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Having A Disability Can Make You Feel Very Lonely

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  • Having A Disability Can Make You Feel Very Lonely

    As a disabled person, have you ever isolated yourself or felt totally isolated by others? How do you deal with the resulting feelings of loneliness?

    In the article linked below, I share my own very personal experience with disability loneliness.

    Read it here:

    http://www.womens-health.com/disabled-lonely
    Editor’s Note: This forum post is part of our ongoing series The Roots Of Loneliness Project: Unearthing Why We Feel Alone, the first-of-its-kind directory that comprehensively explores the phenomenon of loneliness and 80+ types that we might experience over the course of our lives.

    Click the link to find resources and information on virtually any form of loneliness you may be personally experiencing.
    Last edited by Ashlee T.; 04-20-2020, 08:02 AM.

  • My close friend has a disability and does feel very lonely oftentimes. She is looking for a job, too, and so far no luck. In fact, she thinks the lack of results from job applications is precisely because she's disabled/has a learning disability. I also know a lot of other people with such disabilities. I have found they work very hard and have much pride. They have every right to that job. Just because they're slightly different from your average Joe and Jane does not mean they are stupid or incompetent.

    I write this all because that can be part of the reason for feeling lonely/pushed away by others. If someone with a disability has that support - both emotionally and physically - they wouldn't feel so lonely anymore. That is what I think, at least.

    Back to my friend: she feels lonely every day. It has only really been me that has stuck around to help and offer support. Her social worker is useless. Social workers are meant to help the person and help them deal with issues such as loneliness and searching for a job: or at least give moral support. Her social worker has done nothing of the kind. Utterly useless.

    I am sure many people will relate to what my friend goes through.

    Comment


    • I think it's great that you're so thoughtful about your friend's feelings regarding loneliness and her disability. I'm sorry that she's so often lonely; I definitely agree and think a lot of disabled people are lonely quite often. I'm glad that she has your support! Having friends who are willing to listen makes a huge difference.

      Originally posted by Popcorn&Candy View Post
      My close friend has a disability and does feel very lonely oftentimes. She is looking for a job, too, and so far no luck. In fact, she thinks the lack of results from job applications is precisely because she's disabled/has a learning disability. I also know a lot of other people with such disabilities. I have found they work very hard and have much pride. They have every right to that job. Just because they're slightly different from your average Joe and Jane does not mean they are stupid or incompetent.

      I write this all because that can be part of the reason for feeling lonely/pushed away by others. If someone with a disability has that support - both emotionally and physically - they wouldn't feel so lonely anymore. That is what I think, at least.

      Back to my friend: she feels lonely every day. It has only really been me that has stuck around to help and offer support. Her social worker is useless. Social workers are meant to help the person and help them deal with issues such as loneliness and searching for a job: or at least give moral support. Her social worker has done nothing of the kind. Utterly useless.

      I am sure many people will relate to what my friend goes through.

      Comment


      • I think it is already hard as an adult to make friends! But if chronic pain or disability make it impossible to have a typical 9-5 job and/or become a parent, then it becomes even more challenging. You have less in common with most people your age and can withdraw from socializing simply because you feel like you don’t fit in. I think it may be easier in large cities where there isn’t a “typical” path or lifestyle after college, but if you live in suburbia where everything seemingly revolves around children, and you don’t have any, it can be challenging.

        Comment


        • CADogMom - I think you are so right on! Disability loneliness comes in all shapes, sizes, and types. The loneliness for a disabled person who may be married or in a committed relationship is going to be different than the loneliness for a disabled person who is single and/or without children. I think that makes perfect sense because the same is true, though on a totally different level, for the loneliness experienced by single vs married, kids vs no kids people who are not disabled.

          I know when my friend moved to California, although she was not disabled, she found it very difficult as a single woman with no kids to make GOOD friends. Most of the people who shared a similar situation to her were spending their free time in bars and clubs. And while it's possible to make good friends in that environment, I do think it's less likely. I can only imagine that as a disabled person, that must be all the more difficult.

          "Be what you're looking for."

          Comment


          • I totally agree! It's definitely tricky enough as it is to make friends as an adult. For me, it's been difficult at times to relate to other people my age because I'm not able to do all the things they do. I do think there are benefits to living in cities for people with chronic pain/disabilities; access to public transportation, different groups of people living in one area, etc., can make it easier to interact with others.

            Thanks for sharing your perspective!

            Originally posted by CADogMom View Post
            I think it is already hard as an adult to make friends! But if chronic pain or disability make it impossible to have a typical 9-5 job and/or become a parent, then it becomes even more challenging. You have less in common with most people your age and can withdraw from socializing simply because you feel like you don’t fit in. I think it may be easier in large cities where there isn’t a “typical” path or lifestyle after college, but if you live in suburbia where everything seemingly revolves around children, and you don’t have any, it can be challenging.

