Last week I talked about The Secret Garden and how Colin’s entire disability was a product of misconception and rumor. However, my mind didn’t stop there. I was struck by how many of Colin’s problems could have been and/or were fixed by just giving him something to think about besides everything that could go wrong in his life. One of the most common reactions to disability in life, as well as other media, is the thought “my life is over”, or “they’ll never do anything for themselves again”. Even if the reaction isn’t as strong as that, it’s an insidious little thought that can find its way into the most rugged of souls. “Why do I push myself so hard?” “Is it really worth all this pain?” Sometimes we do need to step back and re-evaluate where we’re putting all our energy. But I also think it’s really important not to let pain, fatigue, fear, and complacency take away our passion or drive us into damaging introspection.
Self-awareness is usually a pretty good thing, but I know for me personally, I have a tendency to think too much, to worry and second guess, to live in my own head. That’s where the depression starts; it’s where I lose my passion and the will to push through – in my head. Sometimes the answer is just finding something that distracts me from worry and second guessing. The less I think about it, the smaller it gets until suddenly the problem is bite-sized; not this looming, all-powerful thought chasing me around the inside of my skull.
If we let the fear and complacency win, we all become Colin, lying in bed waiting for the end so we can finally escape the misery and boredom. That’s where we need a challenge, something to inspire us and work towards. Without it our own thoughts get the better of us. Without it we become more disabled.
And our challenges don’t have to be earth shattering. Colin lacked even the motivation to get out of bed in the morning because everyone told him he couldn’t. Standing up can be a challenge. Taking a step. Just sitting up and thinking about something other than pain and fatigue instead of rolling over, back into that familiar, wasting mindset.
Find a hobby. Find a friend. Find a goal that takes you out of yourself and away from your fears and your doubts. Strength is elusive if you’re not searching for it.