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On Disability

The Emotional Experience Of Being On Disability And How To Handle It

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Disability often brings up a range of emotions, including depression, fear, anxiety, uselessness and rage, as well as a loss of identity.. Experience has shown that while on disability, it is easy to get stuck in a negative emotion.

We cannot change the facts, but we can change how we relate to them.

Consider the following thoughts which have helped other people:

  • Ronald Monroe, an expert in helping people with life challenging conditions re-enter the workplace, observes that: "People that really enjoy the best level of mental health are those who, at some point after dealing with all the emotional pieces of going on disability, begin to become pro-active again. It becomes a question of personal focus, or mission or vision, if you will. It doesn't have to be work related. The range of choices is almost endless: from volunteering, to getting an education, to working on the self, working part-time at a job, or working on the spiritual side... anything that takes the mind away from the negative feelings of being on disability and creates some type of positive experience."
  • Each day can be an opportunity. This can be difficult to remember some days - even some weeks. But it is true. What to do with that opportunity is up to you. We suggest working at maximizing your feeling of fulfillment each day - even those days filled with pain and/or fatigue.
  • There is no right or wrong way to handle what you experience while on disability.
  • Consider treating being on disability as another stage of life to be explored.
  • Be gentle on yourself.
  • Share your emotions with friends and/or family. Consider joining a support group, or finding a buddy..
  • Make contact with someone else in a similar situation. He or she truly understands what you are going through. Your doctor, social worker or disease specific nonprofit can help make a connection.

If you find yourself stuck in depression or another negative emotion:

  • Tell your doctor. He or she may have drugs to help - or a change in drugs that aren't working.
  • Access a support group. If you can't get out of bed or the house, you can do it on the telephone or through the internet.
  • If necessary, speak with a mental health therapist.

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