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Disability and Mental Health

deafiebloggerdeafieblogger Posts: 2Member Listener
edited October 12 in Guest blogs

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.


  • TopkittenTopkitten Posts: 185Member Talkative
    If it wasn't for my physical issues and lack of support with them I doubt I would have any MH issues at all. Instead I have many. Sometimes I can deal with them but mostly I can't.

    The simplest thing for me to do is to 'run away'. Either I sleep as much as possible or I visit women I pay for just to feel close to the world for a little while. Neither option is sustainable long term and, at the moment, isn't coping.

    I have found talking and explaining so much makes me feel worse which is why I stopped calling Samaritans. It's better talking to someone who has some idea of what I'm going through already. I should try therapy again but NHS support is minimal and I just cannot make the effort to arrange it privately.

  • thespicemanthespiceman Posts: 100Member Talkative
    Hello I have disabilities you can not see both deafness and mental health.  The problem is that with deafness is that if you can not hear is the social connection that you have with people.  I find asking people to politely repeat something they have said then they get irked or short with me.  You heard what I said I know you can hear me the words ringing in my head.  When I know I have to ask the look of impatience and no tolerance.  I once was in a meeting heard nothing all the time and sat there.  Asked for a view and opinion on a matter I had to admit can not understand you all.  Told them just for once put your fingers in your ears and now talk.  That is what I hear.  The response was a bit more understanding.  Why can not people speak clearly?  I watch old movies because I can understand and know and hear what they are saying,  New ones never watch unless audio and subtitles on.  I have great support but my social outlook is a lonely one because the communication differculty I have with people.  Worst place is the supermarkets cant not understand any cashier and have ask how much?    Also other such places as other retail outlets and cafes and eating out.  I go out to lunch once or twice a month with a lady who organises it and others attend but most of the time I can not hear anybody.  I do enjoy this but with increasing getting older it is becoming harder.  My hearing is genetic but I have found out could have been made worse by addiction.  My drinking of thirty years.  Even though I have stopped for ten years the evidence is there that long term drinking effected my health physically and mentally.
  • DannyMooreDannyMoore Posts: 516Member Chatterbox
    Hi @deafieblogger,

    this might sound strange but it's actually thanks to my autism why I can solve my emotional issues sooner and take better care of my mental health. Once I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome I researched autism finding sites and documentaries saying I may have difficulties understanding emotions. I read about all kinds of emotions to fill in the blanks, while doing so I came across many ways of solving emotional issues.

    Throughout my life I've experienced lots of verbal and physical abuse and whenever I get too unoccupied my mind stirs me up to anger by bringing some of those memories back. I restore peace to my mind by doing hobbies, exercise and assessing my whole life. When I assess my life I always come to realise there is more positivity in my life than negativity, it helps me stop concentrating and focusing on the negative. I even look at the positives that lots of us take for granted, like I've got a home, I have food and drink, I have possessions to help entertain me, I list absolutely every positive thing about my life. I can sometimes get very obsessed with things, that's the most regular mental health problem I encounter.

    I know that emotions and our mental health can affect our physical health. Like depression increases fat storage, stress causes cortisol making us unable to burn fat and lose weight. Just knowing that makes me try even harder to control my mental health and emotions.

    Don't Fear Your True Self
  • TopkittenTopkitten Posts: 185Member Talkative
    I am not classed as deaf but I do suffer Tinnitus. It is not severe enough to stop me hearing people but in crowded areas I have great difficulty hearing someone next to me. Also a lot of women have a voice pitch that makes them difficult for me to hear them.

    I know it is polite to look into someone's face when you talk to them, especially if you are a man talking to a woman. I HAVE to do it so that I can fill in blanks in the conversation by lip-reading. Unfortunately accents, which I have always had trouble with, give me even more problems now as the lip movements are different.

    The trouble with ANY disability or difficulty tends to isolate you and can accentuate MH issues.

