July 17, 2009, Newsletter Issue #11: Your Abilities, Your Disability, and Being Judged

Tip of the Week

Whether it is a back condition, heart condition, birth defect, or life-threatening disease that has caused your inability to work, you have to find a way to work through the physical as well as the psychological challenges.

You, more than likely, will encounter people who feel that you are not ill enough to be disabled from work. Most folks don't articulate their feelings to you, but you notice the looks, or you might overhear them talking behind your back. Only you know what you feel. Your doctors sometimes may not even completely understand what you are going through because they have never actually felt it themselves.

The hardest part in making people understand why you are disabled is actually living your everyday life. Unless you have very understanding children, a very kind spouse, or can afford to hire someone to assist you with daily household chores, you are forced to take care of things yourself. Your neighbors will see you out in the yard, doing gardening, or walking your dog, and may judge you. I have found that even close family members, who know about all the treatments and doctor visits I have had over the years, still act as though I am well enough to work. They have no idea about the level of  medication that one has to take to get through a grocery store visit, or yard that needs to be mowed. The news shows that expose people who are working and collecting disability benefits have made it worse for real disabled people. They never go back and televise some of the people that they have supposedly exposed may have just had a cortisone shot the day before, or had to take 50 milligrams of pain medicine to complete the chores that needed to be done, usually because they had no one else to do it for them or to help them with the work that must be done. These people are not around when you are lying on your bed in agony, or struggling to bend over to pick up a dropped item. We tend to hide our difficulties and keep them in the privacy of our own home, bedroom or bathroom, where we are alone.

Remember to keep your head up. Continue to strive to be happy, and do your best to ignore when you feel inadequate or judged. Only you and maybe your physicians, know exactly what you can and should be doing. And only you know what you have to do to live your daily life.

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