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The Importance of Independence When You Have a Disability

Photo by Elevate on Unsplash

Whether you’ve been coping with a disability or chronic illness for a long time, or it’s a recent change in your life, one of the biggest hurdles to overcome is regaining your independence and freedom. It doesn’t seem like the most pressing issue, especially if you’re coping with chronic pain and potentially added risks to your life, but it can have a massive impact on your quality of life.

This article is going to explore the issue of independence as a disabled person, as well as how you can explore your boundaries and gain more freedom.

Accepting Limitations

First things first, different people have different circumstances, which means that they can attain different levels of independence. But bear in mind that nobody is truly independent. We all need people. It’s easy to forget if you haven’t enjoyed perfect health for a long time, but humans live in a society for a reason. There’s nothing wrong with needing help.

There’s also nothing wrong with needing more help than someone else. It can be harmful or even dangerous to insist on doing everything yourself. The trick is finding a balance and not comparing yourself to other people.

Even someone with the same diagnosis might have a different experience. 

Independence and Mental Health

For many people, a lack of independence can massively impact their mental health. This, in turn, can have a feedback loop where you might even experience more issues with your physical health.

This is especially true with conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome, where you’re not just exhausted all the time, but you might be in pain. CFS (or ME) is also an invisible condition, so onlookers might not understand, leading you to have more problems with expectations.

Speak to people about how you feel and how they can help you. Sometimes it’s more beneficial for someone to let you take slightly longer to do something yourself, rather than doing everything for you.

Mobility Aids

One great step towards more independence is mobility aids and additions to those aids depending on your circumstances. Assistive devices can help you get around with less pain, and some people might use them to cook and clean themselves. This means that someone who might otherwise need care can live alone and look after themselves.

Explore different aids and new things that might help you. For example, a power assist wheelchair attachment can be helpful if you struggle to use your wheelchair on your own. Rather than needing someone to push you, the attachment allows you to have more control.

Physical Therapy and Exercise

Some injuries and conditions can improve with the right medical care and treatment. Physical therapy, for example, can help your body regain functionality and adjust to an injury or weakness to a body part. Even if you don’t heal completely, you can regain a lot of freedom this way.

It’s always important to follow the advice of medical professionals in this case, and do research so you push yourself the right way.

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  • Kaz

    Very wise words. I do have a tendency to try to do everything myself, when sometimes it would be more beneficial to have help. I have been told recently I need to ask for/accept help more often.

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