Nothing Short of Devastation: Disabled Writers’ Responses to the COVID-19 Lockdown During the First Year of the Pandemic

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Manel Herat


The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on people with disabilities and underlying health conditions by analysing their personal stories. The research questions explored in this paper are (1) what impact did lockdown have on disabled people’s mental health? and (2) were there any positive impacts of lockdown? To answer these research questions, 46 personal stories from the first year of the pandemic from March 2020 to March 2021, when restrictions were imposed on people’s lives, were selected from the internet to examine how lockdown and self-isolation impacted people’s lives. The data was analysed using two corpus software: first, LIWC (Pennebaker, Conglomerates, 2022), to see what the language reveals about people’s emotional struggles during the pandemic through analysing stylistic features such as the use of words for cognitive processes, emotional affect and personal pronouns; secondly, SketchEngine was used to search for keywords and to analyse concordance lines. The results from the data analysis reveals that paradoxically, while the first year of the pandemic has had a massive impact on mental health breakdown, it has also at the same time, given people the opportunity to find themselves and to explore avenues they would not have done, if not for the lockdown. The results also show that the duration of the lockdown had a severe impact on mental health, particularly anxiety and depression. In terms of language use, there was a high frequency of use of cognitive processes, first person singular pronouns and negative emotions. The high use of cognitive processes revealed that through their stories, the writers were reappraising and reflecting on the events they have experienced; the use of first person singular pronouns illustrated the self-focus of the writers and the negative emotions showcased their immersion in the events and the state of their mental health condition. The low number of positive emotions reveal the upheaval caused by the pandemic.

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HERAT, Manel. Nothing Short of Devastation: Disabled Writers’ Responses to the COVID-19 Lockdown During the First Year of the Pandemic. Medical Research Archives, [S.l.], v. 10, n. 6, june 2022. ISSN 2375-1924. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 20 apr. 2024. doi:
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