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Disability and Mental Health
Today Ellie from Deafie Blogger talks to us about mental health alongside disability. Ellie is a profoundly deaf blogger and deaf activist who is passionate about deaf awareness and campaigning for deaf people and who's motto is: ‘Deaf people can achieve anything they dream of, given the right support’.
For us who have a disability, we usually think about our physical health. Whether we are deaf (like me), blind, autistic, have cerebral palsy or any other disability, we might focus more on how our disability affects us physically or in a sensory way, for example; whether we can hear, see, walk or talk etc and how that disability affects what we can or can't do.
We might not always consider our mental health and how our disability might affect us mentally or emotionally. Learning to understand our mental health is very important. We all want to be happy in life, but this isn't always easy if we have a disability which makes life difficult, if we feel different to others, if others don't understand or if we are in pain.
It is helpful for all of us to look after our mental health, especially if life can at times feel really stressful. Many people can experience mental health problems at some point in their life such as depression or anxiety. Understanding our mental health is really important for keeping ourselves well.
There are lots of simple things we can all do to improve our mental health and wellbeing:
Being in touch with our feelings:
This might sound quite strange, but we might not always understand our emotions, why we feel as we do. Learning to recognise different feelings such as anger, sadness, frustration, loneliness etc. For example if we feel angry, it might help to talk this through with someone we trust, the feeling might then make more sense to us.
Taking time out:
Some days we might feel as though everything is getting on top of us or we can't cope. Stress can have such a negative effect on our wellbeing, so occasionally we might just need to take a few minutes 'out' to just sit, relax and just concentrate on the here and now. If I find life getting too stressful, I'll just take a few minutes out to chill and look after myself or to get out in the fresh air.
Listen to our senses:
You might think this is a strange thing for a deaf person to say, but what I mean is you’re having a bad day, just taking some time to just concentrate on what you can see, hear, touch, taste and smell if you are able, it might just be enough to stop any troubling thoughts or worries in your head. Being able to just 'be' is a good tool to have.
Lots of little things:
Looking after our mental health doesn't have to involve big changes or having huge goals. Small, but significant steps are usually far better to improve our wellbeing. Sitting in the sunshine, eating an orange instead of having a fizzy drink, singing in the shower or dancing along to our favourite song can all help our feel good factor. A good skill to have is to learn to be kind to ourselves.
Our disabilities might not allow us to do everything we would like, so there are no hard and fast rules, what might work for one, might not another, it is important to do the things which work best for you, to identify little things which make you happy, which mean something to you.
It's good to remember that although living with a disability gives us more challenges, if we can be more mindful of our mental health, then this might help us to live happier lives.
Have you found that disability has had an effect on your mental health? How have you dealt with this? Do you think there is enough support for disabled people and mental health? Share your experiences now.