Having a disability is like having a superpower!
A few nights back I was talking to someone online to meet. I thought things were going well enough to tell him that I have a disability from a stroke. He just ghosted me. This is not the first time, it’s happened time and time again. I would have ghosted someone too before I had a disability. Having a disability has humbled my views towards those with a disability because I have six impairments both physical and chronic illness. It hurts!
People with disabilities live life with strength and determination despite daily life challenges, such as fatigue and needing help to do daily tasks. Here’s what you can learn from people with disability.
- We can smile and laugh at ourselves
We use humour as a way of acceptance of our disability and turning a negative into a positive. Humour is a part of our well-being. I think if we don’t laugh we would cry. Choose how you want to live life, depressed or see the funny side of your experiences? There are many times when I’ve had to laugh at myself when I lost balance and fell in a not so gracious way.
2. Happiness is possible in a ‘broken’ body
Before having a stroke I believed that having a disability meant that you have failed at life, which is diabolical to think now. There’s that saying that we would rather die than have a disability, but having a disability doesn’t mean we curl up and wait to die. In fact, we chose to be happy. Happiness comes from relationships and positive self-talk. I believed that I was doomed and would never find happiness again after the stroke but I have found happiness through relationships and achieving goals while living in community.
3. Patience is our friend
Patience helps develop a healthy attitude and improves the ability to accept setbacks, persevere, enjoy life more and make productive decisions. As a kid, you’re taught how important patience is, as an adult, you understand it. Being disabled you have to learn an extreme form of patience. I had to be in a wheelchair at the beginning of my recovery in rehab. The wheelchair was not electric so I had to rely on the nurses to take me where I wanted to go and wait for the occupational therapist to finish with her other patients to help me have a shower. Over time we become masters at honing in on it. I had to get over my physical and emotional inabilities by learning patience as I came to understand my disability through the rehabilitation unit. This is as I tested my physical limits and came to accept them.
4. Our ability to prioritise- Don’t sweat the small stuff!
Prioritise is defined as what is most important in the action and the process of deciding the relative importance or urgency of tasks or actions. You are responsible for your personable prioritization of tasks. What do you classify as most important? For me, I prioritise getting my prescription filled over getting takeaways and I prioritised being able to walk instead of rehabilitating the function of my left arm.
5. Understanding that life can change in a minute
Chronic disability impacts your quality of life. Prioritisation is important also, such as having a decreased range of motion and other physical limitations. Another important significance is If you are no longer able to work, you’ll have financial difficulties. I use to work as a Youth Worker, but since my stroke, I have had to change careers because of fatigue and my physical disability. Life is short. Embrace everything.
6. Having a disability is an opportunity
Since my stroke I wrote my autobiography, I have a blog teaching resilience and what life is like living with chronic illness and disability. You learn to become your own advocate as you negotiate the challenges of life with a disability, using your disability as an opportunity to teach others. Knowledge is power, so the more you know the better educator you are. Another opportunity is may have the capacity to give back to those who help you. When you’re disabled, you often must accept a lot of help from friends and family. While this is not a bad thing, it can still feel good when you find ways to reciprocate. For example, maybe you’re a good listener and your friends know they can count on you when they need someone to talk to. Even things as small as a thank-you card or a genuine compliment.
7. Being an individual is cool
Most people don’t like being different or standing out. Being the same as others is boring! Your disability makes you unique. I have tattoos of my multiple surgeries, including a brain that represents my stroke, and is on my left which is the side that has been affected. When you live the life as someone who’s different, you learn right away it has its cool moments, such as meeting amazing people and getting in on special opportunities. Having a disability makes you be noticed by others and they may think you are inspiring, living the life that you are.
8. You can’t judge a person by their looks.
We all know the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. Don’t ever think a disability is equitable to someone who is not impressive or successful. You never know what someone with a disability can do. Teach others that despite our disability we get up every day, working towards a goal. I also want to point out that a disability can be identified as an invisible illness. I did an experiment where I got a bus once without my walking stick and no one offered me a disability seat whereas I took my walking stick onto the bus and others offered me a disability seat.
9 Vulnerability is another superpower
Being weak or disabled isn’t a negative. Living with a disability, you learn to put your guard down, accept that you need help with certain tasks and come to realise that we all need help in our own way. Having a disability is a challenge but the are perks such as getting you to get a VIP experience, such as going to the front of the line, people holding doors open for you and free parking
The definition of disability includes physical, developmental, behavioural or emotional, and sensory impaired disorder. (2022). In my experience talking to men online, they’re interested till I tell them I’m disabled. To the person online, why are you afraid of someone who has a disability? You don’t even know me, so why discriminate.
I want you to think that we are more than what you think, we have to fight more to get to our goal. Put yourself in our shoes would you like it if someone rejected you just for your disability before they get to know you. I strongly believe that you could learn from someone with a disability, that it’s not our fault but we want to get up of our arses and work to achieve the goal we want so badly despite what we endure.