            Comment


            • Originally posted by Emily D. View Post
              I do think there are benefits to living in cities for people with chronic pain/disabilities; access to public transportation, different groups of people living in one area, etc., can make it easier to interact with others.

              Thanks for sharing your perspective!


              THIS! It's like a double-edged sword. Disabled people who live in the area that I do must be fully dependent on others as there is no public transportation if you're not living right in the heart of the city and even then it is minimal. So, while there might be closer-knit communities here in some regard, there are definitely big disadvantages.

              I also think that bigger cities are more likely to offer things like grocery delivery which can be very helpful. And safe social meetups where you can find groups of people who share your interests and get together safely.

              "Be what you're looking for."

              Comment


              • I definitely would like to live in a city (or, at least in an area that isn't as suburban!) in the future for some of these reasons. Public transportation, in particular, is a HUGE benefit! Also, the social element can be really great, too!

                Originally posted by Ashlee T. View Post

                THIS! It's like a double-edged sword. Disabled people who live in the area that I do must be fully dependent on others as there is no public transportation if you're not living right in the heart of the city and even then it is minimal. So, while there might be closer-knit communities here in some regard, there are definitely big disadvantages.

                I also think that bigger cities are more likely to offer things like grocery delivery which can be very helpful. And safe social meetups where you can find groups of people who share your interests and get together safely.

                Comment


                • I appreciate your article, and identify with it in an eerie way. I was diagnosed as autoimmune 5 years ago, and my doctor told me that, as bad as I was, she'd expect me to be on disability and possibly bedridden within 2 years, and to begin preparing for that.
                  Thankfully, that was not my fate. The diagnosis & subsequent events changed my life though. I took those words very seriously, and internalized all the potential paths my life could take. Through diet & lifestyle changes, I was able to get control of the worst of it. I deal with it daily, but I'm able to function pretty normally, most days.

                  While I was the sickest, I got a glimpse of the isolation that living with a chronic disease could bring. And I have pretty **** good friends that were genuinely (in hindsight) trying to reach out to me. I didn't appreciate it at the time however.

                  It was important for me to recognize that, as hard as it was for me, it wasn't easy for my closest peeps either. For about 6 months, I did nothing but work really. I'd try to do dinner with my bestie, and face the interrogation that just made me wanna avoid her further. After I reached a certain point, and a friend confided in me just how confusing and difficult it was for him to watch me fade away, I started to understand that my friends actually did care, just didn't know what to do.

                  The difficulty making friends hasn't affected me-I'm older and just not in that phase of life. I do have difficulty in dating situations however. Having these issues is limiting, and I think I'm perceived as dull, and unadventurous.

                  Doing what is best for ourselves is often not representative of who we are, or who we want to be. It causes us to make decisions that we'd prefer not to make. I love the outdoors, hiking, etc. Most days, I'm good to go. Other days, the body won't cooperate and I simply can't go at all, or, I have to limit activity. This can be perceived as weak, wimpy and all sorts of other adjectives that ignorant people choose to use. It's perceived as an excuse, as an easy way out of what we don't really want to do anyway. When in reality, it's quite the opposite.

                  I've learned over time that, sharing too much information is counter-productive. I keep things to a minimum with most people. I don't let them in on my "secrets" until I know them quite well. My personal challenges are on a need-to-know basis. Keeping strong boundaries has, I think, built some respect and stronger bonds with those that I do allow into that private area of my life.

                  So, in that way, I feel like it's actually helped me keep friendships alive, and build a healthy romantic relationship. I think that over-sharing sometimes bites us back, and drives people away. We try to give people some insight on what our daily lives are like, and share our experience in life to help them know us better and understand us. It backfired every time for me. It's simply too overwhelming for them, I think.

                  Anyway, I am sorry that you're struggling, and at an age that you're trying to build those relationships. I am in 3 support groups, and the women especially struggle with this. The men seem less affected, or less willing to share this part of their struggle with chronic disease.

                  It will improve over time. Either genuinely, or you'll find ways to manage the isolation, loneliness, and all the difficulty that accompanies it. Stay strong! Many hugs!

                  Comment


                  • Thank you so much for sharing your experiences! I'm sorry that you know what loneliness related to chronic illness/disability feels like, but I'm glad that we aren't alone.

                    I've definitely had to learn my body's limitations and a big part of that for me has been deciding when I can push it and when I can't. I've also had to make the decision of how much to tell new people in my life about my disability. It can definitely be tricky, and I don't want to overwhelm people. I do use a cane, though, so my disability is apparent.

                    I'm definitely better about not isolating myself as much now, too; like you, I also used to hide away from everyone. Now, I make an effort to reach out to others, too, and I'm really thankful I had, and continue to have, such caring friends.

                    Best wishes!

