Anger, Depression, and Disability: Adapting to a New Reality

Woman in a wheelchair looking sadThe uninvited house guest often stays on well beyond the point of “wearing out his or her welcome.” Likewise, for many people, chronic illness/disability is not a short-term inconvenience but rather a long-term, often permanent way of life. In the early stages of adaptation, the changes that happen in our lives and families may seem tolerable—at least while we still think there is a chance that the diagnosis is wrong or the cure is in the magic pipeline offered by big pharma.

Eventually, denial and bargaining give way to anger and depression. The uninvited guest is still ever-present, and no amount of cajoling or suggestions result in change. Bouts of anger may become a way of life for a while.

Many people flow in and out of anger and depression, rather than progressing neatly through one stage and into the next. It is often said that depression is anger turned inward, which makes expression of anger in a safe and effective way very important. Getting adequate support from formal and informal support networks is critical.

It is not unusual for tempers to flare and fuses to shorten during this period of adjustment. People who are typically long-suffering seem to be constantly on edge; those with fewer coping skills may be in a chronic state of agitation and irritability, if not outright rage. It often seems as if they are pushing away those who are closest to them at the time when they need them most.

Loved ones may unconsciously spend less time with the person who seems to find fault in their best efforts. Children are often left confused and afraid. Doctors and other providers frequently find themselves being blamed for their inability to help. This is all part of the process of adaptation.

While most people understand cognitively that their loved one is struggling and coping as well as can be expected, their own feelings of inadequacy and powerlessness may lead them to retreat on some level—if not physically, then emotionally. This often feels like abandonment to the person who is already overwhelmed by disability or illness. It is very important for caregivers and loved ones to be aware of their own feelings and find support.

Coping skills: Separate the person from the behavior. Try to remain aware of the real target for your anger—the illness or disability, not the person in your midst. Remember that we often treat those we love the most with the least respect; make amends as soon as possible if you do so. Give each other a break and extend the benefit of the doubt when possible. If your loved one treats you badly, remember that everyone is under extreme stress and doing the best they can at that moment. It is also good to remember that your caregivers and medical providers are probably not inadequate, but the resources they have to work with may be.

Caregivers and loved ones should speak up if they are being treated badly. Being sick is not an excuse to mistreat people, particularly if there is a pattern of abusive behavior developing. These behaviors need to be identified and discussed in a calm, loving way (not in the heat of the moment). This may require professional help, or perhaps the assistance of a minister or family friend who is not emotionally involved.

Most of the time, the person who lashes out or treats people badly feels guilty and needs the opportunity to make amends. For those who are unaware of how their behavior comes across, specific examples of the unacceptable behavior or hurtful/abusive language helps them develop a better awareness of their inappropriate behavior. In some cases, this is a manifestation of the illness or disability. In others, it may be the result of coping skills that are maxed out. Either way, left unattended, it usually gets worse. This is not the time to let conflicts and hurt feelings stack up. If you need help addressing these issues, ask your medical provider for a referral. Providers often have therapists or chaplains they work with who may be able to help.

Depression often occurs during the adaptation process, and may happen at other times or continue. Clinical depression can be very difficult to manage. It is more than sadness or disappointment; depression is a collection of symptoms that exist most days for two weeks or longer and create some level of impairment in daily functioning. The symptoms may include many of the following:

  • sadness/tearfulness
  • low energy or agitation/irritability
  • loss of interest in things previously enjoyed
  • problems with concentration/foggy thinking or trouble making decisions
  • changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • thoughts of death or suicide/not wanting to live
  • rumination/negative thinking
  • others (physical pain, changes in motor skills, etc.)

If you or someone you know have four or more of these symptoms that are present for more days than not over a two-week period, talk to your medical provider about getting help.

There is also a type of depression called situational depression that is a normal reaction to a loss or change. Almost all people with chronic illness or disabilities and their loved ones experience this. The same symptoms are involved, but the symptoms may not be present most of the time, or may not be severe enough to impair your ability to function (relationships, work, taking care of your kids, etc.).

Situational depression can linger or become more serious after a while, becoming clinical depression. If the symptoms begin to impair functioning or last longer than a few weeks, it is wise to speak with a medical provider or therapist. People with situational depression are often able to experience periods of happiness when receiving good news, or other momentary reprieves from the darkness of depression. Those with clinical depression may be unable to experience even brief moments of relief when the situation calls for it.

The best treatment for depression is believed to be a combination of talk therapy, exercise (I know—it is very hard to exercise when you are depressed), a good diet, and medication, if deemed medically necessary. The right intervention for depression depends on which type of depression you are experiencing. For those with a few symptoms that are not present all the time, self-help may be sufficient. People with four or more symptoms that are present most of the time probably need to see a therapist and possibly a psychiatrist.

Anyone who is suicidal should seek professional help immediately. This national hotline is for people struggling with depression. The crisis line is staffed 24 hours a day by trained volunteers: 1-800-273-TALK.

Coping skills: I recommend that people talk with a therapist when dealing with situational depression and try to get as much activity in as possible. This may mean simply walking outside to get the mail, sitting on the porch for 20 minutes to have a cup of coffee or juice, watering the plants, or walking the dog. Sunshine is another natural remedy that increases vitamin D, which is often deficient in people who are depressed and those who do not go outside often. Eating properly is also critical, and there are natural supplements available at your local health store that may help with situational depression. Talk to your medical provider or therapist about these options.

Support groups and self-help groups can be very helpful. Groups provide a great resource for people living with chronic illness and disabilities and their loved ones. You can find online and local resources, and most are free. Many are affiliated with local hospitals or nonprofit agencies that serve people with chronic illness or disabilities.

