How to Better Cope With a Disability
I know first-hand what it’s like to deal with a disability; I broke my back a number of years ago. I know it’s not always easy. As someone who provides disability services to fellow disabled people (and the elderly), I wanted to share some tips on coping better with your disability. Here are my top tips:
Don’t live in the past
What has happened has happened. Whilst technology and medical advances are moving forward in leaps and bounds, for some of us, we will be living with our disability for the rest of our lives. Whilst we may remember the past; that is exactly what it is – the past. I know this isn’t always an easy thing to action; you may need to access one (or a few) of a multitude of services, including counselling. The sooner you can move away from remembering the ‘good old days’ and start looking forward to the great upcoming days. Naturally, if you were born with your disability, this will not be so applicable to you … but the next point might be.
Don’t compare yourself to others
It’s easy to compare yourself to others – both disabled and enabled. With social media, video, TV and access to so much online, we get to see or hear about so many other people. Some disabled people have gone to winning gold medals at the Olympic Games. That is them and that’s a great achievement for them, but don’t feel your accomplishments are any less. All people are individuals and different and unique. Your disability may (or may not) be common, but that doesn’t make you the norm. You are unique. Embrace that and do your best for you.
You are not alone!
Your disability may not be overly common but there is a large percentage of the population who have a disability of some type. The range of disabilities is vast and for some of us, it’s clear we are disabled – you see me in my wheelchair – it’s not there as a fashion accessory. For others, the disability may not be so visual, but it’s still present. There are others like you and more importantly, there is help available. You do not have to sit in silence and suffer. Joining a support group specifically for people with disabilities is one way to not only ‘get out there’ but to share and become part of a group who understands, knows and supports you. This is an excellent place to share your struggles, discover practical and real solutions and receive encouragement. You might also find you’ll make some really good friends as well.
I believe that one of the most important aspects of quality life as a disabled person is staying positive. At times you might not feel so positive but there are a few things that you can do to get back that optimistic and affirmative manner.
For a start, think about all the things in your life which are good. Some people will actually maintain a Gratitude Diary. In this, you regularly write a list of all the things you are grateful for. Never write down anything negative. Keep the words positive … so rather than “No one gave me a hard time today” instead “Everyone I encouraged today was nice”. Remember also to not succumb to fear. Fear only holds you back from achieving your full potential. Make a habit of smiling and adopting that ‘cup half full’ approach does work and before you know it you will be feeling positive and happy.
Too much optimism can lead to unrealistic expectations of yourself. For some people with a disability, they can change things to a degree, but the speed of change won’t be the same for everyone. You might want to achieve a goal or objective within a certain time, but is that timeframe a fair expectation? Setting goals and pushing yourself (to a degree) can be good; reach out a little bit more every day to achieve something, however, don’t set goals or expectations that cannot be achieved and leave you feeling deflated, unsuccessful or a failure. I recommend you start small, and once that small achievement is done, then move onto another. Once you achieve a certain level, you can always increase your expectations or opportunities, but first, achieve a certain level.
It’s really important that you look after yourself. Your doctors will alert you of potential side effects to your condition or even medication and this can impact on your health. Whilst I do have the use of my legs, I can still exercise and I know a quadriplegic who is exercising his brain – by going to Uni to develop a new career path. How you stay healthy will be different for each individual person; but remember, you are not alone. You can have access to Occupational Therapists, dieticians and other professionals who can help you have a healthy body (and mind). Ensure you get plenty of sleep and if you need assistance with stress management, then reach out. There are a number of strategies – there will be one just right for you.
Get an Interest or Hobby
Having something to look forward to and purpose is a wonderful thing. You may look towards art, music, gardening or an education or business or some other thing that interests you. Find that interest and investigate how you can partake in it. You might even choose to volunteer and help others in the community. Every person (disabled or not) needs to have a purpose and something to look forward to. Find your interest and make it part of your day or week.
Become a little independent
One of your objectives should be to improve and develop your independent living abilities. Working on your day to day living skills will allow you to have greater independence. Long term, these skills will enhance your life and well-being. These skills can be personal hygiene and care, organising and attending your own appointments, managing your money, meal planning and cooking or laundry and cleaning. With these skills and abilities you not only will become more self-sufficient, but you’ll feel good about your independence.
Make your home work for you!
Modifications to your home or workplace will assist you in developing and having independent living skills. My business VIP Access does exactly this. We modify homes and workplaces so that you can live a full and meaningful and somewhat independent life. Whether it’s a ramp, specialised bathroom or kitchen space or extra ‘gadgets’ to help you live each day independently, we can work with your support team to provide you with practical and functional options. We are an NDIS provider so can provide you a detailed quote and plans to address your specific needs and wants. Many people with disabilities have NDIS funding for these projects; you need only ask to find out if you qualify.
In today’s world, life has its challenges and if you are like me and also have a disability, then those challenges are a little greater. However, with help, support and guidance you can look forward to many opportunities and great prospects. You simply just need to reach out. If you are wanting to look at options for modification of your home or workplace, then give me a call at VIP Access on 073807 4309; we’d love to talk to you (or your care provider) to see how we can help make a positive change to your life.