…………………………..since I was retired due to my disability and ill health I have gone through all the emotions one would probably expect. Initially I was angry, really angry, to begin with at my own body. It was failing me, I finally had a job I loved, one I felt I was good at and that I made a real difference in the lives of the students I worked with. I was angry at my medical team for not having a magic sponge to fix me like there always seemed to be in the bucket playing football. I was angry at the unnamed man who caused my accident. It’s been so many years he probably doesn’t remember it anymore (he certainly won’t need to declare it on his insurance applications), I cannot remember his name anymore, and you can guarantee he won’t remember me. People think it is strange that I cannot remember the name of the person who totally changed my life but the reality is I spent so many years trying to hate him and blame him it became unhealthy so I eventually learnt to blank him out of my life, to stop the nightmares of seeing his face as we crashed every time I finally found some sleep.
I became angry at those closest to me, a defense mechanism I have perfected over the years, my minds way of pushing people away and giving them a get out clause if they wanted to leave, who wants to live with a cripple right? I was, no strike that I am a financial burden on my family, I take a lot of man hours just to wash, dress and feed each day, let alone anything else. So push them away and make them hate me as much as I hate myself. Makes perfect sense.
I hated being at home as I couldn’t cook anymore (my relaxation from a days stress previously), I couldn’t dress and wash myself, filling the washing machine and dishwasher and emptying it became impossible, cutting the grass you name it the tasks I’d done to help my family one by one have become impossible to complete and I now write the list of what meals and ingredients we need and that’s about it 😦 I’m sure my wife and family would say I do more but I do not feel like I contribute and I hate that!
Then I began to hate society and how difficult it makes it for disabled people to integrate, so many places you cannot access at all or on your own, so you rely on others to take you there. Hating the fact that you spend the whole time you are out apologising for being in the way, blocking paths/aisles etc. I must apologise over a dozen times each time I am out for moving slowly, being in the way and so on. You do that because people rush past you, and I have had on 4 occasions complete strangers move my wheelchair so they could get around me or in front of me, I kid you not but I wish I was, so I was no good at work, no good in public and no good at home therefore what good was I? = A big fat zero, nada, nothing.
The hate then gave way to guilt, guilt of all the things I can no longer do, guilt at not being able to pick my son up from his job when he works late, guilt that I can’t play what, when, where, how and why that she wants to do. Not being able to support my wife who does 40 (more like 50-60) hours work a week on top of looking after me and the housework. Guilt that I rely on my retired parents to help me, guilt that I have to rely on friends to get me out and about, guilt that I am not bringing in much of an income, guilt that I ruin days out leaving early, guilt that days out have to be meticulously planned and cannot be spontaneous.
If you are lucky and I am you will have very supportive famiends to see you through the above stages, without which (and it has done it to me before) and previously after my accident I hid away from people and lied a lot about how I was, how my mood and my mind was so low almost through embarrassment. I was dragged before into the depths of despair, to the point of no return, fortunately I met good people at that time who quite literally saved me. A mate with a pub, the locals, some former work colleagues and a sixth form reunion are all responsible for lifting me and igniting a spark in me when I was so low after my accident. Having got back to work and on with my life I have several times gone through the same set of emotions and grieving as my ability to do things reduces. I have had to face up to this so many times that I have lost count. My partner in crime passed away in his mid 20’s and he had always encouraged me to do what I wanted and what I believed in, I from time to time hear him pushing me on to do something I want to do and encouraging me not to give in, although he is not here to see what I am doing I am confident he would approve.
My family and friends have helped me to create WAG and are supporting me in this volunteer work which allows me to do a few hours here and there when I am up to it to improve accessibility for all. This gives me a phenomenal boost in my well being and a massive amount of self worth. So having gone through all the bad and negative emotions I am lucky that those famiends have dragged me through those dark times, have helped me overcome the emotions and expectations I placed on myself and come out the other end to be more positive, happier with the person I am and proud in being able to do what I can do and not focus on what I cannot!