me homeschool our kids.

“I always felt sad about the short amounts of time my parents got to spend with my kids, especially since my disability made it harder for me to bring both kids to visit them. Now thanks to COVID-19, they got to spend a school year together.

“Also, as a benefit for all of us, I think that people who don’t have a chronic condition might be able to relate and understand us a little better now.

“I don’t think anyone before understood the feelings of being stuck at home when you didn’t want to be or the loneliness and isolation that comes with a condition like MS.” — Elizabeth McLachlan, MS Healthline community ambassador

“While this past year has been hard on everyone’s relationships, I think my favorite part has been doing more virtual hangouts.

“I love them because I can feel included in the party or activity even when I normally wouldn’t be feeling up to it! I think it’s improved my friendships a lot.

“Due to the pandemic, I also started working from home, which has been a game changer for me. I don’t spend as much energy commuting and can stretch, exercise, and wear comfortable clothes as needed.

“I do miss the social aspect of going into work, though.” — GirlwithArthritis, PsA Healthline community member

“I’ve been able to spend a lot with family just talking, laughing, and getting to know each other a little better.

“One of my children just turned 21, and my other one is 24; they are good kids, and my husband and I are very proud that they have grown into smart, intelligent, and caring people.” — Taz62, MS Healthline community member

“I live alone and started deteriorating drastically during the pandemic. I look healthy so most people around me didn’t understand; even my doctor didn’t understand.

“What saved me was that during March I started FaceTiming with people that I am close to, no matter how far away they were.

“I also have a therapist that helped me get through being quarantined alone and helped me overcome not wanting to ask for help.

“I am still learning, but I believe that being grateful for the few people that understand what I am going through gave me the strength I needed to move forward.” — Georgiazante, RA Healthline community member

“This year has been hectic for so many of us, but we will push through this. I am still going to college to pursue my career change. I am trying to start a blog. I am also learning how to budget again.” — Alisha Sanders, MS Healthline community member

“Before the pandemic, I thought I had a good handle on my anxiety. Since the pandemic started, my anxiety has been in full swing again.

“Health anxiety is so tough. I checked my temperature a few times a day; if I woke up and my throat hurt, it could send me into a panic thinking that I had COVID-19. It was just super nerve-racking.” — Anonymous, RA Healthline community member

“I’ve been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis for some time now, but I’ve never really taken care of myself. I pretty much speak the language of ‘go! go! go!’

“This pandemic has certainly forced me to slow down and reflect on my priorities in life. I’ve decided to prioritize my health.” — Meseret, IBD Healthline community member

“During the pandemic I’ve started to pray before I even get out of bed. I’m so thankful that I have a roof over my head, that my husband is good to me, that my kids are healthy (and terrorizing planet earth), and that, although I’m progressing with my MS, I can still walk.” — Jennette, MS Healthline community member

While the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly everyone in some way, it’s impact has been even more life-altering for certain populations such as those living with chronic conditions.

If you are living with a chronic condition and are looking for advice about vaccines, reopening anxiety, or how to make working from home more accessible, Healthline’s chronic condition communities are a great place to find answers to your questions.

Above all, no matter what you are going through, the MS Healthline, Migraine Healthline, BC Healthline, T2D Healthline, PsA Healthline, RA Healthline, and IBD Healthline communities are here to help you feel less alone.

Elinor Hills is an associate editor at Healthline. She’s passionate about the intersection of emotional well-being and physical health as well as how individuals form connections through shared medical experiences. Outside of work, she enjoys yoga, photography, drawing, and spending way too much of her time running.