If depression is serious enough to impair functioning, or you/your loved one has thoughts of suicide or not wanting to live, it is important to get professional help immediately. Start with your medical provider or therapist unless the person with depression has a plan to cause self-injury or death.

In situations where someone’s safety is at risk, call 911 or the local emergency number for your area, or take the suicidal person to the closest emergency room. Your role in the situation is not to intervene, but to get professionals involved as soon as possible. If the suicidal person is unwilling to go to the ER (or medical provider’s office during business hours) or you believe it may be unsafe to transport them, simply call for the emergency medical providers to come to you.

Don’t worry about the person who is suicidal being upset by your actions—when people are in crisis, they are usually not thinking clearly, so it becomes crucial for you to make good decisions on their behalf. The medical professionals who are trained to help in these situations will make the decisions once they arrive. This will likely mean that the person who is suicidal will be transported to the hospital for an evaluation, and may need to stay there for a few days until stabilized.

Again, it is not up to you to make that decision, only to make sure the person is safe until medical professionals can take over. It is a lot of responsibility and instills fear in most of us, but in the end, when your loved one is thinking rationally again, he or she will likely be grateful. If not, you will know that you have done what you needed to during the crisis.

Ongoing thoughts of suicide or not wanting to live need to be addressed with mental health and/or medical professionals regularly. Some states (Washington, Oregon, and Montana) permit medical professionals to participate in a well-thought-out, documented plan to end life (known as rational suicide), but most do not. Discussion of a patient’s end-of-life wishes should also be considered carefully and documented in a legal document for your specific state. Legal resources such as a living will specifically identify a person’s end-of-life wishes.

It is a good idea to talk about signing a consent form that allows you to discuss your loved one’s mental health (and physical) treatment with medical providers and therapists. This will enable you to enlist their help if depression becomes unmanageable or a crisis occurs. The consent can be relinquished at any time if the patient is considered to be of sound mind, and could be a great resource. Fortunately, resources are available to assist you in being prepared for a suicidal crisis should you need them.

There are many issues to be discussed regarding suicide, including family members’ thoughts and feelings about it. It is important to remember that euthanasia is against the law in all U.S. states, and assisted suicide with the help of a physician who prescribes a lethal cocktail after careful planning and documentation is legal only in Oregon, Washington and Montana. Legal professionals should be consulted if “rational suicide” is something you or a loved one is considering.

Using the analogy of the uninvited house guest, this is the period when people have settled into their routines and learned to live together with whatever adjustments are necessary. The initial period of adjustment after a disability or illness almost always requires going through each of the stages in the process outlined here. It can take a long time for some to arrive at adaptation, and not everyone in a family gets there at the same time. With some luck, a lot of support, good communication, and teamwork, the process will likely resolve in time for most people.

Unfortunately, surviving the initial period of adjustment does not ensure there will not be others. As mentioned earlier, people tend to get emotionally triggered when there are relapses or new symptoms/stages of the illness or disability occur. Triggering means that some reminder of the initial trauma (usually diagnosis or the actual accident or illness) sets off the same cascade of emotions experienced at the time of the original event.

Living in fear of a relapse or a change in physical status creates a certain amount of anxiety for everyone. The unpredictability of living with a chronic illness or disability will be the focus of our next article.

In the meantime, please share below how you have effectively coped with anger and depression.

© Copyright 2012 All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by LuAnn Pierce, LCSW

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • LEXI

    December 10th, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    It must be incredibly difficult to process a change like this.

    I can certainly see where the anger and the depression would stem from, but you have to resolve to not allow this to completely take over your life.

    If you do, then you are wasting away the life that you have been give. Life is about learning and evolving but most of us would have the tendency to get stuck in these grieving stages instead of trying to start over again.

  • Andrew

    May 30th, 2017 at 9:46 PM

    Yes, we move past the grieving, but there are still challenges that create more grief. Focus on making this world accessible rather than telling people that have become disabled what they should feel and think!

  • Jami

    March 15th, 2018 at 2:57 AM

    Youre so right Andrew. Thank you for speaking up!

  • Sharissa

    August 13th, 2018 at 2:28 PM

    Resolve has nothing to do with it. It’s not a willpower issue. Re-read the article. That’s the same thing as blaming the victim for what boils down to chemical processes beyond their control.

  • Jami

    August 13th, 2018 at 3:22 PM


  • Jason

    December 11th, 2012 at 4:13 AM

    I saw the challenges that my own parents faced with such dignity- that’s the way I hope to be if I am ever faced with the same thing.

  • Mateo

    December 11th, 2012 at 7:08 PM

    There is no ‘easy’ way around something as life-changing as a disability or illness.What is important is to see how best you can make do with things that are already in place.Yes you cannot wish away your disability but there is a lot you can do to cope and get over its problems.

    A disability or disorder is as much in the mind as it is in body.And while caregivers and medical professionals are seeing what they can do for the body,I think we should also seek help for what we can do about the mind.A positive outlook by itself can change a lot and there have been so many people who have overcome their disability mentally and are much happier individuals.You disability may have inhibited your body but it cannot inhibit your mind.Growing past it can take time but is something that can certainly be done.

  • Andrew

    May 30th, 2017 at 9:42 PM

    I’m so sick of hearing the “positive outlook” insult! Yes, have a positive outlook, just smile and be cheerful about the added expenses, the inaccessibility of so many places, the challenges of simply crossing a street, navigating into a building, not being able to go where you want when you want because there’s inadequate handicapped parking, or because someone that shouldn’t be using it thought it was okay for “just a few minutes.” And then there are those that assume a physical disability indicates a mental disability as well. I have a professional degree and have to spoken to as if I were a 3 year old by strangers that make the assumption I can’t possibly understand! Perhaps instead of telling the disabled to have a positive outlook more progress would be made by teaching those that preach “have a positive outlook” to treat the disabled with the same consideration and respect they would anyone else!

