Updated: Feb 7, 2019
There are so many thoughts that go around your head and emotions you feel when you have Erb’s Palsy / Brachial Plexus Injury. One of the most difficult things to deal with is acceptance. Accepting that you have a disability and accepting that you simply won’t be able to do certain things and accepting that you will absolutely have to adapt and find new ways.
Acceptance is also something that parents can struggle with. It’s a hard thing to get your head around when your baby is injured and it’s potentially someone else’s fault. Accepting that your child will have a life-long injury that will change what they do and how they see the world. Accepting that no matter what you do, their arm may never be as good as it should be. Now I don’t want to fill you all with negativity. That’s not my plan at all. However, I don’t want you to live in denial. Accepting something and being totally cool with it is one of the most powerful things you can ever do.
When I was growing up I hadn’t truly accepted that I had a disability. There were times that I was bullied (see this blog) and there have been times recently when it’s got me upset and frustrated (when I tried dance lessons in Spain). Recently however, I have come to a point of acceptance and it’s truly a remarkable place. Being totally happy with who you are and being proud of what you have achieved is truly a weight off the mind. You start seeing the world differently and rather than worrying about what people think of you, you simply don’t care and you feel free.
"Choose something that you love and go for it. There will be times that will challenge you, but goals are meant to challenge you. Enjoy the journey of trying to figure out how to do something."
How do you get to a point of acceptance?
I’ll be honest. I don’t think there’s any one right answer. The beautiful thing is that although we are in this together, we all have our own individual journeys and we all have different degrees of the injury. What works for me, may not work for you. How I process things in my head, will be very different to how you process things in your head. One thing that worked well for me was mindfulness. I have used meditation since I was a teenager and I highly value the effects that it has on the mind, body and spirit. Mindfulness can allow you to get to a point where you are completely in the present and happy with who you are. Stressing about what others may thing of you will get you spiralling out of control in your head, which will only lead to issues. The blunt truth is, nobody really cares. I don’t mean that in a negative way. What I mean is; If I see someone with one arm, I wonder how they may have lost it. I certainly don’t think any less of them. In fact, I admire them. If people do look at you and are stupid enough to make fun or call you names, then those people are shallow and really not worth your time or energy. There are so many decent people in this world and if they understood what you are going through then they would have nothing but admiration for you.
My advice is to find something which will enable you to get to that point of acceptance. It’s not always an easy ride and there will be times that you feel great and times when you feel awful. But it’s a journey worth going on. We are so good at saying “I’m fine” or “I don’t care what people think.” However deep down, we know that’s not the case. You can try using positive affirmations, you can try writing thoughts down, hypnosis, prayer or talking to friends or family. Remember you need to get to the root of what’s making you feel that way. There can be pressures to look and be a certain way, but honestly you have control of that. You don’t need to conform. You just be you and make sure you be the best version of you that you can be.
Adapt and find your way
When we live with Erb’s Palsy, we are constantly adapting. We adapt when we wash our hair, eat dinner, tie our shoes, put our hand in our pockets, typing, cooking… You name it, we adapt to it. Sometimes it’s only minor adapting, but sometimes it’s huge. Again, the key to living with Erb’s Palsy is adapting and finding YOUR way of doing things. Look at others for inspiration and try out new techniques, but listen to what your body it telling you.
There are some incredibly inspiring people out there with #erbspalsy / #brachialplexusinjury Kyle Stokes (@kylestokes) has transformed his body into something which is hugely impressive. Same goes for Joseph Campbell (@lifting.with.a.disability) and Joe Hughes professional boxer (@joehughesboxing) Remember that you can do whatever you choose to do, but you will need to adapt. Inspiration doesn’t always have to come from being a sportsperson. You may have BPI and be an incredible musician, singer, rapper (@hiphopduke), poet, writer, rock climber, artist, golfer, football player. Choose something that you love and go for it. There will be times that will challenge you, but goals are meant to challenge you. Enjoy the journey of trying to figure out how to do something. If people ask you why you are doing something differently, just be honest. People are usually interested and may even offer you advice. Don’t be afraid to be different. Embrace your injury and use it to empower yourself and others. Please don’t suffer in silence. You are uniquely beautiful and you have so much to offer. Accept and adapt is the key.
I’ve recently started up a range of clothing called Accept/Adapt which is designed to raise awareness and money for people with disabilities. Any profits goes directly to United Brachial Plexus Network (UBPN) to support people with Erb’s Palsy / Brachial Plexus Injury. Please support this and help people accept and adapt. Check out the store here
Follow on Instagram: @acceptandadaptclothing
Much love and peace