Disability by primusboy

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									Disability, Chronic Illness, and Spirituality
When I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in the mid 1980's as a
"diagnosis of exclusion" (see, my illness had been mis-diagnosed for
about 25 years prior to this initial "diagnosis") I became VERY angry
with God. "Why me", I asked. Why did I have to be the one you inflicted
with this terrible disease? Why couldn't you let the Doctors conclusively
diagnose the condition? Why did I have to keep pretending that the
Doctors were mistaken, just so that I could live my day-to-day life?
I was asking the wrong question, you see. Instead of asking "Why me,
God?", I should have been asking, "Why NOT me, God?" See, I was trying to
become the "before the diagnosis" me, and I just could not do it. So, I
went into denial, and pretended that nothing was wrong. And, as anyone
who is disabled, or who is living with a chronic condition can tell you,
living with a disability is hard enough without trying to become a pale
image of who one might have been without the disability, i.e., trying to
fit into a world designed by and for able-bodied individuals, most of
whom are equally dispirited. It took me quite a while (about 10 years,
actually) to come to the conclusion that I needed to stop being in
denial; I needed to accept the condition, learn how to manage symptoms,
and get on with a quality life. Indeed, I needed to ask, "Why not me
God!" For living in denial meant that the ILLNESS DEFINED ME; I was very
unhappy; I was seperated from my spirituality; I was alone; and, I
contributed to disruptive events in my life.
It may sound corney, but I used my illness/disability experience as an
opportunity to get in touch with the needs of my "true self". That is, I
decided to use this opportunity to take back control over my life; to
recommit to my spirituality; to discover and live a quality life; and, to
keep replenishing my "well" of personal happiness and satisfaction by
reaching out to others in similar situations. I mean, who better to
discuss about living with a chronic illness than someone who does so on a
daily basis, and not just some Researcher? Who better to create a
Workbook (found at www.disabilitykey.com) to assist others obtain
disability insurances to which they are entitled than someone who used
the process herself, and not just a theoretical social services person?
Who better to create a website and an online blog where we of similar
condition can chat with, and learn about extending our quality of life
than someone practicing each and every day?
Does my spirituality help me in these endeavors? You bet it does!
Spirituality is a quality that goes beyond involvement in a religious
organization. It is a more basic construct. The highest level of our
development is affected by our ability to appreciate the sacred in life;
to live each day with purpose, and to find a sense of meaning and purpose
for our lives. Spirituality invites each of us with disabilities and/or
dealing with a chronic condition to live fully and in the present - in
REALITY, the here and now. Not in denial, but in control of our lives,
learning about, managing, and living each day in quality!
Research suggests that people, and in particular persons with disability,
depend on spirituality and religion as an important, if not primary,
method of coping with physical health problems and life stress. Most
research, however, has addressed one's involvement in religion rather
than spirituality.
Although research about spirituality in the context of disability is
sparse, many thoughtful writers have considered religion and spirituality
to be crucial factors in adjustment to disability. BUT, we must be
careful not to "blame" God, as I did, or to say that my disability is
"God's Will, or punishment for something that I did". Saying these things
isn't taking responsibility for our lives and figuring out how to live a
better life by managing symptoms. Instead, become reconnected with
whatever spiritual process/religion that you find speaks to you, and live
in the present with all of the gifts that you still have. Being
affiliated with a specific religion can sometimes help those of us with
disabilities find comfort in times of isolation and despair.
While little research has been conducted on the influence of organized
religion in the context of disability, studies on the general population
have been positive. For example, a 28-year follow-up of thousands of
people aged 18-65 years found that the individuals who attended at least
weekly religious services had lower rates of depression, smoking, and
alcohol use; they also tended to have greater social support. Frequent
attendees were more likely to have engaged in other healthy behaviors,
including physical exercise. The effect on survival was good after other
factors were taken into consideration - their risk of death was reduced
by 34%.
When disability is integrated as another dimension of living, spiritual
growth can take place. Please reread this red phrase again. It talks
about integrating a disability or a chronic condition "as anothe
dimension of living"! It means, taking back control of your life;
actually "living" again, and managing symptoms as part of every day life!
AND, believe me, this is not easy! If you have the opportunity to acquire
the Disabilitykey Workbook, you will see that I use my actual condition
as an example for others to follow. Whenever I have to focus on my
"Multiple Sclerosis Symptom Impairment Matrix", I get depressed all over
again. My brother felt bad about asking me about his "condition" because
he felt that it was NOTHING compared to what I cope with (more about his
question in further blogs). BUT, I only concentrate on the symptom
process when I need to. Otherwise, I concentrate on symptom management,
and on daily living as quality a life as I can.
Integrating experiences of disability allows a person with a disability
to recognize that suffering and hurtful experiences are universal
conditions. It can be a time for you to discover untapped resources; it
can be a time where you decide that you DO HAVE TIME TO play with your
grandchildren, or read that book you have been putting off, or research
your grandparents as they came to America long ago.
Spirituality is a way for people with disabilities to fulfill their
potential and discover the possibilities while learning to live with and
integrate their disability-related limitations and yet expand their
boundaries to experience the fullness of life.
As part of my Internet research for this blog, I found the following
website entitled "Faithability Religion, Spirituality and Disability
Resources". You can subscribe to the site, for free, and receive (I think
- I haven't gotten anything yet) periodic information. The site looked
interesting, so here it is:
http://www.faithability.org/
Once again, your comments, thoughts, and ideas on this and other blogs
are welcomed!
About Disabilitykey.com & Carolyn Magura:
Disabilitykey.com is a website designed to assist each person in his/her
own unique quest to navigate through the difficult and often conflicting
and misleading information about coping with disabilities.
Carolyn Magura, noted disability / ADA expert, has written an e-Book
documenting the process that allowed her to:
a) continue to work and receive her “full salary” while on Long Term
Disability; and
b) become the first person in her State to qualify for Social Security
Disability the FIRST TIME, in UNDER 30 DAYS.
Click here to receive Carolyn 's easy-to-read, easy-to-follow direct
guide through this difficult, trying process. If you are disabled, don't
let this disabiling process disable you. Read Carolyns Disability Key
Blog.

								
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