When you hear disability, it’s common to think about limitations, restrictions, and lack of freedom. Life as you once knew it is no longer the same and you feel like nothing is in your control. Though adjusting to living with a disability can be a trying time, it is very possible to turn things around. It starts with changing your mind and taking care of your health. No matter what you’ve been diagnosed with, living a happy, fulfilling life is possible.
Accept and Grieve
The first thing you have to do is accept your disability and allow yourself time to grieve your loss. You cannot truly move forward if you remain in denial which holds you back from living a happy life. Start by grieving. You truly did lose something. Not just your physical health either, but the life you’ve always lived and some plans you may have had for the future. Don’t try to put on a brave face for others right now, just let it out. Give yourself some time alone and just feel whatever your body is naturally experiencing.
As you’re going through these emotions, find positive ways to cope with them. Ensure you avoid prescription drug addiction by not taking more medication than you should or turning to street drugs and alcohol. Instead, write it down in a journal, talk it over with a therapist or trusted friend, take a nap, get a massage, read a good book, or do something else that allows you to release your emotions in a healthy manner.
Take Control of Your Disability
Your disability can take control of your entire life – if you let it. Now that you’ve come to terms with your current state it’s time to get active in making positive changes. You may have some limitations, but with a bit of planning, you can take control and reduce the hold the disability has over your life.
Start by educating yourself on your disability and your rights as you will need this information for everything from your place of employment to healthcare and medical treatment. Also, start using the tools and resources that are available to make living with your disability easier. Whether it’s a motorized wheelchair, a cane, or a prosthetic, get it as this reduces your limitations. You can also take advantage of newer technologies, applications, and websites that offer more resources for coping with your disability.
Last but not least, in order to really take control of your disability, it’s time to start making new goals for yourself. Whether it’s learning how to dress, type on the keyboard, or find a career in a field that better supports your disability, start setting those goals and making mini-goals that will help you reach the ultimate plan.
Live Your Life
Being disabled does not mean you’re dead. You still have a life to live and now is the time to live it. Though you may not be able to do certain things you once enjoyed, there’s a lot of fun to be had in discovering new things that interest you. Find things that give you purpose and meaning and bring you peace as this will help you emotionally. Volunteer to help others in your position, travel the world, join a support group and make new friends, learn new skills and hobbies you can participate in despite your disabilities, and just enjoy life.
Finding out that you have a disability can be mentally crippling. If you’ve been trying to make positive changes, but haven’t been successful, it’s okay to ask for help. Talking with a therapist can help you sort through the emotions you’re experiencing in a positive manner. They can also help you in setting goals for a better life. If not a therapist, finding a support group with people in similar circumstances can be a great help. They can talk you through their experiences and provide words of hope and encouragement to get you through your tough times.
Everyone hopes to live long, happy, healthy lives, but that isn’t always the case. While being told you have a disability is a life-altering experience, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Learn how to cope with your emotions in a healthy way and recreate a life that gives you true meaning and purpose. It can take time, but with patience, effort, and the support of others, you can move on to better days.