7 Strategies how to cope with illness or disability
1. Allow yourself time to come to terms with your illness
2. You are not alone – make most of all help and support groups
3. Nurture yourself
4. Learn how you can best help yourself feel better
5. Concentrate on the present, do not dwell in the past or worry about the future
6. Try to eliminate stress from your life 7. You are the maker of your own luck
Illness and disability might come in many forms. Some illnesses and disabilities have to be faced from birth; others are developed during people’s lifetime. They can come on suddenly or gradually develop over many years without the person knowing about it. People are usually genetically predisposed but illnesses can also be the result of the polluted environment or the lifestyle we adopt. Coming to terms with any illness is not easy and might take a long time especially when your illness surprises you suddenly.
Imagine that you are happy, your life is going very well and you are very proud of all your achievements. You have got a great family and circle of friends until one day something very unfortunate happens to you. You become ill or have an accident and you can no longer enjoy life as you used to. Suddenly everything seems to be falling apart. All kinds of scenarios may come up; you might no longer be in a position to support your family financially, you could lose your job, simply your dreams are falling apart. This is the hardest time and naturally you will be down about it, yet with a few changes you might still be able to live your life to the full. The following easy steps should help you in the right direction.
7. You are the maker of your own luck
Right at this moment you might be thinking that it is not in your power to improve your life in any way. Let me tell you that even if you think you have very little energy left there is still so much strength which you are not aware of and that I would like to help you discover.
The main clue to success is to start slowly, giving yourself small manageable goals each day that will build on each other. Many people make the mistake that when they have a brilliant idea they think big and want to see success overnight. I would never manage to write these strategies in just one day, I get tired quickly and have to rest but at the end I shall complete it if I write a little every day.
My son thinks he will be able to swim easily to the other side of the river. When he is in the middle, however he has to return because he is out of breath. He will manage it one day, but must pursue his goal and practise swimming each day a bit further. One day his stamina will improve to make it all the way. But in the meantime he no longer enjoys this sport. He would not enter in the river even in the biggest heat and goes swimming only when he has swimming lessons at school. So if you want to reach your dreams I would advise you not to follow in my sons’ footsteps. He also wants to write series for television. But he does not realise that before aiming so high he has to succeed first in small and then work hard for the big success. He would be much better off if he considered entering competitions of creative writing for his age group first. And he really did just that and visited our main library, because he won one literary competition and as a reward met an author who explained to him how to write in an interesting way.
It is therefore important to take one step at a time. If it is an effort for you just to get out of bed in the morning and make breakfast perhaps this could be your first challenge for the rest of the week to get up by a certain time. Gradually and slowly add a few extra challenges as you go along. At the end of each day or week make a review of what you managed to achieve that you could not do previously. You could perhaps keep a diary and set yourself some targets for the day and review them later. I find keeping a diary very useful with my son. Like the majority of children of his age he finds it difficult to plan his homework leaving it often till the end when there is not enough time left. The diary helps him to monitor what he has done and what he still has to do but it gives him also this essential skill of planning and organising his day so he does not spend the whole day on the computer.
Keep on reviewing your tasks and challenges and make sure that you do not set yourself too tough challenges which you then feel disappointed about because you have not achieved them. Instead, slightly adapt your challenges and make them easier, or if your tasks were too easy, set yourself more demanding goals. Do not be a perfectionist; it does not matter if the house is not absolutely hundred percent clean. I have got a friend who is always so worried about things going wrong when she invites her friends for dinner that at the end she is stressed and exhausted. Friends are there to cheer you up, not to make you feel even more awful, they will most certainly not mind if everything is not exactly perfect. Do not therefore worry about things going wrong.
If you want to work I believe you can find a job that suits you, will be enjoyable and will give you satisfaction. Ill or disabled people often feel depressed because they feel they cannot contribute to society as much as others. Naturally, this is not true because others can learn a lot from them, especially in the spiritual sphere. Recently the invalid son of the leader of the British Conservative party died. His colleagues commented how David Cameron used to be very arrogant, but after the birth of his eldest son Ivan he suddenly became more patient and tolerant. Companies are often discouraged from employing the disabled because they fear that such people will be regularly absent and not be so efficient like others, suffering loss as a result even though by law employers must not discriminate against employees with disability. There is help at hand for you as there are organisations that will help you find a job that is suitable for you with training for the appropriate position. Explore all that is available of which you can take advantage.
As mentioned previously it is important to think small. You might feel others have got an easy life and can prosper well without having to fight an illness or disability every day. First let me assure you that even the people who appear to have no problems can be flooded with them. I know you feel like you are a victim, but it is important to think of yourself as a winner. Do not compare yourself to others. We are all unique individuals with different experiences, values or beliefs. If your neighbours were disadvantaged like you would they have achieved as much as you?
