Maintaining a Positive Mindset When Living With a Disability
This is a guest blog from Elin Williams at My Blurred World, who talks about the ways you can try to keep a positive perspective when you are living with a disability. You may have noticed Elin’s name, as she has contributed on Disabled Living’s blog before and also in our Kidz to Adultz Magazine, pages 40-41.
“How are you so positive?”
“You’re really positive, considering.”
“I admire your positivity.”
If there’s one thing that people often observe about me and my personality, it’s my positivity. I’m naturally quite the optimist and I try not to let my disability cloud that trait. But it hasn’t always been an easy journey and it continues to present challenges, those of which can be difficult to overcome at times.
I found myself suspended in a state of numbness and negativity when I was in my first year of sixth form; My eyesight was deteriorating rapidly due to my eye condition, Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) and I was trying to find my feet after being diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME. I wasn’t sure how to graduate from the darkness I found myself slipping into further every day and I was finding it difficult to voice my feelings.
I resolved to taking one day at a time and I eventually discovered that there was light at the end of the tunnel. There are certain things I do now to combat the negatives and keep my spirits up during the difficult times, and I would like to share a few of these with you today…
Focusing on What I Can Do
My fluctuating eyesight and physical capabilities have been a source for many conflicting thoughts over the years; it’s so easy to think about all the things that you can’t do because of your disability and to let those factors dictate how you feel, but I’m learning to be more honest with myself, and focusing on what I can do rather than what I can’t. This affords me the opportunity to be grateful for what I am capable of, something which helps me to maintain a positive mindset.
Connecting With Others in a Similar Situation
I was very reluctant to talk to any other vision impaired person when I was younger, I deemed the prospect as something that would make sight loss even more real. This was at a time when I was desperate to fit in, so I refused any opportunity to meet anyone else who was in a similar situation. I didn’t realise that I was isolating myself by incessantly refusing and I was oblivious to how much reassurance I needed at the time.
When I eventually created my blog, My Blurred World, in 2015 I started connecting with other vision impaired people and my eyes were opened to a world that I never knew existed before. I’ve found so much comfort when talking to others who are in a similar situation and there are a whole host of people, on and offline, who I can now turn to if I need to talk. I’ve been able to draw so much positivity from this in the last few years and being a part of the disability community is definitely something that continues to provide me with positivity and reassurance when I need it the most.
Focusing on the Small Things
It is so easy to lose focus on the positives when you feel consumed by the challenges your disability presents in your life. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve felt swamped by the negatives but something I’ve always tried to do is appreciate the small things.
I have grown to recognise the value in achieving even the smallest of things and I draw comfort from doing the things I love such as reading, writing, or listening to music. I’ve learned to appreciate the contributions all of the above make to my life no matter how significant they are in their existence.
I’ve discovered that there’s always something to be appreciated, even in the darkest moments and I try to utilise anything that brings me happiness.
Embracing What My Disability Brings to My Life
If you had asked my younger self to list positive attributes to my disability, I would have retracted back into my shell or redirect the route of the conversation completely. But now I can proudly sit here and list all the amazing ways my disability has contributed positively to my life. From enabling me to learn unique skills such as reading/writing braille, touch typing and using the long cane to forming friendships and allowing me to work with charities and giving me the opportunity to utilise my passion of helping others by sharing my experiences with others in a similar situation. I could go on.
There are so many aspects of my disability that I can now claim to be grateful for and that really does bring a strand of positivity into my life, especially since there was a time when I didn’t believe that anything good could stem from it.
Sometimes it’s not as simple as relying on all of the above to maintain this positivity and it’s at that point that I recognise the value in reaching out to others. There’s no weakness in asking for help and I’ve truly valued this realisation over the past couple of years. Very few people are dealing with everything you experience as a disabled person so there’s immense strength to take away from that fact but it’s ok not to be strong 24/7. Whilst I’ve been reluctant to ask for help in the past, I now gain confidence from the fact that I am more open about it all and that I have people in my life who I know will always offer their unwavering support.
As I graduated into my late teens and now my early twenties, I’ve been able to adopt a lot of perspective which affords me the opportunity to look at my disability in a different way. I can’t claim that it’s always easy, but these are just a few things that help me to renew my spirits and bring me closer to a positive mindset.
I am now able to substitute many of my negative thoughts with positive ones and I’m reaping the rewards as they come.
Learn more about Elin on her blog: My Blurred World.