Hi, friends. Today’s post is inspired by my peers who also have disabilities (using the term “inspired” loosely). I will address the hopelessness I have seen in recent times then provide some reflections on spirituality and suggestions of productive activities disabled people can do.
If you think most disabled people are like me–joyful despite the circumstances (not always but most of the time), sure of myself and my purpose in life, happy overall–I’m sad to say that you are mistaken.
Most disabled people with some level of notoriety, such as Zach Anner, share my positive outlook; it is truly inspirational to see a person with more obstacles than most people grabbing life by the horns. But there are so many other disabled people who are hopeless, bitter, and/or directionless.
I felt compelled to write this post after three disabled peers expressed their hopelessness on social media in a 1-2 week span.
Three Disheartening Exchanges
One person asked what other disabled people do with all their free time (many of us don’t work). I felt discouraged by the amount of responses advocating unproductive activities like “play video games” and “Netflix.” Sure, those things aren’t bad in moderation, but I can’t imagine sitting on a couch and consuming entertainment all day, every day.
Another stated that their job is the only reason they have to live and asked what others’ reasons to live were. That is depressing.
A third person, discouraged by the recent death of a disabled friend, mused whether they should “accept that they have a serious disability and give up on life.” As if coming to terms with a difficult situation automatically goes hand-in-hand with “giving up on life.”
The Purpose of Life
Having spiritual beliefs is a key factor in feeling that one’s life matters.
As a Christian, I believe the purpose of life is to spread the good news. God sent Jesus Christ as a human like you and me to understand our struggles and die to redeem humanity’s sins. We have been called by God to live into His love and grace by becoming the hands and feet of Jesus in the world–serving others, sharing God’s love, living in communion with God and our brothers and sisters so we can become better people.
The difference between my worldview and the ones I shared above seems abundantly clear to me; I actually know why I am alive. That knowledge sets my eyes on things outside of myself, which helps me deal with the tough stuff like self-pity.
Productive Things Disabled People Can Do
Aside from knowing why one’s life matters, my best advice for grappling with feelings of hopelessness is to engage in productive activities that give one a sense of accomplishment.
Start a Blog, YouTube Channel, Etc.
Produce content, build a following, interact with a community. Trust me when I say that if a person starts building their presence online, they will have PLENTY to keep them busy, yet it’s so rewarding to see hard work pay off.
Disabled people tend to make excuses (and flounder in self-loathing), but the buck stops here because I use a wheelchair and still exercise. It doesn’t matter if the workout isn’t rigorous or if it seems pitiful to an able-bodied person. It doesn’t matter if one has access to a gym or can only do home workouts. Just do something! My body AND mind always feel better after a work-out!
Create something! It could be anything–a poem, a story, a drawing, a painting, a scrapbook, a collage, jewelry, graphic designs, Pinterest crafts, etc. Expressing one’s self through art is fun. Art gives people an outlet for their thoughts and feelings, takes up time, and leaves them with a final product, which induces the feeling of accomplishment.
When I took a health and wellness survey through my (not religiously affiliated) health insurance company, spiritual health comprised a significant portion of overall wellness. I’m beginning to see why spiritual beliefs or a lack thereof can influence a person’s mental state. Feeling hopeless comes easily if life has no real meaning.
Disregarding spirituality, the activities I listed can help with feelings of hopelessness because each of them requires a person to do something and reap some reward for it. In my experience, NOT accomplishing things is a primary contributor to feeling hopeless.
Thanks for reading! What do you think of what I said about spirituality and/or productive activities to boost one’s outlook on life? What would you add to my list of activities? Let me know in the comments.