One of the struggles I’ve highlighted on my blog is the anxiety that developed once my body started going through physical changes with arthritis. Going out to the house especially into social settings caused me great grief because I never knew what the walking was going to be like (distance, time etc.), what the venue space would be like, seating etc.
These weren’t things I ever had to consider before I left the house in the past; now I do. Now that I’m getting back into the swing of things I do my best to try and relieve my anxieties as much as possible by preparing well in advance.
Call In Advance
Whether you call or email the establishment or venue, or contact the coordinator; don’t be afraid to ask for information. I usually ask what the layout is like, is it a significant amount of walking from the parking lot to the building, are there stairs, is their elevator access, is there a ramp available in case I have to use a mobility aid other than my cane. I try to get as much detail as possible so I know what I’m up against.
Half the battle is with my anxiety is not being able to be in control of my circumstances, have the knowledge of my environment before hand helps to ease some of the uneasiness for me.
Choose the Proper Mobility Aid
On the average day I can get around with a cane and adequate seating throughout the day. However, depending on the type of function I’m attending, the type of mobility aid might change. In certain situations, there is more extensive walking. So on those days, I might need a wheelchair or power mobility scooter.
There are services that offer you the option of rental if your insurance or your finances do not cover you for the cost of owning one personally. A company I’ve personally used is Scootaround. It’s very convenient and was affordable for my personal circumstances.
There’s no denying that there is a stigma when you are a large body with a disability; but if I can encourage anyone today to ignore all of that to regain your independence; DO IT!
Be Honest About Your Limitations and Act Accordingly
I cannot tell you how many times throughout this journey I refused to be modest about what my body was capable of. This resulted in a lot of painful days and tearful nights. If there is one regret I truly have is not thinking I was worthy of assistance much earlier on.
I kept trying to hold myself to the standard of an old me and what my old body was capable of doing. When I couldn’t meet the unrealistic expectations I placed upon myself it left me fraught and depressed. Don’t get me wrong, there are still days I struggle with new limitations; but I do my best to refocus on living the best life I can even in circumstances that I can’t control.
Bring a Support System
If there is someone you trust and love that brings you peace of mind and understands your need; have them come along! I’m not ashamed to say that my husband has truly become my partner in this sense because no one understands in depth how deep my physical pain and limitations go.
Social functions can bring enough anxiety as it is especially if your a person who already deals with anxiety. When you add on the stress of having to navigate in your body differently, it can really kick up the anxiety a notch or two! Having a support system is SO valuable. If you don’t need one that is absolutely fine! But should you be a person who does need that, go for it!
I understand that there are millions of people in this world who have been contending with a disability far longer than I have. I tip my hat to them because I feel like I’m learning from them! However, if you’re in a situation where dealing with a disability is foreign territory for you, I want you to understand that I understand you.
I see you.
A big portion of this journey left me feeling isolated. I recognize that while some of it was in my head, some of it was not. Often times in many situations mobility or lack there of is not considered. People with disabilities are often a second thought. Mobility is an expectation for many people; I was one of those people! It wasn’t until I was met with my own disability that I truly understood ablelism and how I had to change my mindset.
If you’re reading this and you’re a person with a disability, visible or not; I hope this was helpful. If you can think to add any of your own tips please feel free to leave a comment. If you’re not a person with a disability, do me a favor and keep us in mind! Share this with someone who may need it.
Until Next Time,