When people have asked me how I am feeling throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, they will usually receive a reply that varies from ‘All good’, to ‘Pushing through’, to ‘It’s been a tough week’, and everything in between.

What they won’t hear is how I have been feeling alongside these things. I have felt expendable.

It started early on with the first reports of the new virus that we knew nothing about. ‘It only affects people who are older and those who already have a health condition.’

In one of the first posts I wrote about how I was feeling as we entered this new world, I wrote these words ‘…the other day, I found that I was fighting back tears as, yet again, some politician somewhere promised that people who were diagnosed with the virus would most likely be okay – as long as they were not old or chronically ill.’

That was on 13 March. It’s now 11 September. For the last six months, I have continued to fight back tears and deal with lumps in my throat because one of the few constants through all of this is the lack of care and compassion directed at people who are older and those of us living with health conditions It’s a rather laissez-faire attitude: let’s not worry because we are all going to die anyway.

Being made to feel that I don’t matter is grinding. The accompanying stories from places with over-stressed medical departments, which show the people who this was ‘only’ meant to affect are being denied treatment because care and hospital beds are being prioritised for younger, ‘healthier’ people, are heartbreaking (and I’m sure impossible for the HCPs who have to make these decisions).

Add to that the bullshit reporting, manipulating data (and the truth) to suggests that many people who have had their deaths attributed to COVID-19 didn’t actually die FROM the virus, but rather WITH it, as if that makes it all okay and we are all just minutes away from dropping dead anyway, so who cares. It’s fun watching a discussion about how, if I was to get COVID and die, it would be the fault of the condition that I have worked so fucking hard to manage so that I can be healthy and contribute to the world around me, rendering that effort a waste of time.

It is a lot. It feels heavy. It feels that I don’t matter. But I do, don’t I? My friends with diabetes do too, don’t they? My parents and others’ parents and grandparents, and friends and family and colleagues who are older matter, don’t they?

Feeling expendable is a terrible way to feel, but it has been nestled in a corner of me for over six months now. That’s a really long time to feel pretty crappy and I honestly think it’s time to be better about the underlying messages when talking about COVID-19. I really want to stop feeling this way, so please, think about what you are saying when you mention people like me.