3 Steps to living a happier life with your disability
Having a disability can and will complicate your life in a myriad of ways. From the diagnosis itself to just the logistics of navigating life with that diagnosis, you’ve got a lot to think about. But when in doubt, I’ll always be here reminding you that being disabled doesn’t equal an unhappy (or even an unhealthy) life.
I have always craved independence. I’ve got strong feelings about giving disabled people the chance to be independent in whatever ways they’re able to. However, there is absolutely no shame at all in accepting the support from others. Whether that’s from your family, friends, or someone hired to help you.
And I really super wish there were no stigma behind mobility aids for daily living like canes, scooters, or wheelchairs. There are so many people who could benefit from a mobility aid but struggle (and often hurt themselves) without them because of the hell they go through when using them out in public. If you’re abled and reading this – please don’t be one of those people who make it their mission to find “fakers”. You’re not helping anyone, especially not the disabled community.
Anyway, my point is this – you do what’s best for you. If you need someone to help you get dressed or you just need a wheelchair for bad pain days, you don’t need to answer to anyone. Your disability shouldn’t mean you also have to automatically stop enjoying your life, so talk yourself out of any of that guilt you’re holding onto. Fight for what you ned, keep setting new goals, and be the amazing human I know you are.
Improve your home
I mean, it’s pretty much everyone’s goal to have a great home environment but it can be even more important when you’re disabled. Think about the basic things you need to do on a daily basis. Your home should work for you; it shouldn’t be the other way around. Make sure your toilet, bed, and stairs all have easy access options.
If they don’t, and let’s face it, they probably don’t because homes are so rarely accessible, try researching different options. Will your insurance (if you have any) cover modifications? Are there any grants available? At the very least, try connecting with the disabled community. We’ve gotten pretty clever at figuring out how to make our inaccessible homes work as best as possible. There might not be a perfect solution for everything, but don’t assume there are no options either.
It’s pretty obvious that you’re going to need a way to go to the bathroom and get food. But there are tons of other ways to make your home that you might not have thought of. If you spend a lot of time in bed, it might be a good idea to get a really nice lap desk so you can easily work on your computer without straining your neck/back. Heated or weighted blankets are a huge comfort for a lot of people. Mini fridges aren’t just for dorm rooms. They can be great if you have difficulty getting up and walking to the kitchen when your pain is flaring up.
Make an effort to be comfortable with yourself
Learning to love and accept your disabled body is…. not always easy. I’ll leave it at that for now. But man, if you don’t, it just makes everything 10000% harder. You don’t have to love all your symptoms or even your disease or diagnosis itself. But you should absolutely love yourself and your body. Your body might be in pain and it might not work the way it in theory “should”, but it’s doing it’s best to keep you alive and you’re here.
On days when you’re really struggling, make time to focus on the things you like about yourself. Disability related or not! When you’re starting to feel crap about being disabled, try to reroute your thinking to something more positive. Instead of telling myself how much I hate being in a wheelchair, I’ll catch myself and say things like “I’m so happy I have a wheelchair”. I’m clearly not an expert on this, but I know that eventually with a lot of practice you can start to change your thought patterns.
At the very least, be patient with yourself. If your mental health is really taking a dive, you might want to practice meditation or something else that you know lowers your stress levels. Call your mom, take a bath, read a book, do a puzzle, binge watch Friends for the 50th time. There’s a ton of pressure on disabled people to be “productive” but you deserve time to yourself to just be calm.
You’re 100% entitled and justified in any negative feelings you might be holding towards your disability and I’ll never tell you how you should feel.
But I will say this: you’re not doomed to a life of unhappiness just because you’re not abled. Whether you were born with your disability like I was or it’s something new in your life, just know that there is a whole community waiting to embrace you. You got this!
*This is a collaborative post and may contain affiliate links*