  • Debi

    July 2nd, 2017 at 10:24 PM

    Great post! I so agree about being treated like you have a mental condition. I am also a professional, and yet that all goes away in an instant. I feel like I am groveling to be accepted as equal. I am more than just a patient with a disability.

  • Joy

    August 13th, 2017 at 8:53 AM

    I am with you all the way! Two years ago I was able bodied. Following an operation on my spine I am now disabled and a Blue Badge holder. That doesn’t help the fact that my whole life has changed. I can’t even walk my dogs. Feel totally inadequate and very, very vulnerable.

  • Jami

    March 15th, 2018 at 3:12 AM

    Amen! Even worse when these attitudes come from family. Thus, possibly leaving you with no one to talk to. Even furthering depression! People like that have no clue. Even if they have dealt with depression themselves… Everyone has a different situation!

  • Bob

    July 4th, 2018 at 11:02 AM

    I have a relative who has had multiple sclerosis (M.S.) for decades, and unfortunately, he is now deeply profoundly disabled. He was once a very active guy who once enjoyed all sorts of exercise, playing sports, hiking, etc., none of which he can do now. He had a pretty bad temper before he got MS, but it has gotten progressively worse over the years, to the point now where any minor thing will set him off and a flood of profanity will pour out of his mouth. Every vile and obscene word you can think of will pour out of his mouth, and this will usually last for 5 to 15 minutes and then subside, and then goes back to acting somewhat normal again. We’re so used to it by now that we don’t take anything he says during these tirades seriously. Personally, I think it is displaced aggression, in that he cannot directly attack the disease itself so he attacks, verbally, those around him. I can’t say that I blame him. I don’t know how I would put up with all that he goes through on a daily basis. I think without him being able to vent away his anger and frustration about his declining health and gathering disability that he would not be able to contain himself. It is interesting to note that he mainly does it around us, his family, and not out in public. One thing I’ve learned to do when he starts attacking me verbally is to say in response to him: “displaced aggression.” Sometimes it helps, most of the time it only makes him angrier, but it makes me feel better about it. It’s my way of letting him know, that yes, I hear you and your words do hurt me even if I don’t take them seriously. But back to the point, no I don’t know how to expect anyone to cope with the fact that their life will never be the same, will never be as good as it was before the disease, and that all he really has to look forward to is more disability, more pain, more humiliation from doctors and hospitals, and eventually to become bedridden and probably die from something like sepsis or pneumonia. That’s not much of a future to look forward to. I wish I knew some way to make him feel better, but I have no idea of what to do at this point.

  • Laine

    September 10th, 2019 at 4:53 AM

    Andrew…Great points! I was born with a mild form of CP. I have never lived like a person with a disability until I was forced to when my body started falling apart on me. I have spent a lifetime being treated with disrespect, disinterest, not being seen, heard or truly valued like the able-bodied around me. I am an avid reader and very knowledgeable on more subjects than those around me and it is rarely acknowledged. I have had my feelings ignored my entire life. The rejection ontop of insane physical and financial adversity is maddening. And, of course, we are the ones told blanket statements about how we should think and behave. Why? Not out of any real concern, but because we are just making those around us uncomfortable. So yes, I am sick of it, too!


    December 11th, 2012 at 11:32 PM

    The major reason people would ‘hate’ this change would be a lack of independence and the stigma towards those with disabilities. Both of these can be overcome with mental toughness. I’m not saying its a stroll in the park but hey even impossible says I’m possible!

  • Andrew

    May 30th, 2017 at 9:52 PM

    Both of these can be overcome with mental toughness? That’s truly delusional. If your legs don’t work mental toughness isn’t going to make them work, and it’s not going to give you independence. The stigma comes from people that are not disabled and think they know just how to deal with it. Sit down with someone that’s disabled and ask them what their challenges are and really listen. Or better yet, get yourself a wheelchair, sit down in it, and don’t use your legs for anything at all for 24 hours. Then you might just begin to understand.

  • JanP

    August 11th, 2017 at 7:26 AM

    Andrew YES!!!!! When I had my back surgery, it crippled me! I can’t walk, or move as I did before it! As I say walk a mile in my shoes, then criticize me!!

  • sophie

    April 7th, 2013 at 12:41 PM

    Ive had a chronic illness that has left me mostly bedbound for 13 years and last few years my physical health has been the worst then a sudden downturn last year. My mental health then also took a downturn. I’m gradually picking up and tried antidepressants, the first made my mood swings worse and made me feel ill. Psychologists were not the way to go for me. I opened up and all I got was assessments then told my case was too complex. Id say one antidepressants and taking a benzodiazepine orig prescribed for severe spasms of unknown cause and then sleep, would help. Coming to terms with the fact anger is acceptable is another step, tho not the way I acted because of it. I have never felt so angry and destructive in my life and still not totally sure why. Exercise and sunshine is not really an option due to severe sunlight sensitivity and exercises generally makes my illness worse, thats y its so hard when it can help depression. I think an understanding Dr could help and communicating your needs. My health is not quite as bad now thankfully and mood has improved as am able to occasionally have friend visit, watch tv etc. Try to give myself credit for things. Depression is like a monster.

