How Are You Feeling?
Healthy mind is as important as a healthy body. It helps one enjoy life with a feeling of well-being and inner strength. WHO defines Mental health as "a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community". "subjective well-being, perceived self-efficacy, autonomy, competence, intergenerational dependence, and self-actualization of one's intellectual and emotional potential, among others".
According to the U.K. Surgeon Journal (1999), mental health is the successful performance of the mental function resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with other people, and providing the ability to adapt to change and cope with adversity.
Mental health problems may arise due to stress, loneliness, depression, anxiety, relationship problems, death of a loved one, suicidal thoughts, grief, addiction, ADHD, self-harm, various mood disorders, or other mental illnesses of varying degrees, as well as disabilities.
Many women with disability are going through such mental health issues, which makes them hard to lead a satisfied life. Some of these are caused by their disability, but the major part is of the way community treats women with disability. So let's analyse how can they overcome such issues.. what are the major challenges they have.. do families or community posses any role in promoting mental health etc.
The major challenges of a women with disability, in a patriarchal society, can be explained in terms of various psychological and social problems. All these problems are caused by body shaming, oppression, discrimination, isolation, poverty, illiteracy, illness, violence, harassment, rape, unemployment and lack of legal protection.Normally people have to go through all such issues, which may not develop as mental health problems, but once they fail to cope with this for a long period it may become a problem. For example. Stressful events in one's life do not always cause mental health problems, but if you have no support in trying to understand them and work through them emotionally, it may cause mental health problems.
Women with disability are more likely to experience anxiety and depression than other women due to the stigma and isolation.
Women with disability are more likely to live in poverty than others.
Social isolation is linked to mental health problems. Working mainly in the home and concerns about personal safety can all make women with disability feel isolated.
Physical and sexual abuse can have a long-term impact on their mental health and lead to trauma, especially if they haven’t received any support.
Women are exposed to more sexual violence than men, which means more women are affected by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Most times, I feel sad. I feel like lack of energy, less interest in pleasurable activities.
My nights are sleepless these days
Some times I feel so stressed. My heart beats fast and I start breathing faster. I feel overwhelmed and unable to cope.
Sometimes I feel that I should end my life.
I feel that I am a unworthy person and it makes me numb.
To overcome all these things women with disability should achieve mental health. In usual case you need not go for a treatment. You can help yourself to overcome this. You can spend time with friends, gardening, cooing, singing, writing, painting or any such activities that you can. Practice things which help to build inner strength and mental stability.Self-esteem plays a major role in mental health. It will help you to face difficulties and challenges. Thus people start listening to you and value your opinions which will help you to feel good about yourself.
How can I achieve self-esteem?
Value your self. Value your feelings, health, and safety. Don't feel that you are worthless because you are a person with disability. Respect yourself even if you make mistakes. Think well of yourself, feel proud of what you can do and hold your head high.
Believe in your self and build courage to try new things. Learn about your strengths and weaknesses. Accept and treat your body well.
Make yourself know that you are important. Take good decisions in your life.
How can I value my self? What measurements should I take?
Make use of every opportunity to meet people. Try to go out and talk with people. Create a good rapport with them.
What if they don't want to talk to me?
Select one or two people who are patient to hear you and willing to talk with you. Thus you can reach out to more people. Share your thoughts and experiences about the challenges that come from having a disability. Try to reach out to other women with disability and make your own group. You can share your stories, difficulties, wishes, achievements etc. You people can also help each other. You can even share inspirational stories of such women with disability.
Like this your group can create your stories and share it to the world. You can curate events including your art works, writings, crafts and other things and thus make your space in the community.
Sometimes I feel that all these will not work for me.. What should I do then?
You can learn to relax. You can follow these steps.,
• Close your eyes and imagine a safe, peaceful place where you would
like to be.
• Keep thinking about this place as you breathe deeply in through your
nose and then out through your mouth.
• If it helps, think of a positive thought, such as “I am at peace,” or
“I am safe.”
• Keep breathing, focusing either on the safe place or the thought. Do
this for about 20 minutes (as long as it takes to boil rice).
