I am too thin, I hate my hair, I am not pretty enough… We all have a mental image of ourselves that begins to develop when we are very young and continues to grow and change as we age. That self image does not always fit in with what we, or society, consider to be normal, acceptable or attractive.
Depression when you are dealing with a new disability from within a wheelchair can be devastating to your self-image. Don’t try to cope with everything on your own. Seeking help is a powerful thing to do; it is the first step to making a change.
Tips for Dealing with a New Disability Within a Wheelchair
1. There is a grieving process that you go through when abilities are taken away. Grief, denial, anger, depression, figuring out a new way to live, and finally acceptance. Some never get past the first few steps. Sometimes it takes years to integrate your new body into your self-concept. There is not a scheduled timetable for recovery.
2. The journey you are embarking on is a well-traveled one, and those who made that journey before you are your peers. Being open-minded and willing to accept their guidance is critical. If you listen and accept the knowledge of your peers, you will be on your way to becoming truly independent.
3. Remember, no one is fully independent; we are all interdependent. Everyone, everyday or at some point, relies on other people.
4. Give yourself kudos for the things you are good at. Perhaps you are a good listener, a generous person, or a great cook. Value these qualities, and remind yourself of them often. Have a positive self-talk. Help others using these talents.
5. Don’t be harsh on yourself. We all have strengths and weaknesses. There are things we are just not good at, don’t consider them failures. Focus on your strengths.
6. As you learn to accept yourself as you are, regardless of the size and shape of your body or the number of limbs you have, you will be ready to try new things and set new goals. Remember, confidence is a state of mind!!!
7. Sometimes people are obnoxious and thoughtless… It isn’t about you — it is about the ignorance and social ineptitude of the offender.
8. Find a local group of people with disabilities to hang out with! Drive around through investing in a wheelchair vehicle with hand controls. If you don’t have the means to acquire a vehicle, join an online community for those with disabilities.
9. Whether we have disabilities or not, we all have hopes, dreams, and plans. You may now have to adjust those hopes, dreams and plans. That is the nature of life.
10. Remember to be happy for what you do have, not for what you don’t. Focus on the positive!
Use these tips to help overcome the depression of dealing with a new disability such as being in a wheelchair. Don’t be afraid to reach out and get help.