Working toward mental health 65
The second step is to start or join a group for women with disabilities. A group
can provide a safe place for women to speak freely. Talking with other women can
help you begin to:
• appreciate your own self-worth and assert your right to make decisions to
improve your lives.
• learn about your strengths and weaknesses.
• share thoughts and experiences about the challenges that come from
having a disability.
• talk about accepting and treating your bodies well.
• support each other during both happy and difficult times.
• learn how to become independent.
• feel good about yourselves, and not allow negative images about disability to
change that feeling.
It was hardest to convince myself
Tina, a woman from Georgia who became disabled after she was the
victim of a crime, shares her experience:
When I realized I was disabled and in a wheelchair, I was shocked. I
thought I was to blame. But day after day, I told myself, “Your sons love
you, and your husband needs you. You are a cosmetologist, and women are
waiting for you to make their faces beautiful. You have to live.” I realized I
was useful to the members of my family and to my society.
I decided to live—and work for them and with them. Now I can see that
my life has changed for the best.
Form support groups
Meeting together with other disabled
women can give a woman more
Sometimes we would arrive at
the meeting feeling bad. We
didn’t want to speak. We had
no energy. But then a hug or a
strength and hope, which then helps her
cope with daily challenges.
Just being able to talk about a
laugh would be catching, and
all of us would feel stronger.
Just being together, and not
alone, gives us strength.
problem can be helpful. After one
woman tells her story, the leader can ask
for similar experiences. After everyone has listened to these, the group can discuss
what the stories have in common, whether the problems are partly caused by social
conditions, and if so, what we might do to change these conditions.
Then the women can decide whether to work to solve problems separately or
together. Women acting together are more powerful than one woman acting alone.
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007