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6 Disability Coping Strategies That May Help Able-Bodied People During COVID-19

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Editor's Note

Join The Mighty’s Coronavirus group to connect with other Mighties living through the pandemic. Read the latest updates, share helpful tips, or give and receive virtual support.

The world now has a unique opportunity to relate to people with disabilities and chronic conditions — and learn from us.

It’s interesting watching my able-bodied friends navigating these changing times, where a world pandemic has businesses and recreation shut down and stay-at-home orders in place. Everything is suddenly very different — and worse. You can’t do the things you used to do. Keeping up with your family’s needs has become more difficult. You no longer have full access to places and things. You wonder when and if things will ever be the same.

Weird and crappy, right?

This is totally familiar to me. In fact, this is exactly what most people go through at the onset and diagnosis of a chronic mental health and/or physical condition or disability.

Everyday tasks became more difficult if not impossible. We lose our ability to do many things. We struggle to care for our families and pets. We face physical or figurative barriers in public. Outside hope for remission, this is often something that will not ever go back to “normal.”

What have I learned from getting chronic conditions that I am applying to our current pandemic shutdown and social distancing situation?

  1. I stopped comparing today to last year when deciding whether or not it’s a “good day.” I rate each day in the perspective of our current circumstances. With this mindset shift, I’m having good days again!
  2. I worked through a grieving process. When the grief creeps back in, I allow it and work through it again. It’s my pandemic, and I’ll cry if I want to.
  3. I’ve replaced things I can no longer do with things I can do, like virtual church instead of in-person church, day trips to state parks instead of an international adventure. I’ve long had the philosophy: “If you can’t do it right, do it wrong.”
  4. I connect with other people going through the same or similar hardships so I don’t feel alone in this.
  5. I am kind to myself, acknowledge my limitations, and don’t get upset when I can’t do what’s not even possible anyway. I remind myself that this is not my fault, and I can only just do my best.
  6. I’ve kept my identity. I will never become a thing I’m going through. I’m still me.

One more note to my abled friends: When this is all over, remember what you’ve experienced, what you’ve felt. Know that many of us never get to come out of our “isolation,” never get our normal back, never get our privileges back. What acts of kindness and empathy have you experienced that you can pay forward?

For more on the coronavirus, check out the following stories from our community:

Getty image by MangoStar Studio.

Originally published: May 13, 2020
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