Fionnuala’s story: Living with someone who is high risk

Fionnuala’s story: Living with someone who is high risk

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Fionnuala (23), a Jigsaw volunteer from Kerry, lives with a parent who is it high risk in relation to Coronavirus due to an underlying health condition. Here, Fionnuala shares her story. 

I feel anxious about bringing Coronavirus home, it’s a big thing as I have a family member who is high-risk. With the figures going up and down, it’s an unknown, and I don’t like unknowns. I find myself watching the news and the numbers quite closely. It feels like continuous months of checking. In Kerry, they went really down recently, we had zero for a lot of days. Whereas yesterday it went up to 19, so I’m back to being completely restricted again.


When the restrictions were lifted during the summer and everyone was doing everything, I couldn’t do much. That was way worse than lockdown. At least in lockdown everyone was in the same situation, unless you were on the front line. Then, when it was reopening, the weather was really nice and we couldn’t go to the beach or anything because it was too full.

Meeting friends

When all my friends go for dinner, I can’t go. I generally tell my friends about the situation straight up, that I can’t go out because it’s too risky. When I have to turn down invitations, most of my friends are really understanding, I’m lucky in that way.

Some have just stopped asking now, which is kind of annoying. But I can see why, because the answer is always ‘no’. I’d almost prefer if they kept asking, because I feel like I’m left out, but I have to leave myself out of the situation as well, so I can see why. I think they feel bad asking all the time too.

picture of Fionnula, 23 volunteer from Kerry
Fionnuala (23)
I’m in college, so I can’t put my life on hold and there’s an awful lot of frustration with the situation overall.

I loved meeting my friends, going for coffee, going for a night out. Not even a big night out, just meeting friends in the pub for a few drinks. Me and my boyfriend used to always go for a few drinks on a Saturday night, going to the cinema, all of that kind of stuff, it’s all gone.

I can’t go to my cousins. We’d be quite close and I often used to go there, but they babysit so we can’t go. You’re always weighing up how much contact people have with other people. My friends work in childcare, or they’re nurses or work in shops where there’s just too much contact. There are a few people in college who would be less risky to meet up with.

Getting out for a walk

I can’t meet people for walks if it’s busy. I live beside a national park, but I can’t go because there’s too many people. Sometimes I wish I lived in a little quiet town, whereas everyone comes down here from all over the country, so it’s not just the locals, there’s a lot more people.


I can’t go into a shop or do food shopping or anything, it’s all delivered. Not going out does affect your confidence a bit. I did go to Penneys last week for the first time, at 8 am, so I was the only one in there. It was just weird being in a shop scenario.

Being able to do college online is really helpful because I can’t go back to the library in college like I normally would. I used to live in the library, so it’s really hard to work from home. There are the distractions, like the bed is just there and I can just go back in. Whereas when you’re in college, you’re in college. At home the dog is there, the TV is there.

I try to switch off from college, but then I’m lying in bed and all my college stuff is on the desk and I’m looking at it thinking I’ve got so much to do.

To help manage I try to change rooms where I’m working. I’ve convinced my family to let me go to the library one day a week to get all my write ups done.

Pent up feelings

I’m in college, so I can’t put my life on hold and there’s an awful lot of frustration with the situation overall. I guess there’s anger too, because you can’t go anywhere and there’s no other way of letting it out at the moment. I’d normally leave the house to help deal with those feelings, I’d go shopping or meet friends or do something to change how I feel.

Fionnuala (23)
I’d like to talk to other people who are in the same position ... because I haven’t heard of anyone else my age who is having to do it

Managing relationships during Covid

I’ve gotten better at finding other ways to deal with the frustration. I went for counselling. I had to go because I just wasn’t dealing with being at home. It’s not good for your mental health.

My thing is, I go to a shop maybe once a week and that’s it, whereas my mum is stuck at home, she can’t go to work or anything. I look at it that I’m not as bad off as she is.

It has affected my relationship with my mum. There’s a lot of bickering and arguing, but I can’t just walk out. We’ve had to talk about it and negotiate.

I meet up with my boyfriend a lot because he’s in the same position as me, we’re both cocooning, so I guess we’re unusual in that respect. It means we both understand the situation, it would be different if you were with someone who was out and about every day. In ways it has almost brought us closer, because most people aren’t in this situation. We’re protecting each other, we’re both in it together

Shared experience

I’d like to talk to other people who are in the same position or hear different people’s perspective because I haven’t heard of anyone else my age who is having to do it.  There are other people out there because people have grandparents and parents and themselves who can’t leave the house, but we just don’t hear about them. We hear about the nursing homes and the people in their seventies and eighties.

Young people are getting a lot of bad press with all of this and that’s not fair. Like in Cork, everyone blamed the students for drinking on the streets, but go down another street and it’s adults in their thirties and forties but no one is saying anything.

Making the most of a bad situation

It has shown me how much we take things for granted, like going for coffee, or meeting friends, it’s all just online now. What I’ve noticed is before you’d always leave the good make-up or the good clothes for a night out, where as now I’m just wearing them around the house because I’m not going anywhere. I think a lot of people have learned to make the most of the moment instead of saving things for good or waiting. There’s only so many tracksuits and leggings you can wear!

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