                    Originally posted by atskitty2 View Post
                    I appreciate your article, and identify with it in an eerie way. I was diagnosed as autoimmune 5 years ago, and my doctor told me that, as bad as I was, she'd expect me to be on disability and possibly bedridden within 2 years, and to begin preparing for that.
                    Thankfully, that was not my fate. The diagnosis & subsequent events changed my life though. I took those words very seriously, and internalized all the potential paths my life could take. Through diet & lifestyle changes, I was able to get control of the worst of it. I deal with it daily, but I'm able to function pretty normally, most days.

                    While I was the sickest, I got a glimpse of the isolation that living with a chronic disease could bring. And I have pretty ******** good friends that were genuinely (in hindsight) trying to reach out to me. I didn't appreciate it at the time however.

                    It was important for me to recognize that, as hard as it was for me, it wasn't easy for my closest peeps either. For about 6 months, I did nothing but work really. I'd try to do dinner with my bestie, and face the interrogation that just made me wanna avoid her further. After I reached a certain point, and a friend confided in me just how confusing and difficult it was for him to watch me fade away, I started to understand that my friends actually did care, just didn't know what to do.

                    The difficulty making friends hasn't affected me-I'm older and just not in that phase of life. I do have difficulty in dating situations however. Having these issues is limiting, and I think I'm perceived as dull, and unadventurous.

                    Doing what is best for ourselves is often not representative of who we are, or who we want to be. It causes us to make decisions that we'd prefer not to make. I love the outdoors, hiking, etc. Most days, I'm good to go. Other days, the body won't cooperate and I simply can't go at all, or, I have to limit activity. This can be perceived as weak, wimpy and all sorts of other adjectives that ignorant people choose to use. It's perceived as an excuse, as an easy way out of what we don't really want to do anyway. When in reality, it's quite the opposite.

                    I've learned over time that, sharing too much information is counter-productive. I keep things to a minimum with most people. I don't let them in on my "secrets" until I know them quite well. My personal challenges are on a need-to-know basis. Keeping strong boundaries has, I think, built some respect and stronger bonds with those that I do allow into that private area of my life.

                    So, in that way, I feel like it's actually helped me keep friendships alive, and build a healthy romantic relationship. I think that over-sharing sometimes bites us back, and drives people away. We try to give people some insight on what our daily lives are like, and share our experience in life to help them know us better and understand us. It backfired every time for me. It's simply too overwhelming for them, I think.

                    Anyway, I am sorry that you're struggling, and at an age that you're trying to build those relationships. I am in 3 support groups, and the women especially struggle with this. The men seem less affected, or less willing to share this part of their struggle with chronic disease.

                    It will improve over time. Either genuinely, or you'll find ways to manage the isolation, loneliness, and all the difficulty that accompanies it. Stay strong! Many hugs!

                    Comment


                    • with fibromyalgia, it's not a disease only a condition
                      since I look fine, no one seems to believe if you say you don't feel well
                      got the "we all have aches & pain" response
                      so it feels isolating that no one understands or can relate

                      other that that, I'm an introvert and can hibernate for days
                      when husband & child flew to grandparents for days, it was vacation time for me! peace and quiet, lol

                      Comment


                      • I don't have Fibromyalgia myself, amy40, but I can hibernate for days myself. I am not entirely an introvert, but am able to spend time alone for days.

                        Anyhow, it is interesting reading others health conditions. It is so easy to look at someone and think "They're fine: why are they saying they're ill?" but the viewer cannot see the pain. Being ill is not always obvious. Chronic illness does exist and the person is not making it up.

                        An informative thread.

                        Comment


                        • Ha, I'm also an introvert, Amy, so I get it! I have to make sure I relax and spend time alone, but also don't want to isolate myself too much.

                          Having an invisible illness is tough! It's sometimes hard for people to understand that you can look fine and be in pain or be fatigued. I hope you're surrounded by loving people who understand as best they can, and that you enjoy some good peace and quiet when you can get it!

                          Originally posted by amy40 View Post
                          with fibromyalgia, it's not a disease only a condition
                          since I look fine, no one seems to believe if you say you don't feel well
                          got the "we all have aches & pain" response
                          so it feels isolating that no one understands or can relate

                          other that that, I'm an introvert and can hibernate for days
                          when husband & child flew to grandparents for days, it was vacation time for me! peace and quiet, lol

                          Comment


                          • I can definitely spend time alone for a few days, too! It's nice every so often.

                            I'm glad you find the thread informative; I really appreciate hearing everyone's experiences!

                            Originally posted by Popcorn&Candy View Post
                            I don't have Fibromyalgia myself, amy40, but I can hibernate for days myself. I am not entirely an introvert, but am able to spend time alone for days.

                            Anyhow, it is interesting reading others health conditions. It is so easy to look at someone and think "They're fine: why are they saying they're ill?" but the viewer cannot see the pain. Being ill is not always obvious. Chronic illness does exist and the person is not making it up.

                            An informative thread.

                            Comment


                            • It's a great thread Emily D. So many people can relate to these issues. Plus, putting views and experiences out there is liberating.

                              No one is alone with their disability or problems.

                              Comment

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