How To Express Your Feelings When You Have a Disability or a Major Life Change

While adjusting to life with a disability or after a major life change isn’t easy, there are ways to overcome challenges, adapt to limitations, and live a fulfilling life.

Adapting to a New Disability or a Change to Your Life

Adapting to life with a disability or after a change can be challenging. Health is something we often take for granted until it is lost. It’s all too easy to ruminate on what we’ve lost. However, you can change the way you think about and cope with your disability, even though you can’t go back in time to a healthier you. Although you still have control over your life, there are many ways that you can make it more self-sufficient, feel confident, and have a more positive mindset. Regardless of your disability, it is entirely possible to overcome the challenges you face and enjoy a fulfilling life.

We all hope to live long, healthy lives. In other words, when you suffer an injury or illness that leaves you disabled, you are likely to experience a range of disturbing emotions. Understandably, you wonder how you will be able to work, find a relationship, or even be happy again after such an experience. However, living with a disability does not have to be a tragedy. You are not alone. People have travelled this road before you (the WHO estimates that approximately 10% of Australians are disabled) and found ways to live and thrive despite their disabilities. So can you.

Learn to Accept Your Disability or Change

Accepting your disability can be extremely difficult, even if you were born with it. Often, young adults go through a grieving process as they enter puberty and then adulthood. When you accept, you may feel as if you are surrendering and giving up on life. Refusing to accept your limitations keeps you trapped. As a result, you are unable to move forward, make the changes you need to make, and find new goals.

Give Yourself Time to Mourn

The first step to accepting your disability is to grieve. You have been dealt a big loss. You may lose not just your healthy, unlimited body, but also some of your future plans.

Feelings should not be ignored or suppressed. You can’t deal with grief without allowing yourself to feel it and actively deal with it, just as you can’t get over an injury by ignoring it. Feel everything without judging yourself. At this time, it is so important to be gentle with yourself and allow yourself to work through these feelings without guilt or shame.

From anger to sadness to disbelief, you’re likely to feel a roller coaster of emotions. This is completely normal. Just like a roller coaster, the experience is unpredictable and full of ups and downs. You will begin to adjust to your new normal as the lows become less intense with time.

You don’t have to pretend to be happy all the time. Learning to live with a disability is hard work. Bad days don’t mean you aren’t brave or strong. Presuming you’re okay when you’re not doesn’t help anyone, least of all your family and friends. Be honest with the people you trust. It will benefit you and it will assist them in supporting you.

Coming to Terms with Your New Reality

Grieving for the life you lost is healthy, but it’s not healthy to keep wishing for a return to your pre-disability “normal.” As hard as it may be, it’s important to let go of the past and accept the path ahead.

You can still be happy if your body is uncooperative or not functioning as it used to. This may not seem true right now, but the truth is that you can still live a meaningful, happy life even if you can’t walk, hear, or see the way you used to. Finding inspiring stories of people with disabilities who are thriving and living happy, fulfilling lives can be helpful. When you face tough times, you can stay motivated by learning from those who have gone before you.

Don’t think about what you can’t do anymore. You’re sure to get depressed if you spend all your time thinking about the things you’ve lost because of your disability. Take time to mourn, then move forward. Consider what you can do and what you hope to accomplish in the future. By looking forward to what you can accomplish, you will feel more confident.

Get to know your disability as much as possible. Although obsessing over negative medical information is counterproductive, it is important to know what you’re up against. What have you been diagnosed with? When do complications usually appear? It will help you adjust and prepare yourself more quickly if you understand what is happening with your body.

Minimise the Impact of Your Disability or Life Change

You can’t deny that your disability has changed your life significantly. Denying that doesn’t help. Your limitations make life harder. You can reduce the impact of your disability with commitment, creativity, and a willingness to try something new.

Become your own advocate. While navigating life with a disability, including at work and in the healthcare system, you are your own best advocate. You can maximize your power by learning about your rights and the resources you have at your disposal. In addition to feeling less helpless, you will also feel more empowered as you begin to take charge.

Don’t miss out on the opportunities you have. The best way to reduce the impact of your disability on your daily life is to embrace the adaptive technologies and tools that are available to you. Make use of any device that makes living easier for you, such as a prosthetic, a white cane, or a wheelchair. Do not be embarrassed or afraid of being stigmatized. What you use is not what defines you.