  • Joanna

    July 18th, 2015 at 5:43 PM

    Dear Sophie, I’m so sorry to hear of your difficulties. Recently I’ve heard a lot about how improving the health of your digestive system can improve other aspects of your health, including mood, mental health and autoimmune conditions. If you look up Leaky Gut, or Intestinal permeability ( both the same thing,) you might find some helpful information. Dr Josh Axe – see has some great information. Also Dr David Perlmutter is helpful regarding the brain/ gut connection.
    For anyone with MS, Dr Terry Wahl who recovered from being in a wheelchair through eating healthy foods and fats might be helpful. God bless. Joanna

  • tim

    August 6th, 2014 at 10:38 PM

    The thing I can’t figure out is a reason to want to keep going. All that I wanted in life is not possible now: like marriage, exercise, adventure exploration. I make more money now and do more “good”, that people appreciate, is all I got….. but its nothing that touches the soul as my past life did. You have to live a fake life when you’re like this because you can never say what you really think, people can’t handle the real you. So every day is just another lie. Still going on because of fear of death or maybe part of me doesn’t want to hurt family….but it is more fear.

    Spent time in a hospital because the depression was so bad. Shrink did find drug that didn’t cause negative reaction like all SSRIs. This is good,…… but not really the point of why I went in. I can’t find a reason to bother with such a bad life there’s nothing to actually care about. Thousands of dollars later,……? No, no help at all.

    So I write here just to be honest, knowing many others have it worse, but many more have a world of possibilities and happiness that I can’t have. I’m sure there are many opportunities that are good in the eyes of many people,…..hell, my neighbor just likes staying in the house and cooking. But the life that is left is just too dull, too vanilla, too stuffy, too void of soulful clean pure energy. It’s all a fake for now.

    It was good to be honest to something that is somewhat a person.

  • Linda S

    August 24th, 2015 at 10:55 AM

    I searched via Google for depression related to physical disability and came across the site with your comment. I just wanted to give you a verbal hug, because many of your words described what I’m going through. Four terms into permanent disability, my coping skills have caused more issues. I’m the type to push through and stay busy. Now the spinal issues I have are suffering from my “coping” (more accurately labelled as “denial”). That has led to more depression than ever. What is the point to my existence? I struggle through the pain to do a little house cleaning each day, only to realize that my little life “accomplishments” are things that never stay completed. My mind screams to get out of this house and just do something, anything, different, to see some place different. Ah, but sitting is my enemy. Travel increases my pain level, so I may arrive to new sights but I’m in so much pain that I can’t enjoy them. I return home, more depressed, angry, and bitter, because I’m a prisoner to my own body…and thus my home. I remember working full time and feeling like I DID something, and coming home and appreciating home. Now it disgusts me, has become a material reminder of my failings and inabilities. It works with my body to hold me captive as my mind screams to go live life outside of these walls. And then guilt smacks me upside the head. I know I’m blessed to breathe, to have a husband who works so hard just to try and put a smile on my face…but that is where the guilt is born and festers. I’m wasting the life I was given by not doing anything with it, and my husband deserves far more than I will ever be able to be. So I push through another day and try to do something even if it’s just a big meal and dessert…and then I spend two days afterwards miserable with nonstop pain despite the narcotics I’ve eventually agreed to be put on. I don’t like medicines. I want a fix. I want to be me again, the me my mind remembers and screams to be again. But there is no “fix,” just a life ahead of more surgeries to stabilize, resulting in higher pain levels, more medicines, and more imprisonment. My denial and pushing through has backfired. I lie every day about me. I’ll admit I hurt if asked by my husband or doctors, but I smile and say “it’s fine, it is what it is,” and I push forward. Lately I can’t push forward anymore. I feel guilty for my own feelings of worthlessness and depression. I don’t want my husband worried so I don’t talk about the reality of me. I tell him I just have a bad attitude lately, am just being mopey, and I’ll find a way to shake it off. But I’m scared…because I can’t find it in me physically or emotionally to push through and deny or lie anymore. I’m overwhelmed with my own self. And yet I feel so guilty for being who I’ve become that I can’t admit it to anyone. I guess me typing this is my way of anonymously being honest without having to make anyone I know worry. Me being me has put them through enough, and doctors don’t have sufficient time to hear me out. If I started talking, I may never stop. I may also never stop crying. So here’s a verbal hug, because as honest as I try to be, I understand what you say about lying. It’s the only time I lie…and it’s my way of trying to continue my denial and convince myself of my own lies that everything is “fine.”

  • Linda S

    August 24th, 2015 at 10:56 AM

    four *years*

  • Jade

    August 25th, 2017 at 10:05 PM

    Hello, thank you for listening. I’m so grateful to find you. Thank you for putting into words how I’m feeling because I’m so messed up in accepting my pathetically angry thoughts that go with permanent disability that I want to scream. Tim, I feel your heart and Linda S., I swear you’ve described me perfectly, thank you for deep down honesty. At this point all’s I can say is realizing beautiful people (like you guys) who are strangers, mean more to me than I can write because you “get me” . I don’t have to pretend with “oh everything is fine” even if only for a few minutes reading what you wrote and not feeling alone. So yes, I am not fine , and I’m sick and tired of all the fake wordsI must give to people who mean well, or not and ask how are you? I have to say fine(not fine) to them because they don’t really want to hear how bad I am. I’m so sick and realing in pain and my body is one big , broken, disabled , awful shambling mess. My existence is something that brings me to tears because I will never be okay again.I’m permanently a broken body inside and out forever. I want to scream out loud I’m sick of this world and the prison of my sick and agonizing painful day after day existence. But I write this as It hurts to do so, because you’ve touched my heart . I’m extending a hug to you both, and the others here & Chris too with a sincere thank you. To anyone who tries to sell “meds” “a remedy” “vitamin”, med” or whatever you may call “IT” for monetary gain, shame on you. It’s no joke and insulting to peddle something for profit that won’t help, or cure and those that do, I hope you stop now, It’s disgusting, and so wrong and I hope you get punished for it. I’m writing to those who may post about their “junk” for sale ( if it’s known to be worthless) shame on you. Don’t even post it anywhere, don’t prey on the sick who suffer.
    I feel for the other posters here that opened up here, consider yourself brave and courageous and you’re not alone. Thank you for listening .

