It took me a while to realize that I have depression, even before this COVID-19 situation happened. What I experienced before was a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. I did not want to move. I did not want to wake up. I did not want to attend to my kids. I did not even like to eat, take a bath, talk to others, or just stand up. No one could talk me into moving, but my grandmother. She lives in another state and would call me – “Deng, what’s happening to you? You have little kids to take care of. C’mon. Get up.”
It was not long ago that people often talk so much about obesity. In some of the years way back, it is a condition that makes individuals different from the rest of the crowd. It is nothing comparable to being special because those years made it sure that being overweight is somehow an issue. However, not long after fast-food chains, junk foods, and processed foods became a hit; nobody talks about obesity as a taboo anymore. A lot of people began to understand that obesity is a lifestyle choice. But after that acceptance, society then shifted its outlook into the subject of disability. Individuals began to see it as something that is widely open to public discourse. “Physical disability reminds the able bodied of our frailty and mortality, and mental disability gives us a glimpse into the invisible yet damaging world of cognitive and emotional distress,” Ryan Howes PhD, ABPP explains.
Honestly, there is nothing wrong with the public taking an effort in putting disability on a hot topic. But the problem is, people’s comments about a particular disability issue often cover as either a compliment or an insult. That is the reason why persons with a disability find it hard to decide how to respond and engage in a particular situation. There is no assurance that what the other people are saying is something offensive or not.
According to Ruth M. H. Peters and co-authors, “Persons affected by leprosy or by disabilities face forms of stigma that have an impact on their lives.”People talking about disability as if it is something that takes over the world is a bit exaggerated. Real talk, society is looking at its condition as something that is unprogressive, pitiful, and burden. People telling how lucky disabled persons are for surviving their situations will never say it without thinking how they wish God forbids the condition will happen to them. See, that is how the public creates this biased concern towards those individuals with a disability. Honestly, the public can genuinely care. However, most of the time, they do it not because they see that person as equally capable as them. But instead, caring for the disabled persons often comes with pity, responsibility, and sometimes the fear of becoming one. Check out BetterHelp‘s articles about how disabled persons are treated indiferently.
Well, persons with disabilities cannot complain, right? Because instead of them trying to disregard the help, it is way much better if they accept it. People who are disabled fully understand that they need help. They understand that they need to be there for themselves because soon, people will eventually pull back from the obligation. Therefore, the issue of portraying strength and ability is always a different side of the story. But how does the public see it? Well, the truth is, able people can choose to either give a damn or not. They can decide not to care and only talk about it when they want to discuss something related to disability. From there, individuals can get the concept that disability for these people, seems to become a choice, same as obesity. But we all know it is not.
Society’s unacceptable view of people with disability is not something anyone of us can erase instantly. The judgments, insults, exaggeration, all of these are the growing parts of it. No one will say that they care because they feel like bothering. No one will admit that how they see and treat persons with disabilities is related to their personality. Society care for these disabled people because at the back of their minds, these individuals are and will always be “incapable.” But Elizabeth Mazur, Ph.D. seeks for societal progress, “Let living with a disability be a source of value, meaning, and pride.”
Being a disabled person, I always knew I was different. Having no arms and legs, things are quite different from the way I see it. I am fully aware that I cannot do things that ordinary people can because I am without limbs. I cannot run, walk, hold items with my hands, and assist myself for that matter. Regardless of that unfortunate instance, it won’t stop me from believing that life will be better someday. I always knew that the more I picture how good life is, the more I can have a better chance of living happily.
It is not easy to handle things with care. Quite a few times, I feel anxious about things, and I get depressed for being incapable. My emotional aspects seemed triggered because I try to set my mind to accept things exactly to be the way they are, even if it hurts deeply. I often question why things like this happen to me. But since I receive no answer, I quit complaining. Because what for? The emotional and mental torture is nothing but a burden, and I realized that I do not want that anymore. BetterHelp made me realized that I deserve to live life the way I wanted.
“The more distress there is in one’s life, the greater the impact on daily functioning and overall quality of life,” writes Mark Borigini M.D.
The struggle of not being able to do a lot of things affects my life in a way it affects others as well. I get lonely, sad, and hurt because other people won’t stop staring at me. They believe they have the right to feel sorry for my condition. Should I thank them? Should I feel sorry for myself too? I think not. Although I fully understand that most of them mean no harm, I can help myself but to think what would it be like if things weren’t like this. No, it is not a negative mindset. I am only trying to imagine life in a better view. There are things I believe I can do my way.
