A baseball jumbotron shows two friends, one is in a powered wheelchair

Maintaining Friends While Living With a Disability

This topic recently came up while talking with other writers from this page. I am very outgoing and have always loved being out doing things.

Well, that hasn’t always been true. My teen years were tough and I dealt with a lot of anger dealing with my SMA diagnosis.

I enjoy being sociable

That changed when I went off to college. I was becoming more comfortable with my disability, and in turn, became more sociable.

I was extremely lucky in my late teens and early 20s. I was still walking and only used my scooter for long distances. The scooter came in handy getting back and forth to the bar during my college years.

My point is that I know it was easier to make friends because the type 3 SMA hadn’t taken away a lot of my physical functions.

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Harder to make friends now than when I was younger

Fast forward to now. I’m a 45-year-old man and SMA has taken a lot of my independence. I no longer have the ability to go out for an extended period of time without some sort of assistance.  Suzanne, who is my girlfriend and fulltime PCA, always accompanies me when I go out. At this point in my life it’s not uncommon to do social activities with your partner.

I miss going to sports games

I have always enjoyed going to Phillies and Eagles games. They are the baseball and football teams here in Philadelphia. Suzanne doesn’t like sports. To spend around $100 for a ticket for someone who doesn’t care about sports seems a waste. Attending sporting events with my friends is something I miss doing. This was always a good way to spend time with my friends where we both have a common interest.

Now it's easier to stay at home

The weaker I’ve become the more I am comfortable just staying home. I have found this isn’t good for me. Even though I’m physically weaker I’m still a very sociable person.

When I lack interaction with my friends, I become frustrated and that could lead to being depressed. I would imagine this is true for everyone. Humans need to interact with each other.

Making an effort to be sociable

My point is, sometimes we need to take the reins and move out of our comfort zones. If you are like me and enjoy social interaction, call your friends and invite them to do something. The older we get the more our friends start settling into the typical middle life that we imagine. They have a career, a family, and own their home. All of those things will take their time.

Be realistic with their time. Just because they have those things doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be friends.

Be happy for them. That’s always been my mantra. When you celebrate your friend’s accomplishments they will want to include you. Sometimes it can be easy to slip in the mode of jealousy and anger.

However, think of your own life. Do you want to hang out with someone who is angry?  I know I don’t.  Happiness is the key to life. Living with SMA can be hard, don't let it get in the way of your happiness. Having friends will definitely bring you more joy!

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