Helping Others Helps Me
Last updated: October 2023
Living with a disability like spinal muscular atrophy can be difficult at times. My 46 years of experience have taught me some life lessons about what is important to me. The dreams I had in college always revolved around being rich. Money was a big driver for me when I was young. There are times I wonder how successful I could have been if I didn’t have spinal muscular atrophy. Those types of thoughts are not great for anyone’s mental health.
A sense of purpose
In previous articles, I have written about how I try to navigate my thoughts into a positive state. Over the years I have been trying to help others with their problems. This has given me the feeling of having a sense of purpose. Having a purpose is something that can provide us with a feeling of fulfillment. Sometimes people who live with a physical disability have feelings of worthlessness. Let me remind you that there are many ways to provide yourself with feelings of self-worth.
What are your passions?
Discovering what your passions are is part of the journey in life. Sometimes it can be fun and other times it can feel challenging. Living with a disability can make you want things that aren’t physically possible. My Dad is one of those guys who can build or fix anything. When I was younger I loved being by his side helping and learning along the way. The desire to build and fix things is still a passion of mine. Unfortunately for me the physical toll of my spinal muscular atrophy has made it impossible. That is something that I have to deal with. Just like any other person who has a physical disability.
Have you found something to help you mentally cope with SMA?
The desire to be able to build and fix things somehow manifested into a desire to help others. I can’t really pinpoint when it happened but I have always been someone who enjoys social interactions. Being able to interact and talk to people is still something I enjoy doing. Over the years, I have developed a pretty good ear for listening to people. Helping others work through their problems helps me forget about my own. It also reminds me that everyone encounters difficulties in their own lives.
Looking for balance in your life
The key is finding balance in your life. Don’t let your physical disability drag your mental health down. It can be hard to find something in your life that brings you fulfillment. Just because it’s harder doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We can have wonderful lives in spite of our physical disabilities. The key is having patience and not giving up. I hear from many people who shut themselves out of social interactions because they feel their disability is a burden to others.
People respond to positivity. Make a concerted effort to change your mindset. Be open to stepping out of your comfort zone. People who make inappropriate comments are not always trying to make us feel bad about ourselves. Don’t let them bring you down. Find your own path and purpose that brings fulfillment to your life. I always say we only get to experience this world once so make the best of your situation and don’t ever give up!
Have you shared your SMA diagnosis story with us yet?