Becoming disabled after an accident is more complicated than being born with a disability. The reason is that you have had a taste of a “normal” life already. You have been able to do whatever you want without worrying about any part of your body failing after an hour or two. You can ride a motorcycle or even go up the steps in your house without asking for assistance from anyone. Then, all of a sudden, you find yourself in a helpless situation, and there is nothing that you or the doctors can do about it.
Because of that, most disabled individuals try to hide what’s wrong with them as much as possible. “There are feelings of shame, embarrassment, vulnerability, paranoia. Disclosing your illness can make you feel isolated and less valuable,” said psychotherapist Katie Willard Virant, JD, MSW, LCSW.
If someone ends up hearing about their problem, they get mad at the person who talked about it without their consent. In their mind, the people who already see them in their new state will mock or pity them. Understandably, it will not sit well with them.
However, the truth is that there are a few benefits that come with letting people know about your disability.
1. You Will Realize Who Genuinely Care For You
Persons with disabilities are one of the last groups whose equal rights have been recognized, said Jody Heymann, MD, PhD.
Thus, the first thing that you can accomplish by announcing your situation is that you will realize who genuinely care for you. If we stick to honesty here, we are all aware that the perception of people about us can change when something terrible happens to us. Some of your friends may decide to stay away from you, thinking that you are now a liability. Others may talk negatively behind your back, too. Despite that, there will undoubtedly be several sweet souls who will come forward and lend you a helping hand, no strings attached.
2. They Will Go Out Of Their Way To Accommodate You
When you tell your loved ones or acquaintances that you already have a permanent disability, you are not robbing them of their chance to plan gatherings that will not be uncomfortable for you.
According to Mayra Mendez, PhD, LMFT, “Part of not being lonely is not taking for granted the people that are already in your life.” It’ll help you keep friends in your life.
For instance, in case you cannot get out of your wheelchair, they can decide to do a staycation instead of going on a hike. If you cannot see anymore, they will not prepare games that require the use of your sense of sight.
3. You Can Avoid Shocking New Acquaintances
Letting people know about your disability allows them to process how they feel about the situation. After all, if your positions have been reversed, and you find out that a colleague is now a PWD when you face them, you may not know how to react as well. Various expressions may be evident on your face, such as shock, pity, sadness, and other negativities. However, if you inform them beforehand, you are allowing them to avoid making a mess in front of you.
It is not a bad idea to tell everyone in your circle about your disability. It does not turn you into an attention-seeking person either who has to have everyone at their beck and call. Doing so will be convenient not only for you but also for the people around you.