(Image credit to dodamanisachin at Deviantart.)
According to the United States Census Bureau, nearly 19% of the population in 2010 had a disability. That’s about a fifth of the population. That many Americans have a disability, but it’s not talked about that often. Representation in the media is abysmal, with the majority of disabled roles being played by able-bodied actors.
Being disabled can make you feel lonely or depressed. But it’s not all bad. Being disabled puts a different spin on life, for sure, but that can be positive.
Disabilities teach the person in question so much about themselves, and about the world. Becoming disabled teaches us to be strong. Even if we are losing our physical strength, our mental strength is growing, because when you become disabled, you have to learn how to deal with the new disappointments and let downs of the world.
I am disabled. I am hard of hearing, plus I have fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis in my knees, among other problems. I have learned so much about the world because of these things.
Some of the things that I have learned because of my disabilities are negative. For example, I have learned that lots of people will be annoyed if you make them repeat themselves, even if you explain that you are hard of hearing. I’ve learned to roll with it when I ask someone to repeat themselves one too many times and they get frustrated with me.
But I’ve also learned firsthand how many people have good intentions and truly want to help when there is a disabled person around. It seems like any time I explain that lifting anything too heavy will give me extreme chest pain, there are five people who pop up and say that it’s no problem and they can do it for me.
Another positive of being disabled is the community that comes with it. There is a support group for everything online. The number of people who use the “spoon theory” is astounding. (Note: If you have never heard of spoon theory, go to butyoudon’tlooksick.com to learn about it! It is a metaphor for disability, and it is so clever!)
Online, so many people who have some disability or another have teamed up to form a community. It is hard to feel alone for long when it seems like no matter what your illness or disability is, there’s someone else feeling the same thing you are. I spent so long thinking that no one knew about my rare disorder (costochondritis, or inflammation of the cartilage in my rib cage) but a quick search on tumblr or google turns up plenty of people complaining about the heart-attack-like pain that costochondritis brings.
Keeping a positive outlook in life won’t solve all your problems, but the fact is that disabilities don’t have to be all bad. Reach out and find your community, and in that, I’m sure you will find a way to keep your chin up!
Written by Megan Flint.