Getting a diagnosis of a disability can be devastating news. There are overwhelming emotions of shock, disbelief, anxiety, fear, and despair.
After battling through the many emotions, you’ll wonder “What now?” Here are 5 encouraging bits of guidance:
1) Give Yourself Time
Allow yourself time to come to terms with the disability. You’ll go through various emotional stages and they’ll likely repeat themselves as there may be “trigger” moments.
One day you may be accepting and fine with your disability, the next you’ll be angry and upset.
This is perfectly normal, and the expression “Take it one day at a time” rings true here.
2) Be In The Now
Often with a new disability you may start regretting things you hadn’t done before the diagnosis, or start being scared of the future.
Playing the “if only” game does nothing but stunt your progress. You need to learn to live in the present and be grateful for everything you have now.
Celebrate the little things happening now. Positive thinking will actually help in your progress to improve life with the disability.
3) You Are Not Alone
You may feel like you’re all alone with this disability, as you’re the only one of your family and friends to have it.
But you’re not. There’s a world out there full of other people with the same diagnosis. Seek them out. Search for agencies, support groups and chatrooms for others with the same diagnosis, and connect with them.
Finding others who are going through the same struggles can not only uplift you, making you feel less alone, it can also serve as a fantastic pool of resources for learning how others cope, and the tools they use — physical, psychological and emotional — for creating a better life for themselves. Plus, you’ll inevitably find yourself helping others, which always feels good.
4) Learn All You Can
You may not know anything about your new disability, or have misconceptions and stereotyped beliefs of that disability.
Find out everything about your disability, its cause and prognosis. Find an agency to teach you new living skills.
Learn about technology, medication, treatments and such to help you live your life to the fullest every day.
5) Be An Advocate
Learn to stand up for yourself and your needs. If you have worked your way through all the previous stages, you’ll learn what you need, physically and emotionally.
There’ll be people — family and friends too — that will be negative, overprotective, dismissive, or even patronizing. You’ll need to be strong for yourself and teach them how they should be treating you, in the most diplomatic way possible. If that doesn’t work, you should feel NO guilt about letting these toxic people go.
Being disabled should not be a prison term, but a new evolution of your life. Things may never be the same as before, but new adventures, new people and a new strengths will emerge. Trust me, I know.
It will be alright.