Disability is not uncommon. In fact, almost 1 in 5 people in the US has a disability of some sort. Disability is a broad spectrum, encompassing a large gamut of physical, psychological and neurological conditions too numerous and diverse to list here (that just wouldn’t be great use of a word count). There are many with disabilities who have known them all their lives. They have lived with them either since birth or since they were very young. As such they have been able to develop physical, psychological and emotional coping strategies that have helped them to navigate the perilous path of life with such grace that their able bodies peers may take it for granted.

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If you’ve been able bodied all your life, however, and have been disabled as a result of injury this is uniquely traumatic and debilitating. Injuries are painful and traumatic and can have long lasting repercussions on our physical and cognitive faculties. Whatever the nature or extent of your injuries and no matter the nature of your disability you can navigate your way to a happy, healthy, productive and successful life. It certainly may not feel that way right now, and the path before you may be strewn with various hurdles of which the able bodied are sadly ignorant. Nonetheless, you can navigate these hurdles with aplomb and emerge from them stronger…

Fighting the blues

Depression is an all too common consequence of disability. It is a persistent antagonists with whom many disabled people are all too familiar. It can strike at any time and even when it is conquered it can still return. Nonetheless, while we may not be able to permanently vanquish the spectre of depression, we can mitigate the risk factors. Depression is at its most profound when we feel lacking in purpose and direction so it’s vital that we keep ourselves productive, even on our worst days. Even if your injury makes you unable to work, you can still find productivity in other outlets. Dust the cobwebs off your painting skills. Write a blog or diary about your experiences, or use them as the basis for a play or movie script. Not only will this be a great creative outlet, it will help to inform, enlighten and educate people. Ignorance is a precursor to prejudice and disabled people face more than enough of that on a daily basis. Anything you can do to reduce the sum total of the world’s ignorance and prejudice is a colossal boon to the world at large.

Find ways to cheer yourself up when you get low. Never underestimate the difference a little sunshine, some human interaction and some of the simple pleasures in life like good food and nice smells can make. Although your every instinct may scream at you to stay at home and barricade yourself away from the outside world, you deserve to let others bring you back to your happy place.

Seeking justice

If you have been rendered disabled as a result of someone else’s negligence or malpractice, this is obviously a profound injustice which needs to be remedied. You will likely be too focused on your own recovery and convalescence than seeking justice and you will likely not want to relive the trauma that led to your injury and disability. Nonetheless, the longer you wait, the harder it may be to make a claim against the negligent party. The least you can do is contact an attorney to give you a free case review. Not only can a victory bring justice, it can give you the compensation to ensure that your recovery isn’t mired by money troubles.

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Returning to work

If you’re lucky enough to be able to return to your old job, even this can be a jarring transition that’s fraught with anxiety. You may worry that your skills have atrophied or that you’re no longer worthy of your old job. Moreover, your return will likely be precipitated by a return to work interview which may be difficult and traumatic for you. Try to remember that so long as you are physically able to do your job your employer cannot hold your disability against you and has a legal obligation to ensure that you have assistive technology to enable you to do the job every bit as well as you did before you were injured.

Of course, if you are unable or unwilling to return to your old job, this could be the perfect opportunity for a new beginning. As part of your recovery you may wish to reconnect with where your true passion lies and pursue a new career based on that. Even if you are unable to find the right jobs in a turbulent market, many disabled people have found rewarding and happy careers as freelancers.

Knowing your rights

Just because you have been rendered disabled does not mean that you should have to accept a reduction in your quality of life or be treated as a second class citizen. You still have every right to expect the same basic human rights you enjoyed before your injury. You have the right not to be treated differently in the workplace and you have every right to expect access to public spaces and the ability to move around them freely and without restriction. Knowing your rights can make living with a disability much more palatable.

The road to rehabilitation

Whenever something disrupts our state of normalcy, a period of adjustment is natural and inevitable. We need to be able to recover and convalesce on our own terms, but we also need a kick in the butt every once in a while when our sadness and lethargy impede our own rehabilitation. Whether it’s physical, social or cognitive, you owe it to yourself to get the help you need to rehabilitate and get your life back on track.

Nobody will tell you it’s easy and nobody can assure you that everything’s going to be okay, but if you’re determined, dedicated and willing to get help when you need it from those who are best placed to give it, the hurdles of your disability will be a distant memory and your life will get back on track.

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