The term disability refers to any physical (or mental) malfunctioning which prevents someone from being the healthiest version of themselves. Disability comes in many forms, from a severe life-long condition to a minor bone fracture- the severity of a disability may range, but the hardship disability induces remains the same. For me, I face disability in the form of amplified pain syndrome, minor nerve damage, and repeated knee injury which spurs chronic pain, and both physical and mental suffering. Although my pain and suffering cannot be compared to those struggling with severe mental and physical ailments, I know what it’s like to not be able to control my health and, in a sense, my way of life. At the age of 13, I crashed while skiing, completely detaching my ACL and meniscus along with spraining, breaking or tearing almost every other ligament in my knee. After the first surgery and six months on crutches, the recovery of my knee only hastened the physical decline of the rest of my body.
But eventually I learned to cope with my chronic pain by fully committing myself to recovery and remaining active. Regardless of how severe your injury may be, attempt to stay active in any way you can… whether it be by strengthening your upper body, going on daily walks or just getting out of the house once in a while. Any sort of fresh air and movement can help ease your physical pain and enliven your spirit. I also rely on the kindness and support of those surrounding me in order to endure my physical struggles. For me, my physical pain is obvious due to my years of wearing a giant brace and constant limping, so those around me knew I was struggling and either showed me compassion or avoided me for it. This compassion eased my struggling and provided me with enough support to endure the heartache of stigmatization from others. So, provide support to others because one day you too will be among those you may have seen as nothing more than “broken” or “crippled”, and will be dependent on this empathy.