Self-Healing Expressions
disability depression, coping strategies, disability resources, online coping course
Bringing the self to healing, one lesson at a time.
  disability depression, coping strategies, disability resources, online coping course

Disability and Depression ~ Coping Strategies

The Joy Of Coping: Overcoming The Stress of Dis-ease
The Joy Of Coping: Overcoming The Stress of Dis-ease
This course is for those struggling with the dis-ease. Lessons support and guide learner to reclaim their dignity and life after a debilitating illness has occurred. Lessons can also help caretakers, spouse, and family of a disabled or seriously ill person better understand and support their loved one.
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"Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming it."
~ Helen Keller

Disability and Depression: Grieving the Loss of Self
By Arthur Soissons-Segal, Ph.D. ~ Therapist and Brain Tumor Survivor

Grief is a natural response to the loss of a significant other - be that a parent, a child or a pet. But with the occurrence of a serious disability or disease, the loss is of YOU.

Losing Your Identity
Perhaps you have lost your "old" identity as a parent, as a worker, as a man or a woman, as an independent person. You do not know who you are, you do not recognize yourself. In the case of multiple sclerosis, one is compelled to slow down physical activities; in the case of a malignant cancer, one faces a life to be shortened by death; in the case of a spinal cord injury, one confronts a future of dependence on family or aids.

Disability and Depression
The experience of loss is overwhelming. You face an unknown future. You are confined to a life prescribed by others. You fear for your human self, for your sexual self.

You have lost yourself and you experience depression, anxiety, and confusion.

Take comfort in the fact that these reactions are "normal" and not to experience them may indicate certain emotional problems.

Grieving the Old You
In 1969 Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote the book, On Death and Dying, which she identified the stages of grief, namely:
  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining with God -- to erase or at least prolong the verdict
  • Depression, and lastly
  • Acceptance of the verdict.
A similar progression of stages, although not necessarily in that order, is observed in persons who have lost their former self due to a disability.

You must go through these stages in order to move beyond them. Your challenge is to transcend these stages and to move on to a new life. Having mourned the departure of the old self, you can look forward to embracing the new self.

Find some suggestions below on how to begin this process.

Transcending Grief over the Loss of Self
There are many ways to transcend grief. Here are some suggestions that have helped others...
  • Join an online or offline support group.

  • Knowledge is power. Learn what challenges are ahead and ways to respond positively to these challenges.

  • Confide in a close friend or a spouse. Be selective of the person you choose as the recipient of your grief. Select a person you trust. Someone can listen without giving advice or criticizing you.

  • Journal writing has been proven to support healing. Maintain a journal of your thoughts.

  • Meditate

  • Exercise

  • Write a "good-bye" letter to your old self. Tell your old self that you will miss him/her.

  • Send yourself a positive affirmation daily: On a 3 x 5 index card write: "I will build a new self." Keep the card in your pocket or purse and read it daily.

  • Slowdown. Be aware of your impatience, your grouchiness, and your fears. Make your spouse aware of these feelings.

Development of the new self happens as you proceed along the healing path. Give it time. It will occur at a speed determined by the opportunities you recognize and act on.

To receive this lesson in full and previous lessons, enroll in Art's online coping course today with coping strategies.

Excerpted from Arthur Soissons-Segal's online coping course The Joy Of Coping: Overcoming The Stress of Dis-ease. Art is a therapist and brain tumor Survivor. Learn more about Art and his online coping course here.

Copyright © 2006 Arthur Soissons-Segal. All rights reserved.