If you listened to the latest BBC Ouch Podcast here: I wanted to share some thoughts I didn’t get the opportunity to share on the shows. Other BBC Ouch shows wellbeing has been discussed by Mel Halacre are Other BBC Ouch shows wellbeing has been discussed by Mel Halacre are here, here and here.
Emotional impact of disability – Disability can impact on us in many ways. For those acquiring an impairment, one of the hardest things, harder usually than your relationship with your new body, seems to be how to deal with being ‘relegated’ to the margins of society, realising that disabled people are treated differently and are often oppressed. Having to learn ways to deal with this without wanting to, it can be hard and can have an emotional and even physical impact on us: it can make the symptoms of impairment worse (things like pain or fatigue).
So, how keep steady? But there are many ways to keep looking after ourselves. Using the battery metaphor I often talk about, if we see ourselves as batteries, there are many things taking our energy, some we have no control over (e.g. assessments with professionals), but some we do. There are opportunities to cut out drains we can control such as negative relationships.
We can also learn ways to deal with many disability related issues, whether that’s impairment related like pain/fatigue or ways to deal with other people (e.g. patronising, silencing, discrimination). Mindfulness is banded around SO much nowadays it almost seems hard to take the word seriously. And yet, being able to take a step back from one’s thoughts, being able to take a breath before we respond, being able to make the most of every day and our precious time on earth even if our bodies cause us pain, realising we don’t have to accept the negative criticism we or others give ourselves, but being able to choose HOW to think and respond to ourselves, wow, that sounds like it could help doesn’t it?
Besides being more mindful of EVERY SINGLE DAY, we need to look at ways to put energy back in our batteries. Yes, this takes time, but we’re in this thing for the long haul, so we have the time. Make yourself and action plan on how you can change just one thing on this list:
♫ Can you transform an old skill or hobby into something else?
♫ Can you learn new skills to reduce pain or fatigue or be less affected by the drip drip effect of negative disability messages?
♫ What is disability is teaching you? Assessors like to focus on the CAN’Ts, what about the CANs?
♫ Can you make a list of what you CAN control and change one of these?
♫ Where can you meet people who make you feel good about yourself?
♫ Can you increase your resilience through healing nutrition, exercise or giving back?
What about when your condition changes? My therapist reminded me that where for example someone with an acute illness has time to heal, lick their wounds and recover at the end of their treatment, living with disability or chronic conditions means you’re not afforded that opportunity. Had to get rid of a PA? No time to reflect, must crack on and find a new one! But where is the opportunity to grieve, to be angry, to cry about what happened? All this stuff gets shoved under the carpet until your mind and body forces you to take notice and usually this doesn’t happen in a helpful way. Better to make a conscious choice to create that opportunity, make regular time to be ours true selves, to allow our emotions to be felt and acknowledged safely, because that’s all they want those icky emotions…they just need to be ‘in motion’. This keeps our batteries fuller and helps to recharge our adrenal glands so we are in a better place to deal with the next challenge.
As always, we KNOW this process isn’t easy and needs constant work and you may need support from us or another support worker at some point (read my blog on marginal gains here), which is OK. Disability is a complex things and it needs time…
If you are unable to afford our 1-2-1 support (we have no funding at present) but connect to what I’ve written above that sometimes you need someone alongside you to encourage and challenge you to make changes, please do join our more affordable Wellbeing Community & Programme here.
Thanks for reading, Mel