The Transportation Troubles of Chronic Illness
Last updated: April 2019
As I sit around my house, mentally pacing in my head due to boredom, I’m struck by a desire to escape. A feeling that if I could just get out of the house for a bit, simply see some different scenery, or even interact with a real live person, then all of my life’s problems might be fixed. That’s obviously not true, but I still can’t help but think that being able to go somewhere on my own would do wonders for my battle against depression and loneliness that I deal with because of my disease.
Limited access to transportation
My situation may not be the most common, however, it is far from unique. I have Multiple Sclerosis, am on disability, and I no longer drive because of my illness. I also live in a not super populated area where public transportation is few and far between and ridesharing programs, like Uber and Lyft, are around but in low quantities and can be very expensive (particularly to someone on disability). I’m not even in a typical suburban neighborhood; there is literally a cornfield across the street from my house. Need something from the store? Need to go by car. Want to see friends? Need to go by car. Have to get my monthly Tysabri infusion? Need to go by car. Want to see another person? Need to go by car. Which, for someone in my situation, “need to go by car”, means relying on someone else, paying high rates, or simply just not going.
I survive remarkably well for someone in that situation. I have a roommate who helps out (and I couldn’t it do it without her). I also order a lot of things online (trust me, I get the absolute most out of my Amazon Prime membership). Surviving isn’t exactly thriving though. These days, other than walking my dog outside around near my house, I may leave the house once a week. That means, other than my dog and my seldom seen roommate, I can end up having in-person contact with other human beings nearly one day out of every seven. I’ve written before how big of a problem this is for me, particularly with regards to loneliness. Now, I know I’m not exactly in solitary confinement, but I’ve got to say, this has a pretty big effect on my mental health.
Loneliness isn’t the only problem with my lack of transportation. My sense of independence feels like it’s been trashed. My roommate and friends are awesome and always offer to get me wherever I need to go. However, as I’ve mentioned before, relying on others can have its own side effects. When I have to rely on others to get me to and fro or to pick up things for me, it crushes my sense of independence. I start to not even feel like an adult. There are times when I feel like I’m more like a pet than a regular human being. I try not to let those thoughts linger, but, when you spend so much time alone, thoughts will do that. I feel like my brain comes up with some pretty interesting trains of thought because I’m by myself so much.
Would having reliable transportation fix all of these issues? No, but it would absolutely help. When these thoughts race through my head, it’s like a crashing plane that I’d love to be able to bail out from. Getting places on my own would be extremely helpful to my mental wellbeing and overall health. I can’t come up with too many options though (I really wish these ride-sharing programs had a disability discount). I know location is huge (and when I lived in a city, this wasn’t really an issue), but that’s the thing, not everyone can just up and move. It’s not that simple (especially if you are on disability). So, I don’t have a solution to all of this, but I felt I needed to talk about it. I know it’s an issue for people other than me and one that should at least be talked about. You aren’t alone if you are in a similar situation; there are plenty of people like me going through it, too. So, hang in there and feel free to hit up the comments. My dog and I will be here waiting, as we gaze out on to the farmland of southern Delaware, wondering where we might go if we could.
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