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The Survival Guide to Dealing with a New Disability

by Tracy Stine 2 years ago in coping

Getting a diagnosis of a disability can be devastating news.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Getting a diagnosis of a disability can be devastating news. There usually are overwhelming emotions of shock, disbelief, anxiety, fear, and despair.

After battling through the many emotions, you may wonder “What now?” Here are 5 encouraging bits of guidance:

1) Give Yourself Time

Allow yourself time to come to terms with the disability. You’ll go through various emotional stages and they’ll likely repeat themselves as there may be “trigger” moments.

One day you may be accepting and fine with your disability, the next you’ll be angry and upset.

Other times it'll seem like you're progressing well with your new disability, then you'll feel like you've backslid some. You will have good days and bad days, you just need to remember that our lives naturally seesaws anyway.

This is perfectly normal, and the expression “Take it one day at a time” rings true here.

2) Be In The Now

Often with a new disability, you may start regretting things you hadn't done before the diagnosis or start being scared of the future.

Playing the “if only” game does nothing but stunt your progress. You need to learn to live in the present and be grateful for everything you do have now.

Celebrate the little things happening now. Positive thinking will actually help in your progress to improve life with the disability.

3) You Are Not Alone

You may feel like you’re all alone with this disability, as you may be the only one of your family and friends to have it.

But you’re not alone. There’s a world out there full of other people with the same diagnosis. Seek them out. Search for Agencies, Support Groups, Chat rooms for others with the same diagnosis and connect with them.

Finding others who are going through the same struggles can uplift you and make you feel less alone. They will also serve as a fantastic pool of resources for learning how others cope, and the tools they use—physically, psychologically and emotionally—for creating a better life for themselves. Plus, you will eventually find yourself helping others, which always feels good to do too.

4) Learn All You Can

You may not know anything about your new disability, or have misconceptions and stereotyped beliefs of that disability.

Many disabilities are on a spectrum and are so varied in its mildness or severity, so don't judge purely on its "label."

Find out everything about your disability, its cause and prognosis. Find an agency to teach you new living skills to improve your independence.

Learn about technology, medication, treatments and such to help you live your life to the fullest every day.

5) Be An Advocate

Learn to stand up for yourself and your needs. If you have worked your way through all the previous stages, you’ll learn what you need, physically and emotionally.

There’ll be people —family and friends too—that will be negative, overprotective, dismissive, or even patronizing. You’ll need to be strong for yourself and teach them how they should be treating you, in the most diplomatic way possible. If that doesn't work and they still continue to hinder your progress or independence, you should feel NO guilt about letting these toxic people go.

Being disabled should not be a prison term, but a new evolution of your life. Things may never be the same as before, but new adventures, new people and new strengths will emerge. Trust me, I know.

It will be alright.

coping

Tracy Stine

Freelance Writer. ASL Teacher. Disability Advocate. Deafblind. Snarky.

Read next: Turn Your Brightness Down, Your Projection's Showing!

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