Sunday, July 15, 2007

Email question on resilience

A reader who is newly disabled writes asking for tips on developing resilience. He says he needs more resilience because he's feeling frustrated a lot. I link above to some tips over at the Mayo Clinic website along with a quiz to take.

But I'd like to mention that some folks mix up resilience with stoicism. Adapting when it comes to your disability, whether it's a newly acquired one or you're taking on a new task or have a change in your disability or your life circumstances, can involve a temporary set of "challenges" that can take varying times to deal with. While you're going through this, it's normal to have feelings - maybe grief, frustration, anger, joy, excitement - it can vary. The important thing is to hang in there.

Let's take the example of learning to use adaptive equipment. Realistically, some equipment takes awhile to get fitted and/or to fund and find. Then you need to learn to use it and the learning curve may be at a pace that tries your patience. Sometimes you need to arrange for the help of an occupational therapist or another expert.

It can be easy to get down on yourself while you're going through all of this and if folks around you don't understand they may inadvertently add to it rather than support you at each step of the process. One young guy I met never got his driver's license because his dad had trouble dealing with the frustrations of waiting at each step and kept complaining to his son "It's taking too long!" I pointed out that if his son gave up, he'd never get it and boy that was going to be a long wait. Nevertheless, his dad missed seeing the big picture.

I wouldn't worry though. Not only is it a waste of energy, but many problems get ironed out with time, effort and patience. What can look insurmountable when you're just starting a process looks much easier when you reach the middle and later stages.

Feel free to leave comments of how you dealt with adapting - or if you need some support as you go through a change. Often the best advice/suggestions I get are from other members of the disability community.

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