Live, Laugh, Love

This is a close up photo of Virali Modi. She is looking away from the camera to the left and she is smiling.

I always get asked this question: How can I cope with being disabled? How do I live my life after such a drastic change?

I always get asked this question: How can I cope with being disabled? How do I live my life after such a drastic change? Honestly, I don’t blame anyone who has these questions because going from a healthy and normal lifestyle to something different is incredibly difficult. I had no help and no one to guide me when I became wheelchair bound, because I didn’t know of any online support groups. The internet is a blessing – there are so many online support groups now that can help people with depression, health management, suicide, disability and other topics of interest, and they’re quite effective.

Recently, I came across this question: “As a 23 year old, how do I cope with the anger, pain and frustration of being physically disabled?” This question hit a nerve, because I went through the same thing as the original poster of the question, except I was only 14 years old at the time. Like I mentioned, I had no support of other people that were going through the same situation as mine, my family didn’t support me­ – except my parents, and my friends didn’t talk to me because they didn’t want to hang out with me because apparently I was too big of a burden.

I suppose because of my disability I didn’t get to complete my education – I was quite self conscious of the way I looked; I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. In the original details of the aforementioned question, the poster wrote that he/she completed their education, and I was utterly jealous, but quite proud and fond of the dedication he/she had. I only wished that I had the same amount of dedication as the poster, I didn’t ­- I was weak and I lacked self­esteem. I think self­-esteem and overall confidence is incredibly important while going through a traumatic situation, not only does it make you more approachable, but it makes you aware of life, aware of the things that you took granted before your situation, and makes you more grateful for what you have.

Recently a friend and I were discussing the first time he and I met; he told me that he assumed all wheelchair bound people are dull and lead boring lives, mainly because he’s never seen them out and about in lounges and bars. It’s quite the contrary, most people that I know lead lavish lifestyles, they enjoy partying and hanging out with friends, just like able­-bodied persons. Being confident in your own skin can prove so many people wrong ­- the only thing that’s changed is your physical state; now you’re sitting down most of the time instead of walking, and that really isn’t such a big deal. What shouldn’t change is your personality and who you were before whatever traumatic situation.

Most people get tremendously depressed because of their disability and stop talking to their friends and family, they keep asking themselves the question, “Why me?” They blame themselves and/or God about their situation and become isolated, silent, and depressed. They suffocate themselves by not going out, staying at home, and by becoming frustrated; which is wrong in the long run, according to me. Sure, everyone needs time to cope with a life changing situation, everyone gets depressed and isolated from the people they care about, and everyone asks themselves the question, “Why me?”, but that stage shouldn’t be permanent, because it can affect your relationships with other people tremendously.

What really helped me was going out with my parents and facing my greatest fear – judgement of other people. I soon realized that most people were really helpful and really cared that I was safe. Slowly and gradually I started making friends, they didn’t have any problems of me being in a wheelchair. They’d take me out and I’d have a great time. Over time, I developed unbreakable self confidence and realized that my perception of myself is the most important thing in the world. Other people can say whatever they want about me, they can stare at me, and they can hate on me, but if I love who I am and if I’m comfortable in my skin, I shouldn’t have to worry about what anyone else thinks. I won’t lie, this took me a couple of years to understand.

In short, what I want to say is that your perception of yourself is the most important thing in the world, loving who you are is incredibly important and effective. If you love yourself, you don’t need anyone else loving you. Whether you’re disabled or not, being comfortable in your own skin can do wonders for your confidence. Being angry because you’re disabled is granted, but coming over that anger and frustration is what’s important. Go out, prove people wrong with your lovely and lively personality, and be fierce and welcoming. That’s how you can deal with disability and basically any other problem in life. Your confidence will take you places you’ve never imagined.

Live, Laugh, Love, because life is short; life is meant to be enjoyed.