  • Jen M

    August 30th, 2019 at 10:51 AM

    Tim, I am right there with you. I have no reason to even get up in the morning, and the only reason I do is because it hurts too much to stay in bed. I go to sleep every night praying that I won’t wake up to yet another day of sitting, rocking, crying and staring at nothing. I hate TV, have read every single one of my 100s of books numerous times, can’t afford to buy more and the library runs to children’s books and low IQ readers, not people like me. I do have a husband, but he is disabled too, however, he can still get out and do the things he loves like going mushroom hunting or fishing. I just found out that my mother has been lying to me and my entire family about my dad being my dad. She apparently told him this 4 years after he married her because she was pregnant with me and WHILE she was pregnant with my brother and as a result I went from daddy’s little girl to a nobody and it caused him to pull away not only from me, at a very vulnerable age, with no explanation, but he completely withdrew from my little brother too. My only goal in life was to be my grandmother. A wife, mother and homemaker with a big garden that I would then put up the produce for winter through canning, dehydration and freezing. Well, I got what I wanted and now my kids are grown with kids of their own, but I have no contact with any of them. My extended family pretends I don’t exist after my mom’s revelation, I can barely walk, let alone have the garden or do any canning. My husband tunes me out, no matter what I’m saying, doesn’t matter if it’s positive or negative, I stopped repeating myself because I got sick of feeling ignored. It’s easier to just not talk anymore. We’re broke as hell, so we can’t go anywhere, we can’t even afford the gas to just go to the lake that’s only a half hour away. I feel like I have already fulfilled my purpose and now I’m just waiting for the universe to figure it out and just let me leave. Been in counseling for a year this time and she keeps canceling on me, so not really much help there either. I am at the point where I absolutely hate literally every single human being on the planet and quite honestly I don’t care which of us dies, me or the planet. Gratitude journal? I don’t even have ONE thing a day that I am grateful for because I keep waking up. The day I finally wake up dead, I’ll start a gratitude journal. All this think positive ” and” mind over matter is a load of horse pucky. I have been using all of those self lies for almost 50 years and all I have to show for it is a diagnosis of Complex PTSD and severe clinical depression that I can’t even take anything for because every antidepressant out there causes psychosis. Because of all of the trial and error, where I’m the only one driven insane by serotonin overdose, but the doctors sure make a butt ton of money off of it! I have a very patchy memory of the last 30 years and apparently, the psychosis is why I don’t even know where my kids and grandkids live. They don’t want anything to do with me and call me “that crazy bi***”. I’m so ready to be done with this existence.

  • The Team

    August 31st, 2019 at 4:25 PM

    Hi, Jen. Thank you for visiting the GoodTherapy blog and for sharing your story. If you would like to consult with a mental health professional, please feel free to return to our homepage,, and enter your postal/zip code into the search field to find therapists in your area. If you’re looking for a counselor that practices a specific type of therapy, or who deals with specific concerns, you can make an advanced search by clicking here:

    Once you enter your information, you’ll be directed to a list of therapists and counselors who meet your criteria. From this list, you can click to view our members’ full profiles and contact the therapists themselves for more information. Please contact us if you have any questions.

    If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, in danger of hurting yourself or others, feeling suicidal, overwhelmed, or in crisis, it’s very important that you get immediate help! Information about what to do in a crisis is available here:

  • LuAnn

    August 11th, 2014 at 7:53 AM

    Hi Tim –

    I appreciate your honesty – and I am glad your post was published. I wish I had the magic bullet to help you want to live the life you now have, but there is no such remedy. It must be difficult to experience such a change. The people I work with who have MS often feel this way, but some manage to find meaning in life in unexpected ways.

    I am unsure what your limitations are, but there are many adaptive activities that you might find fulfilling. For example, adaptive golf, adaptive sailing and others. An Occupational Therapist, Recreation Therapist or Physical Therapist may be able to help you tap into something that works for you.

    Changes in relationships are difficult. Some people find it helpful to get involved in support groups where they can be honest about how they feel and meet other people. These are likely not suggestions that you have never heard or thought of before, but some options to consider if/when you are ready.

    I wish you the best.

  • Janice S.

