Differently Abled

I have had many labels over the years – clinical depression, bipolar, fibromyalgia, OCD, disabled, physically and mentally challenged, osteorarthritis and the list goes on.  There was a time when I let these labels define me.  However, eventually I didn’t want to be thought of by an illness.  So, I came up with my own definition – “differently abled”.

To me this means I may not be able to do many normal tasks or activities, but I have adapted myself to do things differently or devised my own way of tackling the matter.

For instance, a couple of years ago I went to a chronic pain clinic for three months.  One of the first things they said to us was “We can not and will not take away your pain, because if that was possible, you wouldn’t be here.  Instead we will show you how to work with and through your pain to live as normal a life as possible.  One tool was “pacing”.  This essentially means taking chunks of time, figuring out what you can accomplish in that time and when the time is up either rest or go on to a different timed task that uses different skill sets than the previous one.

Cleaning is a really good example of pacing.  It can take me all day to clean the kitchen because I will do it in stages. Bending to empty the dishwasher can be hard on my back so if my hubby can’t do it before work, I will do the bottom, then do something I can do without bending, then do the top, clean another counter or put some things away, then start to load the dishwasher.  I take a break before doing any hand washing of pans or other tasks.  For bathrooms I do the toilets one day, counters another and each of the two tubs on separate days.

If I have an event I want to go to, I rest up the day before and day of, and try not to plan anything major for the next two days after.  This is because with my chronic pain I tire very easily.  I have not been able to go to church much in the last three years because it is early in the morning and after a restless night I am just too tired.  By the time I get ready, I need to go back to bed.  But I surround myself with Christian music, talk programs and devotions.  I have become a prayer warrior and I have several young women whom I have a mentoring relationship with.  Even if we can’t get together, we are in constant contact through phone and internet.

Another area where I have found compromise is asking for help.  This used to be a closed subject as far as I was concerned because I wanted to be super-independent.  I had many things controlling my life and I wanted to keep hold of what I can.  The amazing thing about asking for and accepting help is that you are actually doing the other person a favour instead of seeming weak!  People WANT to help, they WANT the opportunity to be part of your support team.  Once I realized this I didn’t feel so alone and I was actually empowered.  Imagine my surprise!

What about you?  Have you wanted to crawl out from under a label?  Is there an area of your life that could use some renovation?  I’d love to hear about it!

6 Replies to “Differently Abled”

  1. I do things in stages myself, I have bipolar and PTSD but also arthritis in my spine and joints which causes a great deal of pain sporadically. It’s when I can’t move without great pain that my depression can really take hold, so i always try to do SOMETHING, even if it’s write a blog or put a load of washing on, anything to keep my mind occupied. I would ask for help but I don’t have a great many people to help anymore so we generally work it out between my husband and I, and my two young girls are pretty messy but do their best 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Finding victory in the little things is really important for people like us who are challenged with pain, depression and/or other ailments. I applaud you for what you accomplish.

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      1. And I you! I can’t imagine how difficult just the simplest tasks must be for you at times, and there are so many people out there who are perfectly able to but don’t do anything because of laziness. My default setting is lazy so I really have to manually force myself to do things but you’re right, it’s the little victories that make the difference! That and my kids, they pull me through the hardest times 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful post! I have to admit I was embarrassed just reading this one. I don’t have the pain issues you do, but I don’t get nearly as much done. I let the lethargy of depression and ADD keep me from doing anything around my house for so long that now it takes a major effort to get anything done. I am finally getting things done, but compared to you, I am a snail and you are the cartoon roadrunner! I applaud all you do, knowing what you have overcome. You inspire me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is not easy and everyone’s situation is relative. I envy you teaching. I wish I could be productive like that. And you do your best to make it to church as often as possible. So please do not be embarrassed. I am proud of what you do accomplish!

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