Keeping a stiff upper lipApr 30 02:57
One of the most challenging things about living with a disability is keeping strong, even on the worst of days. Whether you’re experiencing more pain than the average person, you move less than the average person or if you have to deal with more medical problems than the average person, keeping a stiff upper lip and soldiering forward is a trait all of us must possess. There are many lessons/challenges one experiences as a person with a disability, and keeping your cool when disability stress levels reach an all-time high, is one of the hardest.
At first look, all most people see is the obvious disability - the inability to walk, the missing limb, the walker, the fact that their legs don’t work. What people don’t realize is that the not walking thing is just one symptom of a larger issue. Let’s take a spinal cord injury for example. While the legs not listening to the brain is a huge deal, there are a lot of secondary issues that come with it. You’ve got bladder problems ranging from chronic UTI’s to bladder stones, you’ve got skin issues like bed sores from sitting all day. I could go on and on, but it’s rainy and dreary out as I’m writing this, and listing these things can be depressing.
Whether you were born with your disability or acquire it later in life, I’m pretty sure all of us go through that ah-ha moment when we realize we need to make a conscious effort to be tough no matter what comes our way, because if we don’t, we can be easily consumed by awfulness and moodiness, just like Mr. Potter from It’s a Wonderful Life. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to end up a negative stereotype of a person with a disability, hating life and being mean to everybody because of my ever-present condition. I want to be a happy old lady in a wheelchair.
I’ve heard so many stories about kids with disabilities who are the toughest little guys you’ll ever meet. They never complain about their condition, they never whine about the multiple doctor’s appointments they’re forced to go to, they just deal with it like the rockstars they are, and I find these children mightily inspiring. Sure, since they never knew a life without disability this gives them an edge in coping so well, but they’re not blind. They see what they’re missing out on, what others kids can do and they can’t, and yet still….they persevere and love life.
Keeping a stiff upper lip may be invented by the Brits, but people with disabilities have made it an art form.
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1. ellie | May 03 04:12
This is a wonderful article, And a very good reminder to all of us with disabilities. We have to be tough and learn to see the wonderful things in life. I know I don't like feeling depressed and unhappy. So when I feel that MS bad day coming on I make the extra effort to not let it get to me. A few ROFL jokes or made up scenarios can always take the edge off.
2. jusme | May 04 11:27
Sure do agree with you. Having had polio as a kid, now reaching middle age I'm facing the effects of Post Polio syndrome, with fatigue and some pain. Like you've said keeping a stiff upper lip is just so important. Nobody out there is really interested in listening to a whiner and the more we whine, the more miserable we end up feeling. So the only way to do ourselves a favour is to look at the brighter side of our situations; like concentrating on what we CAN do.. and let life take care of the rest.
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Tiffiny Carlson is freelance writer and writes the “SCI Life” column for New Mobility. She's also a C6 quad from a diving accident that occurred when she was 14 years old. A lifelong resident of Minneapolis, Tiffiny has been a writer in the disability community for over 10 years and writes for several publications and blogs, as well as her personal blog BeautyAbility. Her work has also appeared in mainstream publications such as Nerve.com and Playgirl.