You might still feel uneasy about the whole situation saying you are too ill to do any work. That is exactly how I felt not so long ago. The nature of my illness is such that I would not be able to turn up for any regular work. I have so much skill and ability yet I cannot use it even though I very much want to do something. I started to think whether I could work for myself on a self-employed basis. This would mean I could work when I feel a bit better and when I feel unwell I can just take it easy and relax. I speak and write 6 languages fluently so I could possibly do translations. My friends were discouraging me because they believed it not to be a financially rewarding job. I was determined, however to work hard for it. Most agencies would only accept translators with 3 or 4 years experience, but that did not discourage me. In the meantime I was translating into English adventure stories my uncle Otakar Batlička wrote which were published several times in the Czech Republic and which describe his journeys in South and Central America. I believed this should give me some experience so that I could perhaps start working as a translator. In the meantime, I have discovered something I enjoy doing more than translations. In the last few years I have started to design games which should help children learn maths and modern foreign languages. We have sold these games to schools which my sons have been visiting. I believe that especially the games to support learning of foreign languages could turn out to be successful because from next September at least one modern foreign language will become compulsory for the first time in primary schools.
Do not look for any reasons which would be stopping you from pursuing your realistic goal. People manage to find all kinds of excuses for things they have not done and should have done. As I am writing these strategies my life is certainly not straightforward. Yet I believe that tomorrow would be a better day and I would be able to help great people like you achieve your dreams and be happy.
It is important to go only at a pace you are comfortable with. While you are patient and waiting for your dreams to materialise you are obviously doing all the right things that will help you to achieve your goal one day in the future.
I always used to admire the strength of people who were involved in accidents causing them serious injuries who made an incredible comeback. I wished nothing of that nature would happen to me as I felt I would not be able to cope with it. Yet, without this incredible strength such people would have no life at all. People who are blind develop all their other senses much better than we do, otherwise they would have to live in total darkness and isolation. I just wanted to show you that this incredible strength is in all of you and you have the capacity to use it to improve your life and the life of those around you. And do not forget - it is those around you who also help you enormously to pull through your difficult moments. One lady who became ill said there was no point for her to live on because she could not do what she was hoping to achieve. She just started to work in a nursery and only recently completed her course. But her family assured her that there is life for her if she remains positive and that they are there to help her pull through it. Even though she can no longer work and has to rely on her family to help her, she is happy because they are supporting her, she keeps herself positive and focused and is very proud of her children who learned to help her as much as possible.
If you think there is no such strength within you to improve your situation I am going to prove you wrong. On one sheet of paper write down all the negative aspects of your life, on another sheet reflect on the positive ones. Weigh them all up. You probably wrote more negative stuff quickly while the positive features only came up very slowly. Never mind, this is all about appreciating the entire plus side of your life. The negative parts are hard, but throw that sheet in the bin. As you do so, imagine all these problems are locked up in the bin and when you take the rubbish down to be collected visualise them as going with all the other rubbish into the landfill site. Every time the unpleasant parts re-appear in your life try to do this visualization exercise again.
Let us instead concentrate on the positive. If you only managed to write down very little let me help you to think of some more. When you are not feeling too good, it is difficult to see all the positive side of your life. But do you have a supportive family, a circle of friends, can you read, write, have access to the Internet, can you walk or have enough strength to push yourself in a wheelchair? If you have only some of these you will be able to pursue your interests – perhaps studying something you enjoy, you can join like-minded people on the Internet or you can write about your problems and share your experience with others. To write about what bothers you can help and you never know your articles might be great and appear on websites for which you will earn some money. Nowadays there are so many opportunities thanks to the Internet, especially for people who are ill and disabled who cannot go to work on a daily basis. I always felt people with disabilities were so much closer to God and artistically gifted – they have the time to notice little things that busy people cannot. I am sure you have heard of artists who paint with their legs or their mouth and their paintings are truly marvellous. If they had not their disability they would probably get on with their everyday lives and would never have discovered this special gift in them. There is a special gift in everybody and even you can discover it and make good use of it.
If you cannot continue in your current job or cannot achieve your career ambitions help others who will certainly appreciate your input or expertise. Or assist those who are facing similar problems like you. If you have children help them to achieve their potential. They will appreciate it greatly (if not in their early years I am sure when they are older) and it will be a consolation to you that they will do well and may not only fulfil but also eclipse your hopes and dreams. Let them however decide for themselves what they would like to do.
If you stick to your realistic goal you will achieve it one day. Also do not always listen to prospects for the development of your illness. As mentioned earlier the same illness can behave differently in various individuals. If you were forecasted that it would probably be 3 years by which time you would be in a wheelchair do not fix it in your mind. Rather try to be positive and keep walking as much and as regularly as you can. The longer you keep it up, the longer you can do it. I have heard of people who were told that their illness was not curable; however, they even adopted a different approach to treatment than suggested by their doctor and have cured their illness even though they were predicted only a few years of life.
· • You can achieve your goals
· • Think small; accept that you will have some bad days. Find ways how to overcome these and say tomorrow will be a better day
· • Break bigger tasks into smaller chunks
· • Stick up with your goal – do not give up