“If you let yourself rail against the universe and fall into a virulent case of self-pity—become a victim – you’ll stay depressed,” writes Russell Grieger Ph.D.
You see, the thing that keeps me going is the image I have created in my mind. I have this list of things I want to do that I know I can’t. But it doesn’t matter. I still hold onto those dreams that someday I will be able to accomplish it no matter what. I might not have my arms and legs with me, but I still got my brain and my heart. So, nothing is entirely missing at some point. I can always love the people around me, and I can still manage to laugh and smile. So yes, I am still good with life.
Having a disability is not something someone would wish to have. But if in case it happens, the only thing one should remember is how to be himself. The disability should not become him at any cost. A person must stay focused on his ability to communicate and express himself, regardless of the circumstances. As for me, I don’t like it that I am only limited to do stuff. But I don’t complain about it that much either. One thing I learned from my situation is that the less I complain, the happier I become. There are not many emotional and mental issues every time I stay positive.
“If you realize that yes, you do complain a lot and see that it is bringing down those close to you, it may be time for you to drill into the source of your own state of affairs,” writes Robert Taibbi L.C.S.W.
Different conditions cause blindness to people. It could be genetics, infection, chronic disease, and so on. It becomes a disability because the eyes are an essential thing that allows people to function suitably. So without vision, things can be a little different and hard. The people who have vision loss tend to make specific life-changing decisions and adjustments. We know not all of those adjustments are easy. But looking at a different angle where blind people picture life, let’s understand how some misconceptions are not what we think they are.
A Blind Person Have Stronger Balance
People believe in the idea that once a person loses one of his senses, his other senses tend to improve in multiple ways. Well, there can be truth to this statement. However, that only goes to individuals who practice their other physical senses rigorously. Meaning, the chances of getting enhanced sense skills after losing one depends on a person’s motivation to improve a particular sense. Meaning, the skill sense enhancements do not happen automatically. So the idea of a blind person getting a stronger balance is not at all accurate. Blind people are not able to see things around them, which makes them more vulnerable to accidents.
A Blind Person Is Still Capable Of Doing Everything
As much as people want to put a positive attitude towards a blind individual, no one can assume that a disabled person can still do a lot of things. Yes, that is a good start of mind-condition tactics to help a blind person to become aware of his physical state. However, a false hope that someone gives to him will do nothing. It is essential to understand that though blindness is not at all a hindrance to living, it is something that stops a person from doing risky things. People should consider thinking about reality instead of focusing on impractical chances they wish a blind individual would take.
A Blind Person’s Eyes Matter
This type of blindness misconception can be the most irritating and annoying thing that a blind individual will have to deal with. People assume that to be considered blind; one must look only in a specific direction. Therefore, a person who can invariably look from right to left gets questioned for the legality of his blindness. Aside from that, there is this people’s mentality that only those unusual colored eyes are immediately considered blind. So for a person who doesn’t have a red, white, or grey dot on his eyes, things can get a little too judgmental. For some people, an eye that looks normal and functioning is not at all blind.
It is not always that people automatically get and understand the condition of blind people. I must say, the misconceptions are there because that is how society imprinted it in everyone’s minds. The stereotypes and all the judgment somehow managed to pass through generations. But the most important aspect that people need to consider is the blind people’s thoughts, opinions, and reality.
I am a disabled person, but I do not want to look at myself like that. I do not have legs to walk, but I have my hands that do more jobs for me. I know a lot of people feel sorry about my physical condition, but I honestly do not care. I understand that other people’s perception of my ability is not something I can change. However, it is a thing I can use to encourage and motivate myself to become able as much as possible.
I am not going to lie. Living with a disability is not easy. However, it is always up to me to make a choice. I can either go the way where I think about the situation as unfortunate and cloudy. I can choose to be a victim for that matter. Or, I can desire to be confident and feel like I can conquer anything that others are telling me that I cannot do. I can be out there with the world winning for my sake. The truth is, it is all about the right mindset. The things I want to be and how I want the world to see me depends on my right mindfulness. Instead of complaining about why I turned out to be a disabled person, I might as well save my energy and do something worth living. I have my brain functioning properly, so I guess that makes it less complicated so far.
