Monday, May 9, 2011

Happiness with a SCI

Ever wonder why some people are happier than others? Do you think to yourself how someone could live their life with content given their circumstances? Have you ever noticed someone in a worse off situation that's happier than you? It's a common misconception that the more money or power or beauty or fame you have makes you a happier person. In fact, studies have shown that there isn't a strong correlation between these things and happiness. I believe it's all in how you look at things, how you view life and the things around you, and what you value most.

People often tell me that I "look so happy" and that I am a very "positive person" given my circumstances. I usually just smile and say thank you, because I really don't know what else to say to that. Some people actually seem shocked that I even give them a smile back. Yes, my situation is challenging. I'm a C-1 C-2 quadriplegic on a ventilator paralyzed from the neck down and require 24/7 nursing to do almost everything for me. When you word it that way it does sound a little depressing. But despite all of this, I do live my life to the fullest and I'm proud to say that I am a "happy and positive person."

What kind of life would I be living if I went around being mad all the time for what happened to me? How do you think I would feel inside if I spent my days dwelling on the past instead of looking at the present and future? If I kept spinning questions around in my head like why me? What did I do to deserve this? Who would do such a thing? Why would anyone want to put this on another? Or if I were to question my own judgment by going through the scenario of that night and asking all the what if's. What if I had decided to stay home that night? What if I hadn't gotten in the car? What if I had chosen to sit in a different seat? To me, it seems so silly and pointless to ask these questions, given that it doesn't do any good and I never get any answers; the only thing it does do is make me go crazy inside.

Of course, I know that there are many people out there in similar situations who have not accepted what's happened to them and do question things constantly. They wonder why they made the choices they did or how this could happen to them. To those people I say good luck in finding the answers and let me know if you do. In my mind, it is a waste of time to be mad or question choices made in life.

I choose happiness because I want my life to be worth something; I want meaning and purpose in my life. I want to be able to live with what happened to me and not die with regret, unforgiveness, frustration, bitterness, or anger.



Heather said...

It's refreshing to hear you say this because I feel the exact same way. Sure, we are living the kind of life that we wish we were, but were both making the best of it, which is what really matters. Congrats on winning Ms. wheelchair Minnesota, by the way!

A Veiled Connotation said...

Jenni - Random question but..Have you seen the SCI story in the British soap? Its call emmerdale and is about a young adult named Jackson. After an accident, he became a quadriplegic SCI patient.

Matthew Smith said...

I've actually seen the Emmerdale SCI story (I don't watch it regularly but have seen bits of it) and it's no secret (although it hasn't been shown yet) that Jackson eventually ends his own life. That is sadly the way disability stories go in British soaps -- either the guy turns out to be nasty after all (like Adam, I think his name was, in Eastenders) or it turns into a tragedy. This is because someone living a relatively happy life is basically not dramatic enough, and a tragedy is an easy way to provide drama. Also, there has been a lot of news stories recently about assisted suicide, so perhaps it seems "topical".

I was recently reading the blog of a woman with ME (known as CFS in the States) named Claire Wade, who now runs a company which provides "virtual holidays" for people who can't travel for some reason (like being house-bound). She had to leave school when she was 16, before she could take any exams, but recently said it was a good thing because she would have otherwise ended up in a job she really didn't like, and she loves the work she's doing now.