I asked her what the depression rates were among her clients. It didn't surprise me that her clients who were able-bodied and got injured/sick were generally more depressed than clients who had been disabled for a long time.
A family friend of ours has been blind since birth. He's a paralymic athlete and has even won gold at past Olympics. He is adventurous, independent, and passionate about helping others. His love for God and life is contagious, and he's a pleasure to be around. He said growing up his mother never expected him to contribute any less than his other siblings, so he found ways to adapt.
Our friend accepts his limitations and focuses on all the amazing things he can do.
I think grief is a huge part of the chronic illness experience. I've defined "Lisa" as an active, studious, over-achiever person all my life. If I keep defining "Lisa" in that way, I feel depressed. For many months after becoming too sick to work/study, I was miserably angry and depressed. I didn't want to accept that my idea of "Lisa" was changing.
It was once I began to accept that in this season, "Lisa" is tired, limited, and has cognitive difficulties, that my mood began to change. Once my baseline became lowered, my attitude switched to: Okay, what CAN I do with this "Lisa"?
It took time to make that switch and it isn't permanent, I often switch back to wanting to do old "Lisa" things.
If you have a loved one who has recently become unable to work or go to school, it's helpful to understand that they need time to grieve. The person they've been all their life is suddenly being snatched away from them. Give them the space they need and be a shoulder for them to cry on. Ask them how you can support them during this time. What do they need from you? Encourage them to seek out a counselor. Suggest that they keep a journal or write in a blog. Help them find support groups so they can speak to others dealing with the same disability. Invite them to do activities that they can do.
- Can you go for a walk, pushing them in a wheelchair?
- Can you go to a park and have a picnic where they can nap on a picnic blanket?
- Can you sit on the balcony and knit or learn a craft?
- Can you paint their nails or do their hair? (Looking nice can often boost your mood)
If they say they're not up for something, don't push them too hard or make them feel guilty for saying no. Also understand that they'll likely always have moments of frustration and depression where they grieve the person they used to be. Hopefully these moments will become shorter and less frequent though as time goes on.
It's true that dogs take after their owners.