My Disability Won’t Stop Me
It did not catch me long to recognize that I have more important things to thank for instead of listing my complaints. Yes, the idea of not being able to walk somehow takes a toll on me. I refused to do things that only my feet can perform because I thought I couldn’t live with that situation. But hell, I was wrong. Traveling across the country, it is not a problem with my wheelchair. Hanging out with my friends, they get to visit me every week. And having a relationship, I am loved by my husband and children. So definitely, there is nothing that my disability can do to stop me from living the life I wanted.
Not A Weakness
My disability is not a weakness as what others see it. It is something that allows me to value the things I am more capable of doing. My disability may cause me anxiety and depression most of the time, but that is not enough to hold me back from trying and learning new things. I know and fully understand that I do need a couple of physical assistance. But it will never make me look at my leg-less condition as a weak point. I am better and will get better even without my legs.
For those individuals who have mental illness due to their physical condition, stop worrying. Try to be as positive as you can. You will be amazed by how the mind can turn things way better than the usual.
Thousands of people live with at least one disability all over the world. Most people even have concealed disabilities, such as mental illness, and still, find the will and the strength to live their lives to the fullest. We all know the negative stigma towards disabled people, but a lot has changed since then. Psychologists have shown in their recent studies there are better chances for disabled people in the world we live in today.
Understanding your disability and treating it as strength, could be the key to opening doors to lots of opportunities, and the path to your success. To be able to live the life you want, you must stop using your disabilities an excuse to avoid doing things you want to do. You must value yourself and look at your disability as something that makes you unique, something that makes you a hard worker, something that pushes you to do twice as much as everyone else.
According to an expert at BetterHelp, it is imperative to practice self-value by realizing your disabilities do not define who you are or what your life has to be like. Develop high self-esteem, avoid blaming yourself, and know you are not responsible for your disabilities, and having them does not mean it ultimately hinders you from a good life. You must understand that the only thing standing in the way of your happiness is yourself; that your success does not rely on the disability itself. Seeing it as strength is merely a plus.
So how exactly do we acknowledge mental health and physical ability as strength? How do we use that to our advantage?
Explore Your Strengths
Know what you are good at, what you like doing, and how your disability positively affects these things. Focus on the attributes you have that make you stand out, things you do uniquely. Encourage yourself to see your disability through a lens of uniqueness, opportunity, and goodness. Working with what you are good at is essential so you know what you can apply yourself to.
Do Not Limit Yourself Because Of Your Disabilities
It is common for disabled people to shy away from activities because they believe they cannot do these things. Limiting yourself is not going to get you anywhere. You must remember that you can have the same life, opportunities, and experiences as everyone else in this world. It is up to you to make an action and take control.
“Acknowledge that these are beliefs, not truths! This is often the hardest step. ‘But, but, my limitations are real!’ Here’s the place where choice comes in. Which are you more interested in: defending your limitations to the death or achieving your goals and desires?” writes Matt James Ph.D.
Remember That Just Like Everyone Else, Your Life Has Meaning
Whether you married the wrong person, experiencing heartbreak, struggling with a disablity, and more, know that everything happens for a reason. We all live with a purpose, with various abilities to contribute to the world. Do not let society convince you that you do not deserve a happy, fulfilled, and functional life. You were born into this world to live with luster, to explore and use every bit of talent in your body. Do not let anyone convince you otherwise.
“What all these people have in common is that through undergoing intense suffering, they “woke up.” They stopped taking life, the world, and other people for granted,” writes Steve Taylor Ph.D.
Always Ask For What You Need
As people with disabilities, it is essential to acknowledge what you will need to be able to work the way you want to. Ask for things that will help you live the way you want, be vocal about the changes you need in your environment to progress your lifestyle as soon as possible. Never keep to yourself when you know you need something. If you need a particular space for you to work or think, if you want to learn a specific topic or skill that you feel you can excel in, you name it. Remember to be vocal, because staying silent will not help you get anywhere. It is vital that you remind yourself that you should tell people they need to be there.
Envision yourself in the life you want, and do not stop working until you reach your goals. Everyone lives with a disability; it is just how we choose to live that makes us different. Separating yourself from the negative stereotype and acknowledging your disability as strength is just the beginning of a successful journey. Encourage the world to see disabled people through a multi-faceted lens. Show the world you are not your disability. It is your obligation to represent yourself and that it is merely one part of who you are.
