The Isolation Experienced By Those Living With A Disability
Living with a disability, or caring for someone with a disability is wrought with challenges. We must navigate the ins and outs of the medical system, many times we mourn for the lives we envisioned, and are coming to terms with the fact that life will always be a challenge. Those facts alone are daunting, it is in those times, we turn to friends and family for support. But what happens when friends and family fall away?
They stop calling
Often times people living with disabilities and their caregivers are left isolated and alone. Not only do we have to deal with the lack of support from our government and lack of accommodations, but then we deal with the lack of support from family and friends. The sad truth is that many people cannot deal with the harsh reality that these people and their families face daily. We are judged as being lazy, attention seeking, or as being “helicopter moms.” They will defend themselves by saying, “I don’t know what to say,” or “I don’t know how to support you.” Sometimes they will say nothing at all and just slowly slip away. They stop calling, stop visiting in the hospital, stop swinging by for a visit or cup of coffee/tea. The next thing you know, you’ve lost another friend, and if you’re anything like me you question Why,” or “What did I do wrong?” This can lead to depression and anxiety which are already common ailments among the disabled and their carers. Divorce rates are staggering among the disabled and chronically ill. Another reason so many feel isolated. A true friend and family member will stand with you through thick and thin. Some people are cut out for that, some are not, and that’s ok. Let those people go. It is freeing.
A common bond
I have found the most positive thing about dealing with chronic medical issues is finding new friends with the same or similar conditions. They may have the same situation and struggles as you, and understand how difficult life can be. These people are worth their weight in gold! Hold onto them. Sitting silently beside a friend who is hurting may be the best gift we can give. You can share resources and responsibilities with these people when there is a common bond. Many times you will find yourself fighting for the same cause, to change the world. Those are the types of friends everyone needs and deserves. People that will lift you up, cheer you on and hold you when you crumble. No judgment. There are some wonderful people out there that know the true definition of family and friend. To those people, I thank you. Keep it up, it means more than you realize.
If you know someone with a disability or a caregiver, please reach out to them. We are no different than you are. We crave human connection. To be heard and understood. We face enough obstacles in life, and deserve good friends and family to depend on. If your marriage is struggling, seek counseling. If you are suffering with depression please reach out for help. People care.
You are not alone.
A diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handle stress exceptionally well.
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