Disability only becomes a problem when you see it that way. The most difficult part is to adjust to the new way of life. There are around 4 to 5 stages of adjustment to disability. Adjustment is going to be a long process.
Being newly disabled is nothing like the changes we deal with in our life, it is a life altering change. Imagine the psychological turmoil a person goes through when he first discovers that life is going to be completely different from now.
In this blog we will be talking about the stages a person goes through while he/she is trying to adjust to their new life. We will also discuss how someone with a disability can cope with the psychological effects of their condition. Basically what can be done to improve the lives of differently abled people.
Let’s get started with the stages first…
Psychological Stages of Adjustment To Disability
Adjusting to a disability is definitely not a piece of cake. You have to have a very good mental strength to deal with the emotional outburst. Disability brings psychological as well as physical barriers with itself. Let’s have a look at how the adjustment may take place…
It is quite obvious that the first stage has to be Shock. Disability always comes as a shock to the sufferer and well as their friends and family. You never expect something like this to happen to you or your people.
It basically leaves you lifeless and numb emotionally and physically. It may last for several hours to days.
Denial comes right after shock. The disbelief in reality pushes you towards denial. You just dismiss the thought that disability will now be part of your life. It is a defence mechanism, your brain is trying to gradually introduce you to being not able to do certain things.
It probably lasts about 3 weeks to a month. Being in denial for this long is completely fine. Problems arise when it starts to hinder your routine activities and you don’t transition from denial to the next stage of adjustment.
Also read: Is ADHD A Disability? | Relationship Between ADHD & Other Disabilities
3. Depression or anger
Most people at this stage of adjustment often have angry outbursts. They might develop depression because of the way people are now treating them. They just dislike everything that’s happening to them.
At this stage they often mistake help for sympathy and that increases their misery even more. In this stage they also begin to grieve their loss.
Also read: Emotionally Volatile: Symptoms of Volatile Anger To Control It
4. Acceptance and adjustment
This stage brings in a certain kind of self-acceptance. You finally start to adjust to your new way of functioning and your limitations. This doesn’t mean they completely fell in love with themselves and are jolly again.
This is just the beginning of adjustment. You have just agreed to accept yourself the way you are and are willing to make your life worthwhile.
It is very important for each and every disabled person to transition from one stage to another successfully. If that doesn’t happen you will develop extreme mental health conditions. These conditions combined with your disability is going to be a deadly roller coaster ride. But how can you do that? How can you make your life better?
How to Cope With the Psychological Effects of Disability?
A. Give yourself some time: You are going to have a great deal of stress because of the life changing event. You deserve some time off! Time to reflect on your condition and come in terms with it.
B. Let the negative emotions go away: emotions take time, they will stay with you foursome time. Your disability has filled you with lots of negative emotions and feelings. Try venting them out, talk to your friends and family, cry if you feel like but just let them flow out of your mind and body.
Remember to be patient!
C. Make yourself a priority: at this point in life you should be the most important to yourself. You need to nurture yourself, love yourself. Self Care is important at this point and self care is not at all being selfish.
D. Learn to be the best version of yourself: after you have come to terms with your disability, you owe it to yourself that you become the best version of yourself. Don’t let your disability define you. Focus on what you CAN do and not on what you CAN’T!
E. Don’t dwell on your past: bygones are bygone. You can’t change your past but what you can change is your future. So pull yourself out of that pothole and start working towards making your tomorrow happier than ever.
F. Say bye-bye to stress: it’s important that you manage your stress at this point. Stress will only worsen your condition. Learn and implement stress management practices in your daily routine.
Disability is not a disorder but if you don’t take care of yourself you can make your disability a disorder. There are two things that you have to focus on: 1) adjustment to disability & 2) coping with disability.
If these two are covered then half the battle is won. The stages of adjustment to disability will take a toll on your mental and physical health. It’s Only how you choose to cope with the psychological and social aspect of disability.
I hope this blog helps you understand the intensity of the psychological effect of disability, the stages of adjustment to disability and how you can cope with it. Do share this blog with as many people as possible because we all need to read this, irrespective of our ability or disability.
Thanks for reading
Take care and stay safe!
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