Addressing Hopelessness in my Disabled Peers with Spirituality & Productive Activities

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.

This video is super relatable to wheelchair users and laugh-out-loud hilarious. The video, which highlights inaccessibility in cities, is linked to his name in the paragraph below.

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.

Exercise

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!

Write/Draw/Craft/Etc.

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.

Conclusion

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.

28 comments

  1. Very thought provoking post, Lily! Great ideas for keeping us filled with hope and keeping us going no matter the other limitations we face!
    I have often gone too far with the ‘doing nothing’ then ending up feeling hopeless as a result of the lack of meaningful and purposeful activity. But I have also gone too far with pursuits of meaning, too, and losing sight of loving Jesus, Himself, as I focused a bit too much on my love of serving Him. That ‘flesh’ is just so sneaky, haha, it gets me no matter which tact I choose.
    So I think avoiding hopelessness is also about staying fully rooted in Christ–for the sake of loving Him as He is and as He reveals Himself in His word. Then there is the kind of life, and activity, and rest (sometimes ebbing and flowing–with periods of healing rests, and lower activity) which flows from that connection to Christ, rather than from human will and willpower–which can accomplish great things even with physical limitations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Salt! What you are saying reminds me of the post you made the other day and how we need balance between doing nothing and doing too much. You are right that we can get so busy serving God and forget to actually just bask in Him and His goodness. I bet this is a widespread problem–people who are constantly involved in church functions and ministry projects but not making time to have a long prayer or delve into some scripture. As you say, if we are connected to Christ, we can have the kind of life that flows from that connection with both activity and rest (or service and sabbath, if we want to employ some alliteration, hehe).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I love the alliteration between service and sabbath–well put and exactly what I was getting at! And it sure seems that us (me included!) ‘good and faithful church people’ can be the most susceptible for serving far more than we sabbath.
        I also think “play time” is super important for anyone with disabilities, health, or other life challenges!! Be sure to do things you truly enjoy every day, too!

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  2. This is very inspiring, Lily. Thank you for sharing hope with the rest of the world. The world could use some of it right now.

    I feel bad whenever I see people who are depressed because of their disabilities. I try to put myself in their shoes and imagine what I would do if I were them. Depending on how limiting the disability is, I probably would have given up on life.

    You’re right. Unproductive activities like watching TV, playing video games, listening to music, and social media might seem effective at first, but this is only temporary. It’s not the best option.

    If they don’t engage in productive activities (like blogging, painting, crafting, etc), socialise with people who make them feel better, and learn to love themselves and their lives, I fear they would start nursing dangerous thoughts โ€” such as committing suicide.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Obinna! One always wonders what they would do if they had another’s persons problems. People can look at someone’s circumstances and say, “I couldn’t do it if that happened to me.” But I think, “Yes you would because you wouldn’t have a choice.” Everyone gets dealt a less-than-perfect hand in life, and we all decide how we are going to handle our individual problems, either making the best of them or making the worst of them. I choose to make the best of things.

      You are right that some people with no hope go to the extreme of committing suicide, but many people who are hopeless just settle for an empty shadow of a life. I want people to know that there is hope no matter what their problems are.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So proud of you. As your grandma, I and your parents have encouraged you to do as much for yourself as you can. Back in 2003 when my surgery did not turn out as expected and I was in rehab, it was you who wrote encouraging notes to me. (I would find paper napkins with your notes around the room. I still have them). So thankful that you have a strong faith in God and believe that you have a reason for being. You are an inspiration to many. Iโ€™ll keep finding jobs for you.LOL. Luv you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A thought-provoking blog as always, Lily. I think that this one especially is a call to prayer: that God’s love may be directed at those disabled people who are filled with hopelessness; that they may become the new creations Christ wants them to be! God bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Knowing our purpose—recognizing that we have a purpose—is so important. It drives us to get up in the morning and to press on, even if at times we may not feel like it. Thanks for sharing your heart and your experiences Lily. I’m working on my “what I’ve been up to lately post” like you suggested. Grateful for your encouragement. Blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is so true; thank God we know our purpose! I look forward to reading that and catching up with your recent blog posts. I’m on letter “T” today (lots of blog sites start with the word “the”) ๐Ÿ™‚

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  6. I struggle and I have illnesses that pale in comparison to a lot of disabilities. When you’re in pain and are constantly exhausted, doing things becomes incredibly challenging, but losing purpose and meaning in your life is even more painful. Great post with some interesting suggestions! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Caz xx

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Interesting article about disabilities and related issues. It is my belief that once one understands how to accept pain and live with it, no matter how horrible the pain is, then one has a grasp on the key to getting through life, living joyfully each day and working, step by step, towards the goal. And on the โ€˜hopeโ€™ issue, thereโ€™s always hope, no matter what, no matter where. This is only an opinion, but I agree with it, so Iโ€™ll leave it here. Smiles. Peace. artfromperry

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for dropping by, dear! I see what you mean that one can learn to live joyfully after they accept (and learn to manage) their pain. I am blessed not to have much pain, aside from clumsy bangs and bruises. I agree that there is always hope out there if we are paying attention to all the good in the world. Peace to you also โ™ฅ

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