  • karenculshawkarenculshaw Posts: 5Member Listener
    I never thought I'd say this but I do have MH issues.After a RTA many years ago,I am left with extreme pain on my right leg which was almost amputated. 8 weeks ago I lost my balance (a regular occurrence due to head injuries), tripped over my walking stick and broke the ankle of my then 'good' leg.Now,2 months on and I am still unable to walk.All I seem to do at the moment is sit here and cry.To add insult to injury, my esa has been stopped.I am of course appealing this decision but it is even more stress & I feel I can't cope
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 3,234Administrator Scope community team
    Hi @karenculshaw I am sorry to hear about the difficulties you are going through, I hear this quite often from people who have had an accident or had a recent diagnosis, it can be a real shock to the system.  I have had a lot of surgeries and required bed rest for weeks afterwards each time, it got me really down and so I decided to use the time to do things I have wanted to do but not had the time.  I watched a lot of TED talks and documentaries to learn new things and I also learnt to crochet and made a blanket.  Is there anything you could do to pass the time during this difficult time of being unable to walk?

    I know this wont solve everything but perhaps it could help?

    Also if you need any support regarding your ESA appeal then please do ask our benefits advisors or you can call our helpline on 0808 800 3333.
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 3,234Administrator Scope community team
    @Topkitten when you mention tinnitus, I just wanted to share this video.  My family member has tinnitus and swears by this technique, obviously this shouldnt replace any medical advice/treatment you have had but it might be worth a try?

  • karenculshawkarenculshaw Posts: 5Member Listener
  • jacquelinemariejacquelinemarie Posts: 3Member Listener
    Hi  I have MH issues it manifests itself  as anxiety. It can be really debilitating at the moment and the last few days it has been a fight to keep my anxiety under control because MH is silent so I can get on with my job but it's difficult. My CP is a massive part of my anxiety because  it's something that I can't control and when I see the deterioration of my condition it worries me.
  • TopkittenTopkitten Posts: 185Member Talkative
    @jacquelinemarie, anxiety can be very difficult to deal with especially in a work environment. May I ask if something in particular triggered it?

    For myself it is a real battle to deal with strangers and strange places and, because of my history, it is at it's worst when dealing with doctors. I used to be a healthy and very outgoing sort of person and I find it so difficult to understand why I now have this problem. It can trigger panic attacks, in my case, which leave me shaking and crying and just trying to get away from whatever made it worse. However, knowing what causes it allows me to avoid the worst situations and make it possible for me to function relatively normally most of the time. There are times though when I can't, no matter how hard I try. For example, I was improving by meeting people through the MEETUP site but lately I have avoided going to the stuff I intended to because I haven't been able to cope.

    Anyway, that's enough waffle about me, perhaps you can open up a little more so we can help you better?

  • jacquelinemariejacquelinemarie Posts: 3Member Listener
    To be honest I'm still trying to figure out what actually triggered it but I can tell you this most of my worry results around my health and my anxiety stems from thoughts like if and when things will happen. My biggest fear is death which I know is stupid because I
    know we all have but it's how my brain works.
     I think because of being on my own for most of the  time in regards to my CP I think I have worried about it so much I have taken it to the extreme so any noticeable changes to my health freaks me out and I going to panic which then triggers the anxiety. You mentioned Meet up groupsI think that would be really good for me but there's nothing in my area. What meet up group have you been to?
  • jacquelinemariejacquelinemarie Posts: 3Member Listener
    and thanks Topkitten
  • TopkittenTopkitten Posts: 185Member Talkative
    MEETUP is a site online which also has an app for phones. There are a great number of different groups and, when you sign up, it shows those around you up to 50 or so miles away. Being able to drive lets me go to not just those in my town but also in nearby towns/cities.

    The site is "meetup.com". I hope it's ok to put this here.

  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 3,234Administrator Scope community team
    Of course @Topkitten I link to it quite often! You can click on the meetup link here.
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 3,234Administrator Scope community team
    The only thing I would say about MeetUp is that the people who set up groups have to pay to advertise groups on there so it is always good to have a look locally as well as there are lots of smaller groups who cant afford the monthly membership fee for meetup.

    Have a look at your GP surgery, library or local community centres to see what is local.
  • TopkittenTopkitten Posts: 185Member Talkative
    Good point @Sam_Scope . Another place I can suggest is if you have a local Quaker House. The one here rents out rooms to lots of different every day of the week. Another, on a more religious level, would be a local Salvation Army centre (or would that be a church?).

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