Make realistic goals and be patient. People with disabilities must learn new skills and strategies. Additionally, you may have to relearn simple things that you used to take for granted. This can be a frustrating process, and it’s only natural for you to want to speed things up so you can resume normal operations. Be realistic, though. Excessively aggressive goals can lead to setbacks and discouragement. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Take small steps forward. Things will work out eventually.

Ask for Help and Support

A disability can make you feel completely alone and misunderstood. This may lead to you withdrawing from others and isolating yourself. Keeping in touch with others makes a world of difference to your outlook and mood. We are social creatures and need other human connections. Talking things out (using a communication board or sign language if necessary) can help tremendously.

Tips for Finding Help and Support

Invest in the relationships that are important to you. You need to stay connected now more than ever. Staying positive, healthy, and hopeful is made easier by spending time with family and friends. There may be times when you just need someone to vent to or a shoulder to cry on. You should still take time out from time to time to put your disability aside and have fun.

Getting involved in a disability support group. Participating in a support group for people facing similar challenges is an excellent way to combat loneliness and isolation. By participating, you will quickly come to realize that you aren’t alone. Realizing this is the first step. By participating, you will also benefit from what others have to say. You can share challenges, solutions, and encouragement in support groups.

You don’t have to be weak to accept help. The refusal to get the assistance you need can delay your progress or worsen your health. If you ask for help, you will not be looked upon with pity. Enlist the help of those who love you. Not only will you benefit, but they will also feel better. Ad one day, you will be extremely helpful to others who are new to this journey.

A mental health professional may be able to help. It can be hugely helpful to talk to someone about how you’re feeling. You may wish to talk to a therapist as well, even if you have loved ones who can provide great support in this way. You can work through your grief with the right therapist and reframe your outlook in a more positive, realistic way.

Finding Meaning and Purpose in Your Life

Many aspects of your identity can be eroded as a result of a disability or life change, leaving you to wonder who you are, what your value is, and where you fit into your friend group, family, and society. When you’re not able to do the same work or activities as you used to, it’s easy to feel useless and empty. It’s important to find new ways to feel good about yourself-things that give you a renewed sense of meaning and purpose.

Join a Volunteer Program

You can feel more productive and make a difference by volunteering. Despite limited mobility or being unable to work, it is something you can do. You can get involved by picking a cause you are passionate about. You can do many of these jobs from home – many of which are available to you.

Engage in a New Hobby

It is possible to become unable to participate in some of the activities you once enjoyed because of a disability. However, staying engaged will make an enormous difference to your mental health. Take advantage of this opportunity to develop new interests or to participate differently in old favourites.

Help Others

Being disabled often meansEt accepting a lot of help from family and friends. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is still nice to find ways to reciprocate. If you’re good with computers, you might be able to help a family member who’s tech-challenged. Your friends may know they can turn to you when they need someone to talk to when they’re feeling down. Thank-you cards and genuine compliments are important, no matter how small they may seem.

Take Care of an Animal

You can get out of yourself by caring for a pet and experience a sense of belonging by doing so. Although animals cannot replace human connection, they can bring joy and companionship into your life and reduce feelings of loneliness. Volunteering at an animal shelter or veterinary office is another way to get animal companionship if you’re not able to have a pet.

Prioritize Your Health to Heal and Engage with Your Circle

Regular exercise, a healthy diet, sufficient sleep, and effective stress management will help you feel your best.

Exercise

Any exercise you can get is important. Besides being good for your body, it is also essential for mental well-being. Exercise reduces anxiety and depression, relieves tension and stress, and improves sleep. Physical fitness will also make you feel stronger and more confident.

Begin small and work your way up. Do not jump into a strenuous routine too quickly. That could result in injury or discouragement. Consider ways to incorporate more physical activity into your day in small, incremental steps.

Make exercising fun by finding creative ways to do it. Focus on finding those activities you can do instead of dwelling on the ones you can’t. In most cases, you can find a way to exercise, no matter how limited your mobility is.

Pay attention to your body. Exercising shouldn’t hurt or make you feel lousy. You should stop exercising and contact your physician if you feel dizzy, short of breath, experience chest pain or pressure, or break out in a cold sweat.

