It is Easier to Act Your Way into Feeling…

Things will get better…

Our pastor at Weem’s Creek has been going through the story of Elijah. Interesting guy, this old testament prophet, Elijah. Through him, God shut off the rain for a long period of time. He put the false prophets of Baal to shame by having his own sacrifice (soaked in water) eaten up by fire called down from Heaven. But… Elijah could be a whiner.

Not only could the man whine, but he could exaggerate as well. After a particularly spectacular display of God’s might – working through Elijah – he claimed to be all alone and the last of his kind (a prophet). Neither were true. Elijah became depressed. God decided to force him into action, and it eventually changed his outlook.

Pastor Orr used a quote, “It is easier to act your way into a feeling, than to feel your way into an action”. I looked all over the Internet for who actually said that. Although I found plenty of examples of people USING the quote, I was unable to actually find who said it “first”.

This quote really hit home for me. I was contacted this last week by a man who follows my blog. I asked his permission to share part of that email.

“I can know that I need to change my attitude about my disability, but knowing and doing are two different things. How do you get to where you know your life is not over after acquiring a disability when you are stuck on thinking your life is over?”

I’ve been very open about my own struggles with depression. Would I have struggled with depression had I not begun to lose my hearing at the age of 25-years-old? Very possibly. But I do know know that there is a correlation between depression and disability. Research has shown that the degree of depression in people with disabilities is directly connected to their own personal acceptance of their disability (Townend, Tinson, Kwan, Sharpe, 2010). You need to accept your “new normal”. I DO realize it is easy to say, but there really IS life after disability.

I realize we all struggle with different things. Some chronic illnesses and disabilities impact important life functions such as mobility, independence, and quality of life. Being late-deafened is minor to having Meniere’s disease in my own life. As a matter of fact, my husband noted recently that Chloe does just as many balance-related tasks as she does hearing alerts (if not more) – and she is a certified hearing assistance dog. When we have a major weather system stall out over the top of us (my main vertigo trigger) I can really struggle to even get up the nerve to leave the bed in the morning. And let me tell you… it can require nerves. A recent fall left me black and blue from shoulder to hip, with an anxious husband trying to decide whether or not to call 9-1-1 as I kept losing consciousness. (Life with Denise can be exciting – grin). However, when the sun shines, my balance related symptoms are minor. I’m very aware there are courageous (and inspiring) people who do not get “sunny days”. They do not have a break in the degree of disability that directly influences the quality of their lives. Acceptance for them is different and I acknowledge may be more difficult. Regardless, one does have to accept where they are in terms of a “new normal”.

Did you know that acceptance of your “new normal” can not only influence depression, but being depressed can actually worsen your disability? I have personal experience with worsening hearing, balance and vertigo when I happen to also be in a downward spiral in depression. Karp, Skidmore, Lotz, Lenze, Dew, and Reynolds (2009), found that symptoms of specific disabilities actually worsen when the individual is also depressed, stressing that depression needs to be taken seriously and treated. I have a number of red flags that I have set up to determine if I am becoming depressed. I know and have experienced the dangers of depression. Having a “blue” day or two is different than depression. Having lived with it, I know what it “looks” like and stay on the look out for specific clues that tell me I need to seek help.

Living with “It”

One really CAN live within a “new normal”. This may mean a acceptance of a  change in your health. Perhaps you are single when you thought it would be “til death do us part”. Death may have indeed parted you from someone you counted on emotionally and physically. So how do you accept where you ARE, and move on to living a victorious life? I truly believe we have to simply take action. Our “feelers” cannot really be trusted. Don’t get me wrong. I believe compassion, mercy, and love are important. But our hearts – our “feeler” – cannot provide a new, healthier way of acceptance.

What kind of actions can we take? Many of us become involved in organizations that provide support for a specific disability we may have. Within these types of organizations, there are numerous ways to get involved. The Internet makes this connection simple. There are a number of community service projects that can use the help of volunteers. Even small communities have opportunities for service. Some people with disabilities prefer to be involved in areas of service that are not directly related to their disability. If you want to take action and get involved in helping others – LOOK. The opportunities are there. Giving back to others is a primary way in which people feel valued and useful. Getting active in giving back to our communities may actually change the way you FEEL about your own disability. We need a purpose.

