In the beginning, certain aspects of recovery seem excruciatingly slow, while others are flung our way at warp speed. Learning how to function better physically whilst trying to re-understand your place in the world is an emotional rollercoaster. Overwhelming feelings of fear start to show up soon after stabilization. Fear of the unknown that lies ahead can spur you into action or paralyze you (pardon the pun). Despite families and friends outpouring of love and support, the imminent feeling of dread that manifests itself can make you a prisoner to your mind.
It’s only when you leave the hospital and try to recommence your “normal life’ that the enormity of the situation becomes apparent. It is surrounded with even more feelings of fear and anxiety. Myriad initiatives fail to lift people with disabilities out of isolation and segregation. This leaves you largely on your own to navigate feelings like belonging, self-respect, happiness and anything else needed to feel well-rounded and fulfilled as a human being. It took along time for me to accept my new life and sometimes I see my reflection in a shop window and still think “oh that’s me!’.
Things do get easier but you need to keep the right outlook. This won’t happen overnight but you will reach some equilibrium of normality somewhere between the way your body was before and how it is now and only then will you accept yourself for the wonderful person you truly are. A lot of people view acceptance as a form of weakness. They think that, if they accept what’s happened to them, they’ll be admitting defeat. But it’s the opposite. It’s only by acknowledging reality you can challenge the fear inside and then you can create a plan to move forward. Acceptance, as it turns out, is the first step to overcoming the fear that is holding you hostage to your mind. The human soul is strong unlike the blood and bones we are constructed from. Know that you can face anything life throws at you, that deep inside you have the courage and determination. We all do.
“The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”; Franklin D. Roosevelt, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933