    November 26th, 2015 at 7:52 AM

    I am a patient with severe spinal cord operations and left with a 100% change in my life, my “force of nature”, “my gift of gab”. I am now existing for my husband and my grandchildren as my Adult Son fights with me non=stop about “this depression”, I don’t understand, I don’t get how you don’t w ant to be outside with your grandkids, you live 10 min. away. This is what he says when he decides to phone home. His wife and I do not speak, and she feeds him a lot of this medical garbage that is uneducated and he feed’s right into it. I am done with all the fighting and just told him last night, from this moment in time, if you want to speak to me, it will be with respect. If you don’t understand, get information and look it up. I wanted to hear from others if anyone had similar problems being home and wanting to change the scenery and all I DO IS CANCEL ALL MY FRIEND’S LUNCH DATES OR DR. APPTS. I AM NEVER ABLE TO KEEP A DATE WITH MY FRIENDS ANYMORE. THIS HAS BEEN 3 YEAR’S FOR THIS SEVERE DEPRESSION OF NEVER GOING OUT. MY HUSBAND OF 42 YEARS HAS ALWAYS BEEN THEIR AND I HAVE WORKED 2 JOBS WHEN WE WERE YOUNGER AND HE NEEDED MY HELP. I CAN’T HELP HIM AT ALL NOW AND HE IS 66 AND I AM 63 AND WE HAVE NO SAVINGS AND LOST EVERYTHING IN THE STOCK MARKET IN THE EARLY 2000. I THINK THAT IS WHEN I KNEW WE WOULD NEVER RECOVER THE LOSS OF OUR RETIREMENT AND NOW HE IS STILL WORKING SUCH A DIFFICULT/ MUCH TOO STRENUOUS JOB FOR HIS AGE. MY YOUNGER SON NOW LIVES WITH US AS HE IS DIVORCED AND THIS WAS NOT IN OUR “PLANS” WHEN WE SOLD THE HOUSE AND THOUGHT IT FINALLY “OUR TURN”, NO SUCH THING, WILL NEVER HAPPEN. HE ALWAYS HAD LEARNING PROBLEMS AND I KNEW WHEN HE WAS A CHILD, I WORRIED, FOR HIS ADULTHOOD AND WHAT KIND OF INCOME WOULD HE BE ABLE TO HAVE WITH A FAMILY. HE HAS GIVEN US OUR GRAND-DAUGHTER WHO WILL BE 11, AND SHE IS MY LIFE. THAT IS NOT A GOOD THING, AS SHE IS NOT A BABY ANYMORE OR TODDLER WHO WILL GO WITH ME AND SHE DOES STAY OVER EVERY WEEK TO SEE HER DAD. SHE LOVES US AND WE BUY HER ALL THAT WE CAN. MY SON’S EX IS ENOUGH NOT FOR ME TO JUMP OFF A CLIFF, SHE DOES NOT USE THE MONEY ON MY GRAND=DAUGHTER’S CLOTHES OR ANYTHING SHE NEEDS AND BUYS NOT FOR HER SELF, BUT, GIFTS FOR EVERYONE IN HER HUGE FAMILY AND FRIENDS. THIS MAKES ME SO SICK. I KNOW I SHOULD NOT WORRY ABOUT ALL THIS, BUT WHEN I SEE MY GRAND=DAUGHTER NOT DRESSED THE WAY SHE USED TO BE WHEN I BOUGHT IT ALL, IT MAKES MY HEART HURT.
    Thank you for allowing me to vent and share a drop of what I am dealing with. I will be looking for a new “talk therapist. I have had several with our different insurance plans, and sadly the best one’s I can’t afford.
    Happy Turkey Day. We will bring food in today. Janice S.

  • edward

    March 16th, 2017 at 5:44 AM

    im a person who is a victim of a crime which has led to a visical disability 17 years later im stil treated like a faker by goverment agencies and family members which leads to anger hopelessness it never ends

  • Chris

    May 14th, 2017 at 4:49 AM

    As usual the abled and essentially clueless determined to ‘help’ those less well off.
    “The best treatment for depression is believed to be a combination of talk therapy, exercise (I know—it is very hard to exercise when you are depressed),”
    How on earth does it not occur to you that it is difficult to exercise when you are disabled? Do you assume all disability is simple and functionally localised to one part of the body?

    Here is another one for anger, and I have seen it in a number of people beset by debilitating conditions.
    The venality and utter lack of self-awareness that permeates the helping profession.
    You find me a doctor or moreso a therapist that puts their hand up and says my profession is incompetent to treat, and I will show you a pig with wings.

    Here is the usual story – have you tried ice or meditation? Perhaps cbt? Well we can try referring you to a psychiatrist and medication.
    If anyone is 1. financially well off enough and 2. trusting enough to follow this never ending trail of bread crumbs – the end result is emotional dependence on a profession that thrives on control. Possibly hospitalised. I help you (I am up here, you are down there).

    If your profession had the slightest interest in helping people, you would accept you cannot help, and your only option is to live your own life in a way that opposes the stigma and social isolation that accompanies disability.

    You may start with Masson, who was at that gold standard pinnacle of the ‘helping’ professions, psychiatry. He walked away in utter disgust at the sheer manipulation and control, the poison of help. He edited the bloody Freud archives so don’t act like he was an outsider or a crank.
    His only conclusion? Be better friends to one another.

    So if you want to make the world a better place, why don’t you try doing that instead of writing up pages of politically correct, ‘multidisciplinary’, essentially mindless drivel that can never help anyone except you.
    You go read peoples stories of becoming disabled, instead of telling them what to do when it happens. Time and time again their friends leave them.
    You have friends, and at some point, one or some of them (hopefully not you) will become disabled, and they will change forever.
    That’s where it starts for you.

    Hang on, wait… ‘sign a consent form’ so you can discuss your significant other’s medical issues? What sort of doctor worth their salt would abide it? What sort of partner would want that degree of power in a relationship? You are proposing that a partner is just about one step away from arranging to have someone scheduled.

    In fairness to you, you are not necessarily a fool intellectually, you are just like 90% of the kids who go to college and are inculcated with ideas – which you just regurgitate over and over again in the face of clear evidence they don’t work.
    If you’re idea of supporting a partner is to invade their medical relationship with a GP etc, you are simply incapable of helping anyone – anywhere, anytime – apart from the easily led or those with transient problems they will recover from without your intervention.
    Furthermore, the path you suggest will undoubtedly cause great harm to many.
    The path you suggest, you suggest out of cowardice.

    What happens with you is this: 1. They improve – I fixed them. 2. They end up scheduled and medicated to within an inch of their lives because they told you how they really felt – they were broken to begin with.
    How exactly do you fail? If you are a legitimate professional, your performance is able to be measured. This is the very definition of professionalism.
    How on earth do we evaluate your performance?
    We cannot, and never will be able to.

    Before we discovered a lot of ulcers were due to a bacteria we can for this point in time treat with antibiotics, we prescribed ineffectual treatments like rest. Tuberculosis, off to the sanitorium if you could afford it. Didn’t do a hell of a lot. Before that, leeches. For everything. Before that, trepanation.
    I would wager not once throughout history have we been able to let any state of disease exist without applying a treatment to it, mostly ineffectual. Clearly this is not done in the interests of the patient. I argue that it is done in the interests of society, in classifying and isolating the unwell from the well, and in validating our outright exclusion of them from society.

