COVID-19 has changed the way we live our lives. Every state has some type of stay-at-home order. I truly believe this is a temporary setback for Americans and I have remained in great spirits. I am currently quarantining in upstate New York at my parents’ house. New York has some of the strictest restrictions in the United States, as set forth by our governor. You need a document from the state to travel on the roads, confirming you own an essential business or are an essential worker.
I have had a lot of friends and family reach out to me in the past few months. Some of these friends and family members I don’t really talk to often. I feel like the reason most of them are reaching out during this time is that they are concerned for my health and well-being. Or, at least they seem very concerned when the conversation starts. But in all of my phone conversations and video chats, I noticed a common theme. They seem worried or concerned more about themselves and are looking for advice from someone who has faced challenges his whole life. The first person they think of for advice is me, Josh, “the guy in the chair.” And I am happy to help.
I am a firm believer that mental strength is something you learn. It is not something you are born with. I feel that when you are faced with a disability, you develop an incredible mental strength. This strength allows you to persevere when you are having a bad day or your disability is fighting your body. It also puts that little voice in your head that tells you, “if it rains today, the sun will be out tomorrow.”
When I speak to my friends who also have disabilities, I notice they are handling the stay-at-home orders and quarantining way better than my able-bodied friends. I have spent the past few days diving deeper into this topic. Why are my friends who have disabilities handling the stay at home orders better than my abled-bodied friends?
If you are an abled-bodied individual and you hike, bike and live a very active lifestyle every day, quarantine takes that away from you and this might be the first time you’ve experienced that. This is where mental strength comes in. Being active is a big part of your life and now you are unable to experience that. Thankfully for the abled bodied person who hikes