The loss of a limb causes a psychological toll on the amputee, something that is often overlooked by those on the outside.
The experience is something so uniquely powerful that it can completely consume one’s mind.
The best way to describe it is as an overwhelming mixture of regret, despair and despondency.
You might be wondering how one could regret losing a limb – put simply, you end up sitting for days on end thinking about all the things that you didn’t do whilst you were able-bodied. The despair comes when you realise that there is no way you can return to the way that you once were and the despondency sets in when you understand that there’s nothing that you can do about it.
The only way that I could move forward was by forging on with my own life. Here are some of the things that you can try doing if you’ve found yourself in a similar mental situation:
Seeking out new experiences
There’s nothing quite like a new experience to widen your horizons and improve your self-esteem.
I’ve met so many people who have seen their amputation as the end of their personal development. They feel like they’ll be forever limited as to what they can do. To a certain extent they’re right, but in today’s day and age there are a million other things that you could learn, read, play, watch and do.
Wheel-chair basketball turned out to be a great way for me to meet other people in a similar situation, making me feel less alone with my condition.
It can be too easy to slip into a bad mood. Sometimes there’s simply no avoiding it. Perhaps you’ve stubbed your toe, or maybe you’ve just completely failed at something that you could have easily done before your own accident or condition had developed.
Life is full of ups and downs, regardless of your condition. Everyone has good days and bad days – the trick is to be aware of when you’re slipping into a dark mood.
Recognise that the thoughts you are having are negative and that repeating them will only worsen your state of mind.
Socialising and going out
Going out was not on the agenda for me for the first three months of my life as a disabled person. I felt like I stuck out, like I was drawing attention simply by existing and, worst of all, I was pitied by every single person that I met.
People’s apologetic looks and sympathetic gazes were perhaps harder to deal with than simply being ignored. Put simply, I had to come to terms with the fact that I couldn’t change the way people thought about me – in that respect, nothing had changed.
Forcing myself out repeatedly was the only way I could come to terms with this.
Planning for the future
I found it all too easy to slip into a state of despondency after my accident. I saw no reason to plan for the years ahead, even looking ahead by a week seemed futile. However, after bringing myself out of my reverie by making my wife dinner of all things, I understood the power and confidence that can be gained by making a plan, executing it and completing it.
The key to my return to sound mental well being was repeating this system, so that I was constantly in one of these stages with short, mid and long-term goals.