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Don’t let disability disable your spirit

Life is uncertain. And, it throws at you uncertainties that you can never really be prepared for; unexpected turns of life that instantly shatter all dreams and hopes for the future. They don’t just derail your life but can also have you sink into a bottomless pit of negativity and pessimism. One of the biggest uncertainties that man must deal with is the sudden onset of physical disability. Questions such as “Why me?” “What now?” “What’s the point of living a life such as this?”, plague the mind and add to the challenge.

While disability is traumatising, it needn’t be the end of the world. With a few changes to the mindset, attitude, and lifestyle, one can start life afresh and not just survive but thrive. Support from family, friends, and caregivers further makes it a little more bearable. Soulveda takes a dive into this ‘bottomless pit’ to emerge with a perspective that keeps the spirit unbreakable, and the mind undefeated.

Take time to grieve for what has happened

“Disability is a loss and you deal with it the same way as you would with the loss of a valuable object or person,” says Dr Ruchi Gupta, consultant psychiatrist at St Philomena’s hospital in Bangalore. Since the situation can’t be reversed, instead of being consumed by the adversity, it is better to allow oneself the time and space to grieve for what has happened.

The road to recovery begins with acceptance

Everyone wishes to live a normal life. However, a sudden onset of a disability can disrupt lives, dreams, and goals. How does one cope with it? “There are four stages to coping with a disability—denial, self-pity, anger, intellectual acceptance of the problem and emotional insight,” explains Dr Gupta. Naturally, losing the ability to do function normally can be the most devastating experience of life—one that perpetuates frustration, and a complete denial of the situation. “The frustration can convert into self-pity, depression, and anger towards yourself or the person whose negligence might have led to the disability or even towards a higher power,” she explains. But acceptance comes in slowly as the anger subsides.

Dr Gupta adds that it is important to accept disability at an intellectual level first and then at an emotional level for it to translate into a behavioural change. Only through acceptance, one can begin to overcome the challenge and hope to find some peace.

challenges in life

Challenges should never disable the spirit

Reach out to those you trust

It’s natural to feel more vulnerable and hopeless in the face of disability. But reaching out to those we trust and depend on, can help reduce the weight of such grave adversity. The French movie The Intouchables has the perfect perspective to it. ‘Sometimes, you have to reach into someone else’s world to find out what’s missing in your own.’

Set small goals, take big leaps

After acceptance comes action—taking small steps for big leaps. Although rebuilding life after disability looks scary and seems impossible, it is important to remember disability is not inability. Setting small goals every day can go a long way to bring back life on track. For instance, spending 15 minutes in a gymnasium under an expert’s supervision or practising healing art forms like Tai Chi with family or friends.

Practise the attitude of patience  

To ensure constructive steps are taken every day towards healing and recovery, exercise patience. Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting. It is not just the individual with a disability but their families and friends too, who should demonstrate patience and a positive attitude. “It propels one from the stage of a victim to that of a victor,” says Dr Gupta.

patience

To ensure constructive steps are taken every day towards healing and recovery, exercise patience.

Let love heal the wounds

Disability is a big word, but it isn’t bigger than the bond one shares with the loved ones. Family and friends can extend their love and support in many forms—by accompanying them to the rehabilitation centre, driving them around, or just by sitting with them in a park. Until there is love, there will be hope. Be it depression, stress, or meltdowns, love, gentle care and support from the near and dear ones is sometimes more powerful than medicine.

Take charge of your destiny

At times, life’s turns seem unfair. When disability hits a life, it leaves behind negative emotions and feelings and breaks the will to push forward. A fresh start and a changed outlook can help rediscover the zest for life. To know that we alone are in control of our destiny, is perhaps, the most empowering feeling.

Physicist and author Stephen Hawking rightly said: “My advice to other disabled people would be to concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit as well as physically.”

There are numerous extraordinary stories of ordinary people, who charted out a whole new course for themselves after being struck with a disability. They refused to give up, no matter how difficult the situation was. Their belief in themselves, along with their courage and perseverance was stronger than the weight of their disability. Stephen Hawking, actor Christopher Reeve, former US president Franklin D Roosevelt, mountaineer Arunima Sinha are a few such people, who despite their disabilities, not only made leaps in their journeys but also soared like an eagle.

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