Hello there. My surname is Joseph Barrett. I, like numerous of my readers, have a disability. I was hurt in an auto accident in 1992 and damaged mine spinal cord. Ns have been in a chair ever since. An ext about me later.

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Fly away

Let me tell girlfriend a story about the birds and the bees. Well, actually, it’s really just around the birds. For as long as I can remember, i was never ever all that keen on owning a pets bird. This disenchantment probably began when my mom obtained coerced right into adopting someone else’s lover feathered friend.

I’m just going to placed this the end there–that bird needed to die … a lot! Seriously, how could such a little animal consistently make such outrageously according to sounds while i was trying come oversleep?

Every now and then this bird would control to escape its cage and fly all around the house. Inevitably, it would make its means over to the curtains by the sliding-glass door—seemingly waiting for the opportunity to fly off and also be complimentary forevermore.

However, this bird never ever wanted to paris off and also soar to good heights. In fact, it would always return to its cage—the very same 2×2 confined an are that inhibited its capacity to fly great distances and also explore exotic habitats when being fully independent in finding food and also a adjustment partner(s).

All of this wondrous capability was lost due to the fact that people firmly insist on domesticating birds. If a bird is flower in bondage or caged after being captured, the tendency is most likely for it come explore and also fly off whenever possible. After all, that is their nature to be free. Over time, a caged bird starts to exhibit a typical pattern that resistance, i m sorry is subsequently complied with by acceptance. Some folks refer to this phenomenon together ‘learned helplessness.’ The bird has actually learned come love the cage.

You knew whereby I was going through this, didn’t you? Learned helplessness and also acceptance of a life that is unfulfilled is discovered all too regularly in ours society: individuals who select to remain in poor relationships; those who room unhappy in your job; and also folks that give-up due to the fact that of a special needs are just a few examples. To it is in fair, starting all end again can be tough, and that is why people cling come an otherwise miserable situation.

Consider the life of one individual v a disability. Having actually a disability and also being limited in part area that life is one thing, however being able to do more and no trying is a tragedy. For that human being who is paralyzed, you begin to wonder whether she or he is an ext immobilized by their disability or your fear. I’m no trying come sound prefer Tony Robbins, however it takes courage come step external of your comfort zone. Actual courage is found when one plot in the confront of uncertainty.It is found when one allows go of their glory days and old identity. Of course, this doesn’t median that you need to forget great times and old storage hanging v your pals, but you gain the point—people must move on. Nobody cares that you were. Besides, do you really think that you were the ideal that you could be in your teens or twenties? It’s kind of pathetic to feel this way, yet it’s something the plagued me because that a long time.

Just about to revolve 17

I to be a very muscular and also athletic kid—I play sports and also was in ~ the gym all the time. Though ns was always in gifted and also talented classes, I chose to emphasis on ephemeral traits, such together athleticism. The enduring characteristics of a healthy and balanced intellect and also an eagerness to learn were neglected. After coming to be disabled, those room the traits the I required to focus on an ext than ever.

In the rehabilitation field, human being love to conceptualize adjusting to a impairment as a stage process. Below is a simple overview of this stages, i m sorry will include a little of detail about my experience. Save in mind that everyone’s mediate is distinct and certain to the person.

Stages the Adjustment

Shock: in the shock phase, the “individual’s thinking is often disorganized, and also he or she might be feeling overwhelmed and confused” (Smart, 2009, p. 392). I was a an elderly in high school when I to be injured. I had Navy and also Marine recruiters make the efforts to threaten each rather recruiting efforts so that i would authorize with them. I chose the Navy.

Being lectured through my mom at Shock Trauma

In the blink of an eye, all that changed. I was flown to the college of Maryland Shock Trauma on may 1st, 1992 and also discharged come A.I. DuPont 11 days later on to begin a 6 month long rehabilitation regimen. Ns was broken and overwhelmed.


Defensive Retreat: in this stage, the individual frequently employs short-lived adaptive strategies, such together denial. For example, he or she might deny: the “presence, implications, and permanence that the disability” (p. 393). Denial deserve to be practical in the initial stages of one’s special needs as it stays clear of “emotional flooding” (p. 394). However, over the long term, denial can be counterproductive and inhibit adaptive change and acceptance (p. 396). Refusal quickly ended up being my finest friend. I was going to beat the odds and walk again.

All of these terms and also routines the doctors, nurses, and therapists to be lobbing in ~ me to be irrelevant. Ns regained the usage of my arms—the legs were next!

Depression or Mourning: in this stage, the separation, personal, instance “often withdraws from others and also has problem sleeping, eating, and also concentrating” as he or she “struggles with concerns of an uncertain future and also an uncertain identity” (pp. 396-397). Late right into my rehabilitation, the profit slowed. It was becoming apparent that the foot weren’t comes back. Ns slipped right into a deep depression and also refused to eat. I shed 30-40 pounds and wanted come sleep all day.

Personal Questioning: usual in this phase is questioning about why the special needs was allowed to happen and also what could have to be done to prevent it (pp. 400-401). “Why me?” i must have asked that question a million times. This was supposed to take place to other people, no me. I was elevated Catholic and also had Jesus top top speed-dial: “Hey God, acquire me the end of this chair and I’ll do a entirety bunch of an excellent stuff.” it didn’t happen.

Adaptation, Change, and also Integration: at this point in the convey process, the individual “understands and accepts the reality and implications of the disability, establishes new values and goals …, and also explores and also uses his or her strengths and abilities” (pp. 402-403). As much as i would favor to say that these occasions happened in fast succession, they didn’t. In the indigenous of Axl Rose, “Welcome come the Jungle.” This is the dark side of the special needs experience—long durations of isolation. In mine situation, we’re talking around a an excellent 5 to 6 years. Together in the opening vignette, ns had end up being like a caged bird. Ns didn’t date. Ns didn’t speak to plenty of people. I just went away. I read lots and lots the books. I finally came increase with response to the concern “Why me?” below it is: “Why not me?”

When civilization would asking me what i did because that a living, I obtained so embarrassed—I just didn’t have actually a good answer. Ns saw civilization in chairs control cars and also living their lives. That’s what i wanted, however I couldn’t seem to placed the piece together. I had troubles with my body image and also became for this reason self-conscious that ns couldn’t also look people in the eye.

One day i just had enough. The fighting soul started come come back. Iremembered seeing a guy at Maryland Rehabilitation facility (now the workforce & an innovation Center) with a similar injury drive a van. That suffer was so an effective in providing me the confidence to rebuild my life. I began to let walk of the victim mentality and also started to placed together a plan of action—I come out swinging.

I contacted the department of Rehabilitation solutions for a steering evaluation and eventually began to journey again. Ns enrolled in school and graduated Summa Cum Laude v a BS in Psychology. In addition to working at The image Center, i am now an intern in ~ the division of Rehabilitation services with 1 course left to end up my M.A. In Rehabilitation Counseling.

So, what around you? Is any kind of of this applicable to her situation? Is there any kind of fight left in you?If you struggling with your disability and want more from life, I would certainly welcome the possibility to work with you. Over there is no factor to waste time in isolation emotion helpless. Contact The picture Center—let’s kick open up that cage and also reclaim your life.


Roth, E. (Director). (1995). Forrest Gump : paramount Pictures.

See more: Adm I Don T Want To Be Crazy Paperback, I Don'T Want To Be Crazy Kindle Edition

Smart, J. (2009). Disability, society, and also the individual, second Edition. Austin: Pro-Ed.