Having patience with my disabled self was a challenge to me. I’ve tried never to be a whiner, but sometimes I can be too hard on myself. I’ve tried to lighten up. I set challenging goals and standards for myself, but I’ve lowered the bar to a reasonable height. It relieved a lot of stress and aggravation just slowing the pace down a little to accommodate my limitations.
I felt, because I was disabled I had something to prove to others. Sometimes checking your ego at the door makes a world of difference. Now I pitch in and do what I can rather than cop the attitude, ‘I can work circles around you and get it done without your help.’
Relying on others caused me frustration and resentment. That’s a particularly difficult one for me because I forgot that helping is good for the helper as well as the person being helped. Accepting a hand when necessary doesn’t mean lazing around all day being fanned and hand-fed by minions, just graciously accepting help and kindness when others offer it. It makes them feel good. And then there’s my best friend’s perspective: She said, “Terri, if the situation were reversed, would you do this for me?” She got an immediate, “of course!” And so I chilled out about letting her help me. When I’m able, I find ways to help her too. Because that’s what friends do: help each other.
Multi-tasking was driving me insane. I would rather do one or two chores well than do several chores inadequately or leave them unfinished. I keep an ongoing to-do list from which I choose a couple of items every morning. Once they’re complete I choose a couple more. I give myself extra time to complete tasks because my routine includes dealing with the disability obstacle course and often learning to use new equipment.
I learned to rest before I started hurting. If you don’t slice a pizza and chew it bite by bite you’re going to choke. Same with daily activity; break it into manageable blocks with plenty of time for your body to rest and heal in between. Pacing myself eliminated not only pain and discomfort, but also a major source of stress and frustration.
I admitted I was depressed. My answer was to try some St. John’s Wort, and it, along with a little daily meditation changed my entire attitude and outlook on life. I never miss a dose, and I get the meditation in too because I care enough about the people around me to care for myself.
Gaining patience for yourself is a work in progress. When you’re frustrated, try and look at yourself the way others look at you, and cut yourself some slack.