    Your profession has arrived on the tail end of psychiatry, which has many years of history of flagrant abuse.
    Unfortunately, in your writing, the mantra of control is spectacularly clear.

    If you do have any desire to help, whatsoever, and I mean genuinely help people. You could start by reading Against Therapy – Masson, and then I suggest you sit down with someone who has lost everything due to disability – their former selves. And just listen. Nothing else. Don’t comment, don’t try to use one of your bullshit models with it’s pseudoscientific rubbish. It aids no one. Just listen.
    You can only every learn, by listening.
    I am not convinced you will like what you hear, or what you learn, but this is the world how it is, and not how you would imagine it to be.

  • Christine P.

    June 9th, 2019 at 2:51 PM

    OMG Chris – I could have written your post! And yes, Jeffrey Masson is my hero too: “What we need is fewer experts and more wise friends”. x

  • maria

    July 31st, 2017 at 6:50 AM

    its tough

  • becky

    October 28th, 2017 at 1:38 AM

    everybody on here speaks multitudes of my feelings and some of what i am living with, or as i have come to dread existing with, in my withered shell of a body. tests are all normal…ha, then why am i experiencing more pain, more dysfunction, and becoming more crippled, and any or no movement is debilitating. two years ago i was active and working, i had been for 43 years…then weakness, spasms, and severe pain started, and drs. said i had chronic pain, but not acute, really?!!! felt pretty acute to me. i barely got by. now one year later little by little i have acquired faltering speech or no speech, faltering motor functions, visible muscle atrophy, including facial, full body tremors, walking into walls imbalance, cannot cook, clean, drive, shop, basic adl’s, yet neuros say tests okay! mayo says work with neuros in the area, but with testing coming back normal neuros don’t stay on board, or say they don’t think there’s anything they can do…i say maybe different imaging or other testing, and i say a diagnosis and treatment would be nice…same stories, oh i see you’re retiring, leaving the firm, ah insurance. i could just scream, and i do…but then that makes me cry, and boy do i…daily!!! i was always told i was fun and had extreme patience, now all my days are blending, and sleep only has me waking up to endure more of the same, and i am without a smile or any expression really, and without much real clear thought, and i can’t muster an ounce of patience! it is so not me to have such anger, i feel i am losing my empathy and interest in everything, and it doesn’t feel right. that alone makes me disgusted. i want some part of me back…even a good small part without having to struggle for it.

  • becky

    October 28th, 2017 at 9:24 AM

    ps…needless to say i am very afraid!

  • Amy

    March 25th, 2019 at 4:20 PM

    I was disabled only a few months ago. I’m young- still in college- and now I’m a shell of what I used to be. I’m so tired of people telling me to be positive about it, that its only a disability if I believe it to be so and that I need a better attitude. How can I tell them how much it hurts to know that I can’t have what I see people enjoying all around me? That I won’t wear heels again, or climb again, or run again? How do I say that “thinking positive” doesn’t help me when children stare and ask “Mommy, what’s wrong with her?”. I get so tired of people telling me that it could be worse, and feeling like I’m not allowed to mourn what I’ve lost. I’m so tired of letting myself feel ugly and unwanted when people I thought were my friends tell me that they’re squeamish and don’t want to see my injury. I’m supposed to be young, and active, and at the height of my youth. Damn it, I was supposed to go abroad and go to parties and attend class and just be normal.
    Now? Now I’m broken, sad, angry, helpless, pathetic, deformed, depressed, and so many other things that sometimes I feel it is a struggle to even breathe. I try to put on a brave face, I really do. But its so damn hard to fake happy, when all you want to do is scream at the world for breaking you instead of someone else.

  • Stephanie

    July 11th, 2019 at 8:24 PM

    I just read all the comments then I got to yours. No one can understand what your going through. Anything that has happened to me( I’m in my 50’s it’s been a lot trust me) I have found others in similar situations that could understand and relate to me and it helped. That was the only thing that helped. I suggest you somehow reach out to other young people in your similar situation, whatever it is, you can find someone who understands you, either in person or on the internet. Trust me that’s what will help you deal. Good luck, I’m not anyone important but I’m cheering for you.

  • Aisha

    August 12th, 2019 at 6:31 AM

    I as well got through all the comments and then stumbled upon yours. I’m hear to read about how to help my younger brother cope with his disability. He, like you, was only 18 when he became suddenly disabled and everything in his life has changed. I’m so angry at the world for not allowing him to be a normal human being at the height of his life. He was attending college and working part-time, and just living a life, not hurting a soul. He doesn’t speak about it much but i so wish he would, even if it’s just to get his anger/depression out. I hope you’re doing ok and finding some peace.