• If you start to feel uncomfortable or frightened at any time during
this relaxation exercise, open your eyes and breathe deeply.
Practice these exercises whenever you feel nervous or tense or afraid.
Trauma can shatter a person to the utmost level, especially a person with disability. Women with disabilities who are going through trauma need more care than others. Physical (sexual abuse, hitting, hurting, taking care of her in an improper way, etc.) or mental abuses from family members or near ones may lead a women to trauma. Trauma can also be caused by disability happened to the one, who was physically able, in the midway of life through any accidents, wars or any illness. A women with disability who underwent
trauma may feel insecure, unsafe, helplessness and fear to trust anybody. They may also feel that they deserve not to be treated well.
Those who undergo such trauma may think about such events again and again, and also they may dream about those things during their sleep. They may also feel numb or emotions less than before. They may avoid people or places which remind them of the trauma. They will be more watchful than earlier. They seem to be over reacting and angry than usual. They also separate and distance themselves from other people. They may have frequent out bursts or violent behaviour out of the confusion they have about their self.
I feel all these craps and I wish I could come out of this trauma. How can I?
First of all believe that you are not responsible for your present condition. You are the same person as before.
Slowly try to learn to trust others again.
• You can talk about your life before the trauma as well as your current experiences to somebody whom you feel most comfortable.
• Try to express painful things that are too difficult to talk about or that are ‘buried’ through drawing or painting, or a healing activity like massage, can help you express or relieve these painful feelings.
• Understand your reactions. Once you understand your reactions, the feelings usually have less control over you.
• Make a plan for those reminders that you cannot avoid. If reminders of the trauma make you react in fearful ways, it will help to make a plan for those reminders that cannot be avoided. For example, you might tell yourself: “His face is like the face of the man who attacked me, but he is a different person and does not wish to hurt me.”
• Remember that you are not responsible for what you said or did if you were raped or hurt in any way.
Serious mental illness (psychosis)
Women with disabilities are at risk for mental illness if they have:
•had mental health problems in the past.
•lost family members or are separated from their families.
•witnessed violence or have violent partners.
•little social support.
A woman with a disability may be mentally ill if she has any of these signs:
• She hears voices or sees things that others do not hear or see (hallucinations).
• She has strange beliefs that interfere with daily life (delusions)—for example,
she thinks her neighbors are trying to kill her.
• She no longer cares for herself. eg, she does not get dressed, clean herself, or eat.
• She behaves in a strange way, like saying things that make no sense.
This can also be caused by some diseases, poisoning, medicines, drug abuse, or damage to the brain. Curing this mental illness one can seek help from mental health workers or even from traditional healers since they often play important role in treating mental illness.
Families and communities can contribute a lot for the mental welfare of women with disabilities.
Recognize disabled women and girls as fully contributing members.
Show by example that they value and accept girls as much as boys, and disabled girls and women as equally as others.
Support girls with disabilities during the teenage years when they change from girls to women. They need the same knowledge and treatment as other girls in their community. It is important they be encouraged to dress according to their age and recognize their sexuality as young women.
• Support girls and women with disabilities who have mental health problems.
Families, teachers, health workers and others can all help by focusing on what
you can do rather than what you cannot do, such as:
• Believe you can live a happy and fulfilling life, and contribute to your
• Encourage you to try new things and do things for yourself, instead of over-
protecting and doing everything for you.
• Make sure you help at home and contribute to the family business.
How can they do things with the wheel chair?
She says she wants to do a start up. How can she run a business??
Look how she walks.. Why Can't she take help from somebody?
They are women so how can they?
I love her, but I don't want to marry her.
What they are going to do with education and job?
Its high time to change the attitude of community. Women with disability have their own desires. Consider them as any other member in the family. They have the right to education, job, health etc. Communities should consider women with disability as individuals and accept that they are capable of doing things by themselves. This change of attitude and inclusion may bring a lot of change in women with disabilities' mental health.
Health is a state of mind and body. To pursue good health (both physical and mental) you should take care of your body. Love your body.. examine it.. care it.
How can we take care of our body?