Learning to accept my disability

It has taken me a very long time to accept that I have a disability. After 3 years I have accepted there is no easy fix. Indeed, there may not even be a fix and I am struggling. Struggling to adapt to my new situation and struggling to accept my disability as being part of who I am now.

What is a disability?

Under the Equality act of 2010 you are disabled if

you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.

After realising I fitted this criteria my husband encourage me to claim for PIP (personal independence payment). There are many horror stories about claims being denied to people in need but thankfully, for me, it was a very straightforward process. I provided the latest surgeons report and was accepted after a face to face meeting. After a further application to the council I received my blue badge. I have to be honest and admit I am in the minority for how smoothly this went and I still don’t understand how the fact I can use a computer proves my disability doesn’t affect my mentally?

Learning to accept my disability

 

Anger

Seeing it in black and white that I am officially classed as having a disability has made me angry. I am angry at myself. Angry at my body and angry at the adaptions I have to make to lead my life. I want to slap the children who tease my children about having a disabled Mom. There is an urge to get out of the car and give a piece of my mind to those who stare when we pull into a disabled bay. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when little old ladies walk past me and leave me for dust on the pavement. The mothers who tut when I cannot get past their pushchairs or trip over their runaway toddlers leave me flushed with embarrassment. The “Why are you still on crutches?” questions make me want to cry. It is not a choice.

Own worst enemy

I hate to ask for help. Offers to do the school run have previously been refused because I am too proud (and stupid) to admit that I need help. I will do things around the house that leave me crying with pain because I don’t want to be a burden. I want to be seen to pull my own weight. Lately though, everything has taken a turn for the worse and I have had to start asking for help. And boy does it stick in my throat.

No more school runs for me. I need to make adaptations around the house too. I struggle to cook dinner or do the ironing because I simply cannot stand long enough. Nobody wants to do the cooking or ironing but I feel like I should or I will be failing as a wife and a mom. My family deserve better and shouldn’t have to adapt their lives to enable me to live mine.

Learning to accept my disability

I have got to get a grip and accept that this is my new reality. There is no magic cure. My proposed hip surgery has no guarantees but the alternative operation is risky. My recent knee injuries have made everything worse and at the moment there is no end point. I have to accept this but also hang on to the fact that there is a possibility that surgery will  help and in a year or so, after very intensive rehab I might be able to walk unaided.

So many have worse disabilities and I know I am fortunate in many ways. I can’t speak for others and how they feel. Many people with disabilities live fabulous, active lives and I admire their get up and go attitude. I can only hope that once I have processes how I am feeling now my attitude will change. Maybe it is like the stages of grief and I have to go through denial and anger and bargaining before I can accept my disability. And without trying to sound trite, it is a kind of grief.

I am grieving for the life I had and the life I expected to live.

Down but not out

It came as quite a shock to realise that I hadn’t updated for 2 months. I cannot say that I was absent because I was having a marvellous time. Unfortunately the opposite is true. Life has been very hard lately. As a family we have suffered a bereavement, life threatening illnesses and struggles with disability. It has not been an easy road and my mood has suffered. I have taken time to think, to wallow somewhat and to adjust to our changing landscape but also to slow down and really absorb and appreciate what we have. I’m down but not out. Things will pick up and starting to write again is a step towards a return to normality.

Woman raising her fists. Down but not outPhoto by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

Grief

It didn’t occur to me until recently that grief can take many forms and there are different things we grieve for. At the moment we are grieving in the traditional sense for a lost relative and I think in a strange way this is the easiest emotion to understand.

Grief when someone is seriously ill is a whole new ballgame and something I had not encountered before now. It doesn’t make sense and that makes it harder to deal with. You find yourself grieving for events that you assumed would happen. How can we grieve for something that hasn’t happened? For memories we just assumed our children would make? I don’t think I am explaining it well and that’s why it’s so hard to deal with if you cannot even voice it.

I am also grieving for the loss of my mobility. It sounds selfish and self indulgent but I am angry at my body. I long to be pain free. This isn’t the life I thought I would have and I resent the cards that I have been dealt. I want to be that person who accepts their situation with grace but I am not there yet. It is a work in progress.

Down but not out

Everything seems so very different from when I started the year full of plans for the months ahead. It would be easy to allow this sad turn of events define how we progress throughout the rest of the year. But we cannot. There is so much joy in life. When you are grieving you have to look a bit harder to find it but rest assured that it is still there.

I have been spending a lot of time doing things for myself to improve my mood. Some have been more successful than others. Sitting in the garden and simply watching the birds has given me an unexpected boost. I am scared of birds so how this helps is anyone’s guess but it goes to show that sometimes we have to take a leap to find our happy place.

Best foot forward

This subheading really appeals to my dark sense of humour.  I am literally struggling to put one foot in front of the other at the moment. I won’t let it stop me though. I will just get there at my own pace. I am definitely the tortoise rather than the hare  but perhaps that is a good thing? I have time to examine my surroundings and to savour the good things in our life. I may not be as quick as I want to be but every step forward that I take is a triumph. I can say with certainty that I may be down but I am definitely not out.

 What do you do to lift your mood when you are feeling low?