Everyday people from the disabled community break social, cultural, and technological barriers all over the world. There are artists, athletes, humanitarians who continue to show the world that their disabilities do not hinder them from creating and contributing beautiful things to the world. Learning that your disability is strength is one part of your journey, the way you use it in this world is what matters the most. Remind yourself that you have no limits and that you deserve to experience life the way every single person on this earth does.
No matter which therapist you ask about the typical types of clients that come to their office for a consultation, you will tend to hear most – if not all – of them say that a good number of them are people with disabilities. Some may have a neurological condition such as ADHD, ADD, autism, etc. Others may be dealing with a physical disability due to an accident, illness, and various causes. These individuals feel the need to turn to a therapist often because they have such a difficult time coping with their situation on their own.
The truth is that the disabled folks who ask for help from mental health professionals are genuinely commendable. It is easy to let the darkness swallow so that you can’t feel pain anymore. It is easy to allow the sneers and the awful names that narrow-minded people throw at you to bring you to a point in which you are already hanging by a thread. However, such individuals with disabilities believe – or want to believe – that life does not and should not end because you are not like everyone else. That makes them some of the most reliable folks in this planet, frankly speaking.
“Building assertiveness also means to not shy away from confrontation. Confrontation is arousing, and those who’d rather avoid confrontation would not only feel more arousal than those who do not, but also would be more likely to interpret this arousal as fear,” writes Joachim I Krueger Ph.D.
Importance Of Standing Up For Yourself
One of the things that a therapist can teach to their clients, especially to the people who feel like they are the underdogs in this perfectly imperfect world, is being able to stand up for themselves. After all, this task is not as effortless as getting on your two feet and making sure that you do not fall right after. Even a leg amputee or someone numb from the waist down should be able to do it without anyone’s help. The only tools you need here are your determination to live happily and the courage to do what’s right for yourself and everyone you love.
You have to learn how to stand up for yourself because:
1. You Cannot Let Others To Fight Your Battles
Considering we are aiming to be transparent here, it is not rude to say at all that it matters to know how to fight your battles on your own. Not many people think that they have the strength to do since they are already dealing with a disability. Some even get upset if they go through a hardship all of a sudden, and no one has come to their aid at once.
Although you may be the only disabled person in your family or circle of friends, you should remember that everyone around you tends to experience ups and downs as well. They cannot come to the rescue 24/7; you cannot expect them to drop everything immediately because some lawless stranger made fun of you. No, you need to figure out how to face your adversaries head on even if you are alone.
2. You Want To Show To The Rest Of The World That Your Disability Does Not Make You Weak
“Living with a disability can be a source of value, meaning and pride, rather than a flaw or weakness,” says Elizabeth Mazur, Ph.D.
As awful as it may sound, having a disability tends to make folks assume that you are weak. When your legs get paralyzed due to an illness, after all, you will not be able to get on your feet. You may have to depend on a wheelchair or walker even when you need to use the bathroom. If you are blind, some people may instantly think that you cannot live on your own or travel to different places all by yourself.
By learning how to stand up for yourself, though, it will not take much time to prove to everyone that you are far from being weak. Your legs may no longer be functional, but you can find activities that will benefit not only you but also other individuals. Your vision may be impaired, but you can rely on your other senses to live without outside help every day. Remember: it’s all in the mind.
3. You Can Earn Everyone’s Respect This Way
Showing your sense of independence despite being in a situation in which you have every right to ask for help forever is exceptionally remarkable. Imagine, even though you have a disability that is most likely permanent, it does not hinder you from living well. You don’t have to depend on your loved ones; you are even capable of making money instead of relying on the financial assistance that federal agencies and non-profit organizations may give to you willingly. You can do all that and more because you want to, and that is something you will undoubtedly gain a lot of respect for.
“Start by finding and talking to someone safe where you can be safe to be the vulnerable you. Give birth to your core self and try to recognize when you are telling yourself to be different in order to fit in,” writes Kimberly Key Ph.D.
Life is too short to let naysayers ruin it. At the same time, life is too precious to allow a disability to prevent you living; however you want to. Consider the benefits of standing up for yourself now!
Having a disability is something that makes people loses all their interest in life. More than half of the individuals who have a particular disability tend to become anxious, stressed, and depressed. With that state, it ruins their every life. It affects everything from work, school, friends, and even family relationship. There is an emotional and mental issue buildup from overthinking about people’s worth and capability.
