The Barriers to Disabled People’s Happiness

I strongly believe that everyone has the opportunity to achieve happiness if they wish it, including disabled people. By happiness, I mean a natural contentment, a level of inner stability and a positive outlook that enables people to deal with anything that life throws at them. It is not a perfect state of bliss but rather an achievable state of being that we can have if we are willing to make the effort to grasp it.

For people who have been born with impairments, like myself, they do not know what it is like to be any different and so they have a strong self-identity as disabled people and will be on a whole be happy with life, as I am. But the majority of impairments happen during people’s lives and are more likely as we get older. The onset of impairment, whether sudden or gradual, will create a change in a person’s identity and this will result in some form of grieving process that the person may or may not recognise.

The grieving process can have up to six stages, which are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance and celebration. I would like to believe that the proper completion of the grieving process goes a long way to enabling someone to be happy, and this is where I feel we have the problem. The grieving process for anything may take a few days, weeks, months, years or even decades. The way each person comes to terms with having impairments is going to be very different and I am not about to prescribe any rules. However, I will say that the biggest barrier to disabled people’s happiness is often that they are stuck somewhere in the grieving process, often totally unaware of the problem.

I truly enjoy having cerebral palsy, and I know I am not alone, but there are so many people who are not happy with being impaired because they have not reached the acceptance stage of the grieving process. Their dislike of their situation is transferred into a belief all disabled people dislike being disabled and this forms a pity model of disability. If any stages of the grieving process are not properly recognised and supported it can be destructive for themselves and people around them.

The potentially most destructive stage is anger and this is where people’s unhappiness of their situation is thrown into sometimes irrational rage for things which they feel challenges them. This is where we can see the rage against any supposed cuts ‘against disabled people’, as newly impaired people focus their anger on anything or anyone who goes against their maybe unrealised dislike for themselves. I believe this is the central reason why some of my previous articles and comments have caused such a reaction by people clearly still coming to terms with their impairments. They will clearly deny this but as they are often consumed by their unrealised grief, they will not be able to stand back and see what their anger is doing to them and others as it manifests itself into hatred, jealousy, envy and so on.

My frustration is not with the uncontrollable actions of people going through an inescapable process of achieving acceptance at some point in the future, but how the liberal media and the charities exploit disabled people’s irrational anger for their own objectives, without providing them access to proper emotional support to achieve happiness. The rational leaders of campaign groups have used the anger of grieving individuals for centuries, delaying the process in others to have their pawns, ready to believe anyone is their enemy. With the era of social media, these pawns can be pointed towards the people who challenge the views of the leadership, acting like piranhas as they verbally strip individuals to the bone quicker than you can say anything.

Since the media, charities and campaign groups benefit from stopping disabled people finishing their grieving process, we are left with a growing population of very angry people. This is made worse by the fact the NHS, DWP, ATOS, Social Service departments and so on very often have no understanding of the grieving process, let alone be able to recognise and support individuals to come to terms with their impairments. It is not until there is a greater focus on the emotional journey can many people with impairments achieve some kind of happiness. This happiness will also make them stronger to challenge the cuts that may directly affect them in a way they will be currently unable to do, trapped in a world full of red mist.

This article is likely to receive a hostile response because it is difficult to tell people what they are not ready to hear, even if they need to hear it. Personal attacks are a symptom of the problem this article deals with as many disabled people fail to understand happiness has little to do with what they have, or what is external to them, but rather how they feel.

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