For the past few months, I have been writing posts about issues related to spinal cord injury and disability in general. The goal of these posts has been to create awareness so that the general public might learn one or two things about some of the things that we go through. In order to educate the masses, I have tried to be as candid and open as possible. Beneath the fabric all these posts however, there has been a common aura. Here is where my story begins – From Stairs To Ramps: The Beginning – The Accident That Changed My Life
I have written in detail about pressure sores, cold sweats, bowel movements, urinal tract infections, prejudice, loss of sexual function, difficulty finding love and work… It has always been about the things that I have lost. Today, I intend to change the script by writing about the upside of being on a wheelchair?
Could it be? Is there really an upside to paralysis?
As strange as it might sound, I have grown more confident since I sat on this chair. Maybe it’s the realization that I will always stand out anywhere I go. People will always pry with their eyes and there is nothing I can do about it. There is one thing I can do; build up my confidence in such a way that their reactions don’t faze me. I wasn’t too shy before the accident, but I would get really nervous and sweaty in front of crowds. I had a hard time speaking out and articulating my thoughts, I preferred to remain at the back and blend in. This hardly ever happens these days.
Since being on this chair, I have become very self-aware about the things I can do and the things I can’t. Disability imposes particular constraints on a person. This forces us to reevaluate our strengths and acknowledge our weaknesses. I have learnt the difference between trying and trying too hard. If I dropped my phone on the floor, I will be wise to find help elsewhere because I know I can’t pick it up. This realization has saved me a great deal of worry and stress. Now I only focus my energy on tasks that I know I can complete.
It is common for we as young people to go through certain phases in our lives where we struggle to find purpose. Being able to figure life out is a skill that has eluded millions of people around the world and I remember a time when I too, fell victim.
I put so much pressure on myself, I wanted to juggle education, friends, parties, girls…all at the same time. I was bound to drop one and as fate would have it, it’s usually the most important thing that falls to pieces.
Right before the accident, I had slowly lost my drive as a young man and in its place came insecurity, anxiety and a constant worry that I was watching my life go down the drain. All this was self-inflicted, I had lots of people around me who really cared and wanted to see me do better and be better.
The easy way out of these issues was to drown myself in a pool of self-pity and cheap liquor. I wasn’t a drunkard, but I was headed there. It didn’t matter if I had the best things around me, my mind could allow me to see it. All I felt was a feeling of resounding loss; loss of peace.
When the accident came, it showed me what real loss looked like, smelt like and felt like. I had made my bed, it was time to lie on it. The feelings I had once created in my mind were manifesting in the physical form.
Being in bed for months and months gives you enough time to get over yourself and do what needs doing. I had to make a conscious decision to try and be better. I wanted to smile more, give more, love more… I wanted more life. Finding purpose in my darkest hour shone a new light in my life. I taught myself to be a critical thinker and to challenge life. I started to see all the love that I had taken for granted and all the hearts I had broken just because I wanted to beat myself up.
Being able to sleep soundly is an upside. Discovering my essence as a man is an upside. Being comfortable to test my limits even with the risk of failure is an upside. I want to see what my future holds, I don’t want to die young, my mind is curious, and it is centred. My body is bound to this chair, but my mind is free. Here is the next part of my story From Stairs To Ramps: I Now Feel Like I Have Something To Live For But It Wasn’t Always This Way