Book Review: Survival: The Covid Years by Ilana Estelle

Survival: The Covid Years is Ilana Estelle’s honest look at how the daily turbulence and ever-changing rules and restrictions of COVID-19 impacted her physical, mental and emotional needs.

Thank you to Literally PR for sending me a free copy of Survival: The Covid Years in return for an honest review.

Survival: The Covid Years is Ilana Estelle’s account of her experience of the pandemic and lockdowns during the last few years. She discusses her experience of the pandemic as a high risk person. As well as having cerebral palsy, Ilana was diagnosed with autism in January 2019. This meant she had to try and come to terms with her autism diagnosis, as well as manage her mental and physical health during a pandemic.

My review

This period of unprecedented uncertainty has shone the spotlight on us all, leading many of us to think about what is important in our lives. I struggle to live in my own shoes most days, so rarely have time to think about what it is like to live in someone else’s. With autism, it’s easy to get caught up in everyday life; getting wrapped up in myself is a daily occurrence, but what I have found is that in such extraordinary times, it is especially important to be considerate – to think about others. Not just that, I think it’s particularly important to be considerate to anyone with a physical, emotional and mental disability, for those who face additional struggles that we may not always be aware of. It has been, and continues to be, a pandemic of inequality.

Survival: The Covid Years wasn’t quite what I had been expecting from the blurb. While this was advertised as a memoir, it feels more like a self-help book at times and is packed full of Ilana’s opinions on the pandemic response, studies and advice. It’s written in the style of a blog, with chapters split into smaller sections with subheadings.

The pandemic has obviously had an enormous impact on everyone’s mental health. However, Ilana had to come to terms with her autism diagnosis in lockdown which was particularly difficult. My favourite parts of the book were the sections where she talked about her struggles with her diagnosis and lockdown in more detail, and how she overcame these struggles. The pandemic was really difficult for people who were high risk and vulnerable, and this book really hits home how difficult it was. Ilana talks about not being able to go outside for over two years! I can’t imagine how isolating that must have felt.

At times, this book did get repetitive. There’s lots of “we should” and “it’s important to”. She talks about a subject (such as the Covid vaccine) in detail and then will go back to this topic later in another chapter, and repeat some of the same points. There’s also a lot of criticism of the vaccine, mask wearing and government legislation being relaxed too soon, which some people may find frustrating to read.

However, Ilana gives lots of great advice and encouragement for people who are currently struggling, such as discussing ways to manage a panic attack and the importance of practicing mindfulness for example. I think it would be a great read for anyone who is also high risk and to learn about someone’s experiences similar to their own, or would like advice on how to manage their anxiety and mental health. It was also an insightful read for me, as someone who is not vulnerable, who wanted to learn more about a different person’s experience in such a recent part of our history.

The blurb for Survival: The Covid Years

Ilana Estelle was forty-six when she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and then ten years later, she was diagnosed with autism. The journey, from angry, confused child to the ‘real’ her took enormous inner strength and courage. Then the global pandemic struck.

In Survival: The Covid Years, Ilana shares her overwhelming physical and mental struggles within the chaos of the pandemic. She explains how navigating the daily turbulence and ever-changing rules and restrictions impacted her physical, mental, and emotional needs, leaving her feeling out of control and panicked.

Locked down and fearing for her health, and even her life, Ilana turned once again to writing, a process that has helped her cope and reach out beyond life within four walls. Her revealing memoir shows how she learned to cope with stress, anxiety, and on-going self-isolation through Covid, through the healing power of words and with a steely determination to reconnect to the outside world.

By shedding light on her personal challenges through the pandemic, Ilana encourages the reader to explore the thoughts and feelings raised by their own pandemic journey. In this way she aims to unlock future potential for others, enabling them to move on from this enormously difficult time. A must read for anyone wanting to take positive steps after the challenges of Covid-19.

Ilana EstelleAbout the author, Ilana Estelle

Ilana Estelle’s cerebral palsy diagnosis was hidden from her until the age of forty-six. That diagnosis was a life-changing moment that allowed her to look at her life experiences differently. Months after her diagnosis, she set up her website The CP Diary. Ilana spends her days writing and blogging about things that contribute to her health and wellbeing. She uses her experiences to write, bringing clarity into her life. She writes about health and wellbeing, advocating positivity, empathy and understanding through her blog, and across social media. Ilana who is passionate about the environment and is an animal advocate, lives with her husband in Yorkshire. When she is not writing, Ilana enjoys days out exploring the beautiful north Yorkshire countryside. This is her third book.

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You can buy Survival: The Covid Years in eBook and paperback from Amazon, WHSmith, Kobo and your local bookstore.