As posted in Part 1 of challenges injured workers face, there are many similar challenges the (fairly) newly seriously injured or disabled worker must face regardless of the nature of their specific disability. One of the common issues faced by newly seriously injured and/or disabled workers is boredom, another one is relationship issues with others.
Challenges injured workers face – Part 2: relationships with others
Now that you are (seriously) injured and/or disabled you the injured/ill worker- will have to face the fact that you will inevitably become more isolated from those you used to associated with regularly, such as your coworkers, and even some of your friends.
Most of your friends are or continue working all day and are busy with their own personal or family errands and activities in the evening as well as at weekends. Whilst you have more (read: too much) free time doesn’t mean that your friends (and past coworkers etc) do.
Sadly, for many people once you do not have a useful purpose for their lives, you may no longer be wanted as a friend! By the way, this is also a (difficult) time when you learn who your real friends are. You may realise, now that you are disabled, that you have far fewer than you imagine!
The effects of your serious injury/illness and/or disability on your family can also be severe. Quite a few seriously injured/ disabled people will end up divorced from their spouses. When the other, disabled spouse no longer is contributing to the household, the healthy spouse often becomes quite resentful and will, sadly, often chose to leave the relationship, even though the wedding vow said ‘for better or worse’ and not ‘for better and better’”… and don’t get us even started about the “in sickness and in health” part of the vows.
Usually our families have our implicit permission to treat us ‘badly’. In other words, you are likely to put up with statements and comments from your family that you would definitely not tolerate from others. Some of the statements and comments your family makes about you and your injury/disability can be quite constructive as your family will bluntly tell you to when you are becoming ‘too needy’. From our own experiences we believe the best you can do is to explain your situation and hope for (some) understanding. However, whatever you do, always try to keep you temper in check because your anger over issues related to your serious injury/illness and/or disability (i.e pain, issues with workcover etc) can easily overflow and be taken out on those who you need and/or love the most.
Also, and learned the hard way, it is important you always try to do as much as you can (around the house, household etc), even if it takes you 1 hour to wash the dishes. Make an effort to participate in family events, even if you really don’t feel like it. Try not to burden others (incl family, spouse, friends) as much as possible. And, importantly, try to keep your sense of humor in life and see it for all of its absurdities.
It ‘s extremely important for you not to let your disability (or injury) take over your entire life. You are a person with a disability, not the other way around!. You still have some ability to contribute in other ways and you must try to find ways to enable yourself to do so.
When you allow yourself to become inactive, you will find out that you become miserable. Your body becomes deconditioned and your mind will become fuzzy, confused, lacking the previous, pre-injury clarity which allowed you to do things so much easier. These may also be accompanied by depression (very profound at times) as you may start to feel sorry for yourself. However, remember that this can only happen with “your permission”. If you keep active in mind and body, you will find that time passes much quicker, that there is still much to do and that you can do, see, and experience.
Whilst it is easier said than done, try very hard not let your serious injury and/or disability stop you from enjoying a full-ish life …. even if it is not the life you wanted!
Somewhat related articles
- Challenges seriously injured workers face – part 1: boredom
- The injured worker’s marriage
- Fighting workcover and with an unsupportive spouse – what to do?
- Injured workers and emotional isolation
- I Lost My Family – injured worker distressing story
[Post dictated by WVC and manually transcribed on WCV’s behalf].