Disability and depression correlate with each other. That’s because individuals with a disability are often afraid to communicate with others. They have this perception that because they think of themselves as incapable individuals, society doesn’t accept them. “The more distress there is in one’s life, the greater the impact on daily functioning and overall quality of life,” writes Mark Borigini M.D.
This scenario causes them to have depressive disorders. But what are these conditions? What do we have to know about it? How come it affects people with disability so much?
Types Of Depression
A lot of people already stereotyped depression as extreme sadness. They think of it as a habit of not being in the mood all the time. However, that perception is far from the truth. Depression has sub disorders with different symptoms, causes, and intensities. Here are the signs of each different types of depression.
Disruptive Mood Regulation Disorder
“Although there are many hedges and exceptions to making the diagnosis of DMDD in DSM-5, the essential criteria are: three temper tantrums per week at a minimum and a persistent irritable mood between tantrums,” writes Stuart L. Kaplan M.D.
Disruptive mood regulation disorder refers to the simultaneous outburst of temper either verbal or physical. Usually, it happens approximately three times a week. The experience of being moody and sad besides having anger issues three to four times a week is also a visible sign of DMRD. It is more likely identifiable when individuals suffer from this condition for more than a year or at least it started way before the age of ten. Usually, it makes people susceptible to creating uncalled decisions. Categorically, people with this state tend to be defiant, don’t consider lasting relationships with others, unable to follow the rules, impulsive, and aggressive.
Major Depressive Disorder
A major depressive disorder is most commonly known as clinical depression. It is a state where individuals experience episodes for a long term period. Though sometimes, others only experience an incident once in their life. The condition of individuals with MDD usually lasts for nearly two weeks. However, though it may seem to appear in a short term state, this particular disorder arises every day. There’s the numbness and the feeling of hopelessness, fatigue, decreased interest for the things these individuals used to like, changes in sleep patterns, increase or decrease appetite, lack of concentration, forgetfulness, having suicidal thoughts and attempt, as well as self-harm. MDD is also capable of mixing with other types of disorders such as anxiety, catatonia, melancholic and psychotic features, and even seasonal patterns.
“Clinical depression looks very similar to the presentation of animals who have “given up” when facing competitions or challenges. There is a withdrawal from the immediate environment, a decrease in motivation and looks of defeat,” writes Stuart L. Kaplan M.D.
Persistent Depressive Disorder
Persistent depressive disorder (also known as dysthymia) is an ongoing mental illness. Its signs and symptoms are not as explicit as major depressive disorder. However, symptoms happen almost every day. It goes along with the change in sleep patterns, appetite change that makes people lose or gain weight drastically, low energy, poor self-esteem, poor concentration, lack of motivation, isolation, and forgetfulness. Same as MDD, dysthymia can also go along with other types of mental illnesses and can range from different levels of severity. So depending on the disability, people suffering from this one may have a problem in considering treatment.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
In general, disability hits both men and women. However, premenstrual dysphoric disorder focuses only on the latter. It disables approximately three to eight percent of women without apparent reason. No one can explain why. Usually, the following symptoms occur during a female’s menstrual cycle. These symptoms include mood swings, feelings of hopelessness or being overwhelmed, increased sensitivity, sluggish or feeling tired all the time, anxiety, lack of interest in any activities, insomnia, and an excessive amount of sleep. Aside from these signs, physical symptoms are also visible in this condition. There’s joint pain, weight gain, bloating, tender breast, and swelling.
Substance or Medication-Induced Depressive Disorder
It is a condition present during the use of medication or substance abuse. It includes symptoms like irritability, a sense of hopelessness, short temper, depressive episodes, and no pleasure or interest in anything. Usually, these signs will occur when individuals are in withdrawal state of under the influence of a particular substance. Since most people use drugs to feel better, they usually don’t notice the effect of the depressive disorder. The condition also triggers bipolar disorder where drug abuse becomes an excuse for forming a different psychological pattern.
Depressive Disorder Due To Another Medical Condition
It is another type of depressive disorder that consolidates with other types of medical diagnosis. It could form due to having HIV, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, physical disability, and viral infection. Its symptoms include a series of depressive mood, irritability, lack of interest, and an expansive or elevated mood.
With that said, we need to acknowledge that these disorders are treatable. As long as there are proper diagnosis and consistent medical interventions, people suffering from these types of conditions can recover.