Forty-seven people get a spinal cord injury every day in the U.S. That’s more than 17,500 new spinal cord injuries each year. But for each of these people, the accident that causes their injury changes their entire lives.
Being born disabled means you learn how to live with your impairment from a young age. Being disabled due to an injury brings many mental challenges with a new type of loss. You have to take everything you knew about living your life and thrown it out the window. You go from being able to walk around on your own and take care of yourself to entirely depending on someone else to take care of most of your basic needs.
This can be a massive hit to your self-esteem, especially if you were independent before the accident. Potential partners can avoid you for a belief that you can’t be sexually intimate. People start looking at you differently. And that’s incredibly disheartening.
Why Your Self-Esteem Suffers from a Spinal Cord Injury
When you get a spinal cord injury, your life turns upside-down overnight. People will talk to you less or treat you differently—people who you thought would be there for you no matter what.
Paralysis isn’t the only symptom that can come from a spinal cord injury. Loss of bladder control and tingling sensations in your legs can also occur. If you aren’t used to this, it can be embarrassing. You might feel like the things that are happening with your body are your fault.
Right after you got your injury, you had to change your life to work around your new physical limitations. You may have had to move to a new home, get a new job, and start seeing physical therapists more often. It affects more than your physical abilities.
You know you’re still the same person. It doesn’t make sense for everyone around you to treat you as if you’re some anomaly. And yet, you’re left having to deal with it.
Even if everyone in your life sticks with you, there’s still the question of changed physical abilities. It can be demeaning and defeating to realize that you can’t walk again or that you’ll always rely on mobility aids, doctors, and medical advances to function in your life. Being dependent on other people in this way is terrifying. It’s almost like giving up control over your life to someone else and just hoping they won’t do anything bad with it.
How Those Changes Affect Dating
When it comes to dating, you must find someone willing to work around that as well. And many people will stay away from things they don’t understand. This can make you feel like something is wrong with you and like no one wants to be around you.
Using any kind of mobility aid gives something for people to gawk at. They see it and subconsciously avoid you. Most of them aren’t trying to do it, and many of them aren’t aware of it. Some are, and those people are the ones to stay away from.
Ways to Boost Your Self-Esteem
Better self-esteem allows you to take risks and reach out to people while dating. Learning how to improve your self-esteem will make it easier for you to handle the rejection that’s part of dating—no matter if you have an injury or not.
Find Dating Sites Where People Accept You as You Are
Using a disability dating site is hard because it means recognizing your situation has changed. Sometimes, embracing that can feel like the last thing you want to do. It’s easier to avoid it because then you can live with the idea you had of yourself before you got injured.
People on these sites have been through what you’re experiencing. They’ve gone through this loss and frustration. They want to do everything they can to support you and help you get through this. You may even find the love and support that you needed before.
Remind Yourself of What You Can Do
Often times after an injury, it’s easy to get caught in the mind trap of what you can’t do. After all, you’ve had to accept your physical limitations. However, there’s still plenty of things you can do. You can listen to a friend when they’re struggling. You can support those in need. You still have things you can do physically.
There’s nothing anyone can say to you that will make your injury unhappen. However, learning to love and embrace your life as it is now will help you be happy no matter what happens.
What’s Next? Talk with others. Take action.
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