How to be happier and more productive with a disability
Living with a disability looks different for everyone. My brother and I have the same diagnosis and have pretty different experiences. But regardless of your disability, you might find that it’s hard for you to do things that come easily for others. Which can feel pretty crappy, and can lead to added stress or depression and anxiety.
Ableism is a tough thing to deal with, whether you’re experiencing it from someone else or it’s something you’ve internalized. Learning to embrace your disability, whatever it is, isn’t an easy or simple thing to do. It’s possible, though. It’s always important to remind yourself that your disability doesn’t have to prevent you from experiencing happiness, excitement, satisfaction, joy, and all the good stuff in life.
Accept the things you can’t do and fight for what you can
It’s not always easy to to rely on other people, but it’s also not always avoidable. At some point, you’ve got to learn to accept the help you need. Everyone needs help at some point, and letting go of any guilt or shame attached to it will make a huge difference in how you go through life.
That being said, there will be times when you need to fight for your own independence. Sometimes you need to demand for accessibility, other times you just need to get creative and do things in an unconventional way. Even if your only moment of independence in the day is taking out the trash or responding to emails or washing your hair – take it. Celebrate your victories even if they seem small. They’re just as important.
Get a Support Network
Sometimes you just need a buddy, and other times you really need someone to give you a hand. This might not be possible every moment of every day, but you should try and surround yourself with people who genuinely support you as much as possible. It isn’t easy to cut people out of your life, but if they’re only hurting you, it’s better to move on without them. Find people who only want the best for you. Ones who will celebrate your successes and shower you in love and support through your failures. It always helps to have your own cheer-team and when life gets you down, you know that you can always count on them to pick you back up again.
Your support network could also be a coworker who will advocate for accessibility where you work. Or maybe it could even be an organization like the San Diego Disability Law Group. It could be a neighbor who helps you shovel the snow when you’re not able to, or a friend who will give you a ride to your doctor’s appointments. It’s not always easy to find a solid support system, but it’s out there. Don’t be afraid to reach out online with people in similar situations.
Embrace Yourself – disability included
Being disabled can be wildly isolating. Often times, you’ll end up being the only disabled person (visibly or not) in the room, whether that’s at work, a restaurant, or even at home. So it’s pretty understandable if you feel like the odd one out. But despite narrative that is constantly spun in media, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. You’ve got a unique perspective and personality because of, at least in part, your disability. So embrace it! Love the fact that you’re different than everyone else in the room because being the same is boring and overrated. Let your disability be the thing you take pride in rather than the thing you try to hide or feel ashamed of.
Be a part of your community
It helps to have people in life that you can relate to. Like I said, being disabled can be isolating, but finding a community makes it so much less so. Something as simple as following other wheelchair users on Instagram so I see people similar to me every day gave me a huge confidence boost. Representation is few and far between when it comes to disabilities, so having someone to talk to who really understands what you’re going through is such a game changer.
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