You shouldn’t compare yourself to others (or to your past self). Never compare yourself with others, even those with disabilities similar to yours. Do not discourage yourself by comparing your current situation with what you were like before your disability.

Get Optimal Health and Energy by Eating Well

Everyone should eat nutritiously-and even more so when you have physical limitations or health problems. When you eat well, you will have more energy and be healthier, which will allow you to participate in the activities you want to and reach your goals. With a disability, eating healthy isn’t always easy, but even small changes can improve your health.

After eating, pay attention to how you feel. After eating a healthy, balanced meal, you’ll notice that you feel more energetic and satisfied. On the other hand, junk food and unhealthy options don’t make you feel as good as healthy foods do. By becoming aware, you can practice healthy eating habits and develop new tastes.

Consume plenty of high-quality protein. A healthy immune system depends on protein. Make sure you focus on organic, grass-fed meat and dairy products, fish, beans, nuts, seeds, and tofu.

Keep refined carbs and sugar to a minimum. If you crave sugary snacks, baked goods, or comfort foods like pasta or French fries, you’ll soon experience a slump in mood and energy. Avoid these foods as much as possible.

Hydrate

Make sure you drink plenty of water. When your body is properly hydrated, it will perform at its best. But many people do not get enough fluids. You don’t feel good when you’re dehydrated. Drinking water also flushes our systems of waste products and toxins.

Get Plenty of Sleep

Toxins need to be flushed out and the brain needs to be protected through sufficient sleep. The average adult should sleep 7 to 9 hours per night. Set a regular sleep schedule, do relaxing bedtime rituals such as taking a bath or stretching before bed, and turn off all screens at least an hour before bed.

Managing Stress

Stress can make many symptoms worse, so it’s important to find ways to cope with stress, like practicing relaxation techniques, finding a healthy work-life balance, and learning healthier coping mechanisms.

When You’ve Suffered a Loss

When we think of loss, we think of someone we love passing away, but can other things also be regarded as losses?

  • Changing jobs, relationships, and our daily routines
  • Being prevented from making our own choices, going where we choose, and seeing who we choose
  • Concerned about our identity and place in the world.

Does this sound familiar? A lot of us experience grief in this way. The loss of our normal lives grieves us, and we are uncertain of when, and if, things will return to normal.

Disability can make this more challenging for people. It might be difficult for you to understand, communicate, or express your grief.

To cope with this time and understand your feelings, there are things you can do. If you are supporting someone with a disability, you can acknowledge and respond to their feelings.

The Signs That Someone is Grieving

If grief is what you are going through or someone you know is going through, how do you tell?

Grief can be dealt with in a variety of ways:

  • Not being able to concentrate or remember things, feeling distracted
  • Angry, guilty, hopeless, and sad feelings
  • Sleep patterns and appetites change.

Loss affects us all differently. Among the things you might hear or say are:

  • Reassuring yourself – “It’ could be worse.”
  • Expressed anger or frustration – “I hate being around you all the time.”
  • Expressed fear, sadness, or hopelessness – “I’m going to die alone.”

Can You Do Anything?

The first thing you need to understand if you feel grief is that these are all normal responses to loss. It is sometimes enough to understand why you feel the way you do and to accept it.

Get in Touch with Someone

Can you talk to someone about how you are feeling? You might receive some helpful advice if you tell someone else what you are going through.

If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs more intense resources, you can also call the following helplines for support:

Keep Living Your Life!

Which of your normal activities are you missing the most? You can do things differently, such as having a social catch-up over a video call, an at-home coffee date with a friend, or an online yoga session. Getting creative is a must when adapting to a life change but pursuing the things you love to do.

Is there a new skill you’ve always wanted to try? By going after this new way of life, you can get back in touch with your old self and challenge yourself in new ways. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you’re taking time for yourself, and reaching out when you need to talk out your feelings!

Connect Today!

Complete Connect is an Australia Wide NDIS Registered Provider. We provide allied health, daily in-home support and nursing to assist you in achieving complete wellness, care and your personal goals.

For more information about our mission to deliver complete wellness in all areas of each participant’s life, or to join our community, visit our website or contact the Complete Care team by phone on 1300082682. You can also reach us via email at info@completeconnect.com.au. We look forward to hearing from you!

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