You are never helpless! Nearly one in five American adults have a mental illness, including millions of people who use wheelchairs.
Living with a wheelchair and dealing with mental illness at the same time can be extremely difficult. But you are not alone. The first step you can take is to inform yourself about mental health treatments and self-care tips.
How can you know if you have a mental health problem? Who can you get help from? How can you cope with life in a wheelchair?
Monitor Your Symptoms
In order to be diagnosed with a mental health condition, you must have symptoms for several weeks or months. Track your symptoms in a notebook and record when you have them. If you experience anxiety, see if you have any triggers for your feelings.
You can also track if anything makes you feel better. Exercise releases endorphins, which are pleasurable chemicals that can improve your mood. See if your hobbies affect your emotions and write down your observations on how what you do impacts how you feel.
You can familiarize yourself with the symptoms of mental health conditions like depression. But you should not diagnose yourself, as you may pursue treatments that are not helpful. The only way to get a formal diagnosis and start a treatment plan is to visit medical professionals.
You may have multiple mental health issues at once. You can receive diagnoses for both of them, especially if you are keeping track of your symptoms.
Talk to a Psychiatrist
Once you have gathered evidence of your mental health symptoms, you should visit your doctor. They can do a medical evaluation and ask you questions about your health. After that appointment, you should see a psychiatrist.
Wheelchair users do not have to see psychiatrists in person if travel is too difficult for them. You can call someone on the phone, talk to them in a chatroom, or send them emails. Some mental health organizations offer free rides to wheelchair users so they can attend appointments as well.
During an initial appointment, the psychiatrist will ask you questions to get to know you. These questions may include queries about your physical health. Questions about a physical illness help them determine treatments and decide if a condition may be causing or exacerbating your mental health issues.
If you don’t like your psychiatrist, you can try another one. You can also join a support group for people who use wheelchairs or have a mental health condition like yours.
Pursue a Combination of Treatments
Most people need several treatments to help their mental health. You may need to take medications, which can have side effects. But most medications can provide long-term benefits, as long as you stick to a consistent schedule of taking them.
Talk therapy can also be beneficial. You can have one-on-one sessions with a psychiatrist. During these sessions, you can tell stories, complete role-playing exercises, and receive information about self-care and treatments.
If you prefer to be in a group, you can try group therapy. You can learn from other people’s stories and make connections with people who have similar experiences as you.
If you want to make connections with your family, you can try family therapy. You can work with a therapist on resolving issues within your family. You can talk about establishing rules and family roles that create peace in your house.
Some mental health centers have partial or complete residency programs. You can stay in the center during the day or overnight and learn in-depth about mental health treatment. These programs are good if you have substance abuse disorder or find it hard to take care of yourself.
Your mental health treatments should not come at the expense of your physical health. Eat a balanced diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy proteins. Exercise for at least one hour every day, and try out cardiovascular and muscle-building exercises.
Accept Your Change in Circumstances
Many people who use wheelchairs struggle with their self-esteem, especially if they are new to using one. Do not rush things and pretend you’re happy if you’re not. It is okay to spend some time grieving and thinking about the new change in your life.
Get yourself opportunities to let your emotions out. You can talk to your friends and family members, or you can make art that expresses your feelings.
However, you should not focus on your limitations. Take notes and talk to others about what you can do. Give yourself tools, including lightweight manual wheelchairs that you can put inside your car, so you can attend to your responsibilities and pursue your passions.
You should get as much help from others as you need. But you should also become your own advocate.
Inform yourself about your tools and rights and assert yourself in conversations. If someone ignores you, get their attention back and discuss what you need to be comfortable and happy.
Start Dealing With Mental Illness
Dealing with mental illness is difficult, but you can do it. Focus on yourself and track how your mental health is doing. Talk to your personal physician, then visit a psychiatrist for help.
Pursue a few treatments simultaneously, including medications and talk therapy. Give yourself outlets to express your emotions and take a break from your stressors. Acknowledge the change in your life, but get the resources you need to have a full life.
You don’t have to go far to get great mobility resources. Freedom Mobility Center offers great wheelchairs and mobility devices. Browse our store today.