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  • Writer's pictureEmma Vogelmann

My Top 3 Tips for Managing Mental Health as a Disabled Person

This week (May 9-15) is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK. The theme of this year’s

Awareness Week is loneliness – something I know so many disabled people can identify with

after 2 years of the pandemic.

It is so important for everyone to talk about their mental health and treat it with the same

care that we do our physical health. That may seem a little odd coming from someone with a

physical disability, but I absolutely believe it. Disabled people often become experts on our

physical conditions and know exactly how to treat it and when to get medical professionals

involved (and often tell them what to do!).

After so many interesting conversations with disabled people on The Wheelchair Activist

podcast and from my own lived experience, I know that physical disability often leads to

internalised ableism, anxiety, low confidence and so much more which impacts our mental

health. So how do we manage all this while dealing with everything else??

I want to share my Top 3 Tips on how I manage my mental health with the hope that at least

1 of these helps someone reading this. Please note I am by no means an expert or a mental

health professional. This is only my personal experience. Please reach out to a medical

professional if you need support.

1. Therapy

I have been in and out of talk therapy since I contracted the Swine flu in 2009 and it is one

of the best things I have ever done for myself. I see a therapist virtually once a week which I

self-fund. I’ve seen different therapists over the years but during the pandemic I wanted to

try working with a therapist with lived experience of disability. I’ve loved working

with her and not having to explain the little things about disability - she even calls me out on my internalised ableism. I honestly cannot recommend therapy enough! It has helped me so much and taught me so much about myself. If you have any questions on my experience of therapy, please feel free to contact me.

2. Reach out to people in the disabled community

This is a slightly odd tip for me to include as for years I didn’t want anything to do with the

disabled community. I didn’t have disabled friends and to be honest, I didn’t want any. Once

I started identifying as a disabled person this changed. I saw a blog post by Carrie Aimes

back in 2017 that I wanted to ask her about and our friendship took off from there. We now

text almost every day. It is so nice to not have to explain yourself and have people to talk to

who really understand what you’re going through. I highly recommend reaching out to

disabled people who may have similar lived experiences to you or who seem nice – most of

us are as Nina Tame said on my podcast! I’d also suggest listening to my podcast to hear

from amazing disabled people (nothing wrong with some shameless self-promotion, right?).

3. Find your escapism

I certainly find it hard to switch off and not think about work, carer’s schedules, scheduling

medical appointments or so many other things. One way I disconnect from everything is to play The Sims 4. I completely ignore the world around me and only think about making my

Sim the ultimate interior designer (they also have at least 2 dogs at all times). I realise this

may sound silly after the last 2 tips, but this is how I get a little break from reality and that is

so important. Whether that comes from funny YouTube videos, an audiobook or listening to

music, do something that lets you temporarily forget your to-do list.

As I said, these tips are based on what works for me and I am not a professional. I am just

one disabled person trying my best to cope with the many obstacles life throws at me.

Please look after yourself this Mental Health Awareness week and please seek advice from a

medical professional if necessary.

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