This is the third post in a series of 3.
Part I was about how we must appreciate our own value despite sniping from media and politicians spouting lazy populist rubbish about needing to cut funding for the NDIS. The fact is that providing support for people with disability doesn’t just make sense morally and socially, it makes sense economically too. Find it here.
Part II was about how it can help us appreciate our value better if each of us who has, is related to, or cares for someone who has a disability would do what we can to raise awareness of FA and never miss an opportunity to try to raise funds for research to find treatments and a cure. Find it here.
Before I get into Part III let me say that I’m no expert. If you or someone you know needs personal help, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
I started writing this series because I smarted at a post on Facebook by an FAer who was considering taking their own life. I’m happy to say they were flooded with responses explaining why they shouldn’t, and were talked down as a result, but to me it came down to them not appreciating their own value, so if you’ve ever had a similar concern, read on for my perspective.
Here’s some good news: your physical limitations are less important than you think. And here’s some more good news: you are more important than you think.
Many with a disability like FA say they don’t want their disability to define them. It’s something they have, but it’s not them. But it’s an error to think that just because their disability is the first thing described, it’s the defining thing. Their disability is often the first thing that’s described about them because accessibility tends to be non-negotiable. But once accessibility barriers have been overcome, their disability isn’t an issue anymore.
In my time in advertising I learned that people remember little of what you tell them, some of what you show them, but people remember a brand best if it causes them to feel something.
Think back to the last time you saw someone in a wheelchair while you were out. Have you thought about them since? Nowadays disability isn’t noteworthy, and it’s especially not memorable. Disability tends to be the first thing in someone’s description because that’s when it matters. It won’t be the only thing in their description. The rest comes from how you make people feel. That’s the important bit.
I can’t offer a solution to someone who’s suicidal, beyond asking again that you call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
In my experience, suicidal thoughts are felt most by those who experience loneliness. That loneliness might not be the driver to suicide but it’s probably why the individual felt they couldn’t find a solution to their problems.
And I believe the answer to loneliness isn’t to have more friends or contacts, it’s to be meaningfully engaged with some that you already have. Engagement needn’t be intense to be meaningful. Nor need it be frequent. Both are up to you.
None of us gets to determine our own value. It’s a case of give and you’ll receive. Our value comes from the roles we play in the lives of others; sometimes that value multiplies because we play multiple roles.
What I do recommend though, is that each of us make meaningful contact with at least two people who matter in our lives. Have an objective to learn something new about them or share some of your own news that they can relate to. After a conversation like that, if you feel just a little better, you can be sure they feel a little better too. That’s a little of your value. And each time you want to increase your value, do it again.