Leo Rosten

“I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be honorable, to be compassionate. It is, after all, to matter: to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all.” —Leo C. Rosten

Denise Portis

©2012 Personal Hearing Loss Journal

Karp, J., Skidmore, E., Lotz, M., Lenze, E., Dew, M., & Reynolds, C. (2009). Use of the Late-Life Function and Disability Instrument to assess disability in major depression. Journal Of The American Geriatrics Society, 57(9), 1612-1619. doi:10.1111/j.1532-5415.2009.02398.x

Townend, E., Tinson, D., Kwan, J., & Sharpe, M. (2010). ‘Feeling sad and useless’: an investigation into personal acceptance of disability and its association with depression following stroke. Clinical Rehabilitation, 24(6), 555-564.



4 thoughts on “It is Easier to Act Your Way into Feeling…

  1. Denise I cannot think of a better time than this for this blog and your God given wisdom to come into my life. When I think of disabilities I realize they can all be different. I think my road to disablilites began 21 years ago when my husband became severly disabled with a severe tramatic brain injury. It was the beginning of the loss of the man I knew as my husbsand and I would find myself now becoming the mother While we had many struggles we seemed to come out on top of them in many ways. My position never changed but how I handled it would make the difference. Getting involved in differenent avenues of brain injury kept me busy.
    Learning new coping skills did make a difference. But as you know life keeps changing on us and the road we chose becomes so different at given times.

    Act 11 14 years later my mom would be strickened with Alzhiemers and her care would be turned over to me. So now here I am the mom of two children. Did I feel bad about it. Yes at many times I did. But I wanted to take care of them the best I knew how and I did. Maybe not the best. But the best I knew how.

    Act 111 4 years into my mom and husbands conditions I became very ill. Left in the bed to get well on my own as they didn’t have the cognitive ability to think other than let her rest. I almost rested myself into eternity as I slipped into a coma before my son found me. Not I really had a new act to follow upon coming out of the coma I found myself suddenly deafened being told I would never hear again.

    Can you just picture this my husband, mom, and I deafened taking care of my children. Did I want to give up. Sometimes yes! It seemed as though there was no future for us why couldn’t God just take us home. I realize now that God was not finished with us. Well at least my husband and I. Mom has gone home. So now there was just my little boy to take care of. This became so stressful at times that I actually think it was making me ill.

    Act 4 a couple months ago my husband was hit with a major heart defect and rushed into hospital. It was at this point that I had to make some decisions that I thought I would never have to face. He was before leaving home falling constantly at home at nights hurting himself head gashes and so on. When they said it was time and I could bring him home I panicked. How could I do this I really became scared just knowing that I could no longer handle this situation it was killing both of us and it was going to kill him. I began to have such a fear of opening my bedroom door and finding him gone. So decision made he would not be coming home again.

    So devastating how was I going to go on with life? For 21 years I had been the caregiver, putting caring for myself aside. Now I was going to have to learn to take care of Sharon. Such a scary time. Your message of finding a reason to go on and getting involved is where I am at not. So your message offers me hope in what I thought a hopless situation losing another part of my husband.
    I am finding with my faith and crying out for mercy from God that mercy can come in all different forms. This time I could see mercy as a picture as God showed me with Ben’s leaving the home, that I would now have a life which would teach me how to become involved and help reach out to other’s in many of my situations. And trust me there have been many. So my hearing journey will be deepened as I get more involved in reaching out to make a difference in life’s of those going thru the journey I am walking thru. Your faith and courage has taught me much. Starting with loving myself again so I could press forward and love others as this will be my calling. Didn’t mean to go on so much hear but you really touched a heartstring. Never give up on a challenge it is just a new learning Journey God has us on. In this we will all grow, won’t we. We can give the glory to God and and people like yourselves that have helped encourage us all along the way. Thank you Denise for this one. Sincerely Sharon Crouch

  2. I could not agree more. Accepting your new normal, and finding things you can do to make you feel more productive, more independent in some way…that makes all the difference.
    I tell people, no, this may not be the life I expected, so I’m changing my expectations!

    I too have Meniere’s have lost all the hearing in my left ear, and almost all in the right….I’m up for a CI within a month or so, waiting on insurance approval.

    thank you for this post.

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