Today I want to talk about five ways to embrace disability, society is so down on us it’s important to look from a different perspective.
When I first became disabled I felt like I had to push through, to do without my walking stick and to pretend I was not in pain. Before I could admit to myself I couldn’t work because of how it affected me I tried so many jobs.
I desperately wanted to be like everyone else, to work full time and have a ‘normal life’ I tried shop work, working in an office, a pharmacy and even a dentist office. However, my memory issues and unstable health meant I would lose those jobs pretty quickly.
Too often our self worth comes from external things that are out of our control, the house we live in, the car we drive and the job we have. But if an illness, accident or injury leaves you disabled all of that can change and finding ways to embrace something that causes that is very hard.
I know, for me personally, I went from living alone in a big city and having a full-time job as a qualified nurse to being cared for by my parents and living in my childhood bedroom. I hated that we didn’t know what had caused it or why it happened and I was at first misdiagnosed and given a lot of medication that was not right!
Embracing disability is a continual process, something that comes with grief and acceptance in a society that looks down on us. Disabled people are seen as fakers, too often accused of just wanting to get benefits instead of working. In this environment it can be so difficult to accept and embrace something that you did not choose.
Last month was disability pride month and yet here we are talking about how society sees us, maybe you saw disabled people like that until it happened to you. Too often we are plagued by internalised ableism and force ourselves to struggle instead of asking for help or using aids that would help us.
So, I want to try and talk about the many ways to embrace your disability, whether you are new to this or trying to cope with it still. Let’s look passed the preconcieved assumptions and societal pressures and find some ways to be positive.
Five ways to embrace disability
- Educate – I started this blog, and later my YouTube channel, to try and educate other people. It was a chance for me to talk about my experiences, but also a way to help others either understand about their disability, or what it was like to be disabled. If you are struggling to feel empowered, why not take control and help others? You don’t have to go as far as me, you could join a facebook group and answer questions or sow support to others, or make an Instagram about your experience with your illness. These days you can help others so easily and we are lucky to be able to support and comfort one another through social media. Helping others has been incredibly empowering to me and I love sharing my journey which in turn helps others. This has been such an amazing way I have embraced my chronic illnesses and the disabilities they caused.
- Gadgets and gizmos – there are so many aids out there now that helps us to be independent in a world not created with us in mind. From things that help you open bottles and cans, to electric salt and pepper shakers. Cute mobility aids are also out there which make using them and still looking stylish so much easier. Why struggle, ask around or do a search online, if you struggle with something there will be a solution out there. Making life easier makes it so much easier to also embrace your disabilities.
- More than disabled – This one is not easy sometimes because being disabled impacts every part of your life, but you are more than your illness. I wanted to share about my experiences with disability to help others, but I am not just a disabled woman. I love learning about history, thrifting, witchcraft, and dressing in vintage fashion. Sharing about these sides of me was just as important because once I realised I was more & could show that I started to feel more myself again. So, get some hobbies, find what you love and fill your life up with more than just the disability.
- Talk – This one is important, whether its a family member, online forum, social media or a friend, talk. Chat about how you are feeling, good or bad, be open and honest and get those feelings out. Too often we hold onto negative emotions because we do not want to ‘bother’ those around us with them. But talking about how you feel is so important and cathartic, so make sure you get it out to deal with them in an healthy way and learn to express yourself. In time, those around you will come to understand and help you as they see you embrace and accept.
- Advocate for yourself – There are many medical practitioners who are dismissive or don’t think before they speak to people with long-term health conditions. I have had so many things said to me over the years that I realised the only way to change it was to stand up for myself. Knowing about research, researching my illnesses so I know about them and can explain to them. Advocating and standing up against judgement from medical professionals really helped me gain confidence. I would do this when I was nursing for my patients, and it gave me that feeling again of being in control. Don’t let anyone put you down, having knowledge and awareness is a wonderful way to stand up for yourself.
There are so many ways I could have given in this article, but here are just five ways to embrace disability. I really hope they help you to embrace who you are now and accept society needs to change and that will come from us embracing who we are.
Thank you xx