When facing disability for the first time there are some terrible facts about being disabled that you are going to encounter.
When you are disabled from birth (not that it is any easier by any means), you tend to learn how to cope with these terrible facts early in life.
But when you become disabled out of the blue, your whole world changes. I know when I became disabled I had to face some tough trials.
In this article, I will be going over some of those trials and the terrible facts about being disabled. Just know that there is always light at the end of the dark tunnel.
(1) Your family and friends will look at you differently
This was one of the biggest changes in my life as well as other disabled people that I have talked to.
When you become disabled, your family tends to treat you like glass. One wrong move and they will break you. This goes for any disability, even mental disabilities.
Worse is that they will try to help you when all you want is your independence. I know I have fought this treatment for so long.
It is not because there is malintent behind them trying to help you. It is just a simple fact that this treatment will make you feel helpless. A feeling that no one wants to feel.
Then there is the flip side of the coin. Your friends. Now I am not talking about all my friends here, but there are a lot of friends that I have never seen since I became disabled.
I also don’t believe that this was because they didn’t want to see me, just that the dynamics of our relationship changed too much.
Who was once their friend that liked to play ball and go and have fun is now a cripple that they started to feel like they had to cater too.
It is only natural when you see someone in severe pain on a regular basis to want to help them. But that help starts to turn sour and eventually they grow distant.
This process usually happens over time but one that does happen. The sad thing is that sometimes this is what we want.
We don’t want our friends to view us in a bad light. Someone that needs to be taken care of all the time or prevents them from doing the things they love because you can’t.
But reality can be cold as we start to realize that we are seeing our friends less and less. Then one day you wake up and realize that they are just not there anymore.
How I learned to deal with family and friends
I had to change my own view of life. This is not an easy task and one that can take years before you come to full terms with.
First is acceptance. Accepting that you are now disabled and can’t do the things that you use to. You need to tell yourself that being disabled is, “Okay.”
We tend to get blinders on when we become disabled. Like a picture that is too blurry to make out what it is.
These blinders include hate, pain, misery, self-loathing, depression, anxiety, and so much more that words cannot describe how disability truly touches our soul.
We want to lash out at the world. Cry for a reprieve from the prison that has now become our body. Yet, all we really can do with the pain is stuff it down into that dark abbess of our gut and leave it.
This is where I had to realize that my family was my rock and instead of letting my pain fester in my gut, I decided to express it to them.
Letting the people around you know how you are feeling is the start of acceptance. I no longer stored my pain in my gut, but instead, I let people know how I was feeling.
If I was having a good day I would let them know that I didn’t need help that day. This was how I started to get my independence back.
On my bad days though, I would ask for their help. Again, this gave me independence because I was choosing to get help.
This is how I started to limit my hate, pain, misery, and all the other feelings that come with being disabled.
I no longer started to lash out at my family when all they are trying to do is help. I no longer pushed people away because I felt worthless.
With acceptance though comes truth and the truth can be a hard pill to swallow.
Especially when it comes to your friends. Like I said before, there is no malintent on either side here. It is just how things worked out.
Friends tend to move on. They may keep in touch a little, but in the end, they have a life to lead too. It is not easy watching life go by when you are disabled.
But acceptance makes it easier for us to get out there and make new friends. Ones that we can build a relationship with knowing that they accept you for your disability.
Letting good friends go is always hard, but there are also good friends waiting for you down the road of life.
Don’t shut yourself out of the world because of your disability but embrace it and people will embrace you.
Help Shawn Brown regain his life back and learn more about Youwalk™ fundraisers.
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(2) The things you loved are now gone
A very common view of anyone who has become disabled. Life is over and everything you loved doing is now gone.
I can’t tell you how many things that I use to love to do that I can’t do anymore. Running, wrestling, playing ball, lifting weights, it all just got stripped out of my life.
This is probably the most depressing thing about being disabled. Not the fact that you are disabled, but that the things that you loved about your life are no longer available to you.
Then our sadness turns into anger. An inescapable feeling that we once again take out on our innocent loved ones.
What more can you do though? When it is the anger that feels like it is the only thing keeping you going day in and day out, giving you your strength to survive.
The anger that has now become your only friend. The problem with using your anger as your strength is that it is a false strength. One that can be zapped from you at any given moment. And it will be!
Before you know it, you are more depressed than ever and just looking for any escape possible. Don’t let it get to this point.
Even though this is a very bleak outlook it is one that many disabled people have faced. Being physically limited can tend to also limit our minds.
We look more towards the things that we can’t do instead of the things that we can. Life changes and change is hard for anyone to take.
How to love new things in your life
The key here is not to focus on what you can’t do, but on the things that you still can do. Your life is not over, you just have to find new interests.
The main key here is to find things outward of yourself. Being disabled means that we have a lot of time to roam around in our own minds.
That is a dangerous place to roam around in and if you are not careful you will get stuck there like a hamster running on a wheel in his cage.
Your mind tends to take you from reality into a land where the impossible is just out of your reach. You daydream about everything that you use to do.
This is how depression and anger begin to fester inside of you. You must look outwards to really achieve happiness in your life again.
When you do start looking outwardly you begin to see the world in a new light. With the darkness now exposed you will find new interests that you will grow to love in your life.
This is how you regain your quality of life back. Here are even more ways that you can regain happiness in your life when disabled.
(3 ) You can no longer work at your job
When you walk into that social security office and ask for that application to go on disability, you feel like your world has just ended.
Our jobs are a big part of our life. Think about it. What is the most asked question when you meet someone?
“What do you do for a living?”
A demoralizing question for anyone that is on social security disability. Because then comes the ugly truth again.
You tell them that you are on social security because you are on disability. Then you receive the look of pity as they ask more in-depth questions about your disability.
Questions that you have answered to a million doctors, friends, and family members. The questions that you just don’t want to answer anymore.
Then comes the advice. Try this doctor, try exercising, try vitamins. Advice with the best of intent, but with a lack of knowledge about what you are truly going through.
So, you smile, stuff the pain of your disability down in your gut again and say, “Thanks, will have to try that.”
All the while wishing you still worked so you would not have to go through this all the time. Wishing that you could be proud of what you did for a living instead of feeling like a helpless wreck that needs help.
How to find new self-worth
Self-worth is a big part of what makes us, us! Our job usually contributes a lot of what gives us self-worth. Without it, we feel like gum on the bottom of a life’s shoe. Always being stepped on.
The thing we need to realize here is that our self-worth is not measured by a paycheck. It is measured by the deeds we do every day.
Just because you don’t have a job or are unable to work does not mean that you are any less of the person you were before your disability.
Here are tips that I have found to regain your self-worth
- Learn a new skill: This is a great way to not only keep your mind off your disability but also to regain your self-worth. With the internet at your finger-tips learning a new skill is literally a click away. Plus, your new skill could lead you to a new job that you can do physically.
- Volunteer for things you can do physically: Volunteer work is what really gives you your sanity back. Being cooped up in a house watching Netflix is no life and will just make you more depressed. Plus, when asked the question “What do you do for a living?” you will have something else to talk about besides just your disability.
- Find a hobby that you enjoy: Life is all about having a smile on your face. Do things that put a smile on your face, especially when you are feeling bad. Hobbies can be a great way to do that. Busy hands mean that your focus is not on your disability, but on something outside of yourself.
These are just a few tips that will really help you regain your self-worth. But even more importantly, you will regain that part of you that you thought you lost when you became disabled.
Don’t let your disability control your life
Being disabled is not the end, but the beginning. Change is never easy and I can’t say that you won’t have tough times ahead of you.
But if you take the advice given in this article you will have more happy moments then sad. I promise.