  • Jen

    August 30th, 2019 at 12:38 PM

    Chris, you said exactly what I wish I could have said in the way I wish I could have said it. Thank you for being able to be so articulate and coherent with your rebuttal. I’m 53 and have Complex PTSD and have been using all these quackery, supposed “fixes” for literally as long as I can remember and I just keep going further and further down, to the point where I lie curled in bed and try to will my heart to stop beating. I didn’t ask for this, I fu*ked up the only goal I had in my life and I’m beginning to hate my husband almost as much as I hate myself. I can’t exercise, there’s no support groups any closer than an hour away and the only thing my town does offer for people like me is a once a week pinochle game, held in the cold, drafty ambulance bay on hard folding chairs. I’ve tried to make friends and every one of them ends up being a flake, user or hidden jack a**. I outlived my purpose and now I can’t find another one to make living living instead of a long, drawn out punishment for something I don’t deserve to be punished for. New hobbies take money for supplies, getting involved with a support group takes 10 gallons of gas round trip, which again, takes money. There is no place to volunteer without the same amount of gas and the only jobs here would have me standing for the entire shift, which I physically can’t do. I get so angry at all these educated into stupidity people who spout this mind over matter bs that I could very easily throat punch each and every one of them. Antidepressants make me psychotic and I haven’t had a decent therapist since my last one pissed someone off and she was the wife of the council elder and she had him fired. 4 years ago.. I’ve been doing every “psychological band aid”, (CBT, TM, Dialectic, EMDR my entire life and nothing works. I’ve been hospitalized 3 times and each time the ONLY thing they did to “help” me was give me serotonin poisoning or put me in chemical restraints. At age 14 I was hospitalized and placed on 75 mg of thorazine twice a day, effectively turning me into a zombie. I’m not looking for a magic fix, but I WOULD like ANYTHING that actually works!

  • The Team

    August 31st, 2019 at 4:25 PM

    Hi, Jen. Thank you for sharing your comment. If you would like to consult with a mental health professional, please feel free to return to our homepage,, and enter your postal/zip code into the search field to find therapists in your area. If you’re looking for a counselor that practices a specific type of therapy, or who deals with specific concerns, you can make an advanced search by clicking here:

    Once you enter your information, you’ll be directed to a list of therapists and counselors who meet your criteria. From this list, you can click to view our members’ full profiles and contact the therapists themselves for more information. Please contact us if you have any questions.

    If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, in danger of hurting yourself or others, feeling suicidal, overwhelmed, or in crisis, it’s very important that you get immediate help! Information about what to do in a crisis is available here:

  • Jen

    August 31st, 2019 at 6:23 PM

    Thanks for the offer, but I have the entire list of providers within 100 miles from my house that accept my insurance. There are none, just to let you know.

  • The GoodTherapy Team

    September 3rd, 2019 at 8:02 AM

    Hi Jen,

    Thank you for your comment. Please keep in mind that we are a voluntary directory, so not every therapist in your area may be listed with us. A simple internet or Google search should yield more search results.

    The GoodTherapy Team

  • Zoe

    April 15th, 2020 at 2:29 AM

    As unfortunate as it may sound, my brother got involved in a car accident that rendered him invalid three months ago. Since he’s been too irritated at the smallest of things, it’s good to be reminded by your article that we should always separate the person from his displayed behavior and understand why he’s feeling that way. It might be a good idea to install an aluminum wheelchair ramp in our house to show him that we really care about what he’s feeling.

  • Layni

    October 12th, 2020 at 4:52 PM

    It just seems easier to give up and stop the thoughts and disabilities by no longer existing. I feel no purpose now. Like I take the air and have nothing to give back. Hopelessness is like a slow death. I just want it over.

  • lynne

    December 3rd, 2020 at 12:01 PM

    I agree with all of you who say ‘what’s the point of getting up in the morning?’ Since I lost my mobility four months ago I’ve gotten increasingly depressed and anxious. I keep hoping some kind of medical procedure will help, but my research doesn’t offer much hope for that. If one more person says ‘just try to stay happy and be glad you’re alive,’ I’m going to punch somebody out. I do have a supportive husband; if you’re alone, my heart truly goes out to you. I often wonder just why I stay alive and I have to conclude I simply don’t have the guts to end it all.

  • Jen

    December 8th, 2020 at 10:10 PM

    I just re-read this article and oh my God, could you POSSIBLY be more condescending? All of you commenters, I suggest reddit. There are support groups for disabled there and 2 other really good resources are 7 cups of tea and the mighty. They don’t condescend and have support groups for just about any condition. This site is a joke.

  • C&F

    March 31st, 2022 at 6:20 AM

    As I read through this post, I recall my own past when I felt similar emotions of rage and anguish. When we don’t interact and communicate with our friends and family, we develop negative beliefs. It’s important that we don’t let one bad experience be the end. If we take it positively, we can learn from it and move on. I’d like to emphasize that you should try not to allow yourself to be influenced by any of these negative feelings.

  • jamie

    July 14th, 2022 at 11:07 AM

    wow you have opened my eye wide, what I have just read today give me a bit more hope as I have been looking for hope for many years now.
    I had a bad fall of a cliff in wale in the uk on 15th September 2002 it was 40 foot on to my head only.
    the fall smashed my skull to bits & I was put into a coma for many weeks, I went down to 6 & half stone.
    I was able to talk but not walk for a while, this ment I couldn’t work as a plumber/ heating man or ever drive a car again.
    im sad to say I turned to hard drugs which has messed my brain up even more,no sex life no work so now I find it bloody so hard to be NORMAL or how a 47 year old male should be. I have 3 grown up girls aged 24,23 & 19 who are so great all of the time plus the 24 year old has a son so im very happy to say im a granddad.
    but I don’t fill normal, will I ever ? I feel that what ever I do that im being judged all of the time & that I will always will be. I think that im a nice bloke who has a big heart that would help anyone out if I could. but saying that I think the world is so messed up. I now no that I need help NOW & IT CANT WAIT yours Jamie

  • Sara GT

    July 14th, 2022 at 12:06 PM

    Dear Jamie, Thank you for sharing. We are sorry to hear about your fall and how it has impacted you. To find the help you need, you can start finding therapists in your area by entering your country into the search field on this page: Once you enter your information, you’ll be directed to a list of therapists and counselors who can help. You may click to view our members’ full profiles and contact the therapists themselves for more information. If you need help finding a therapist, you are welcome to email us at Kind regards, The GoodTherapy Team

  • maevealleine

    December 4th, 2022 at 8:56 PM

    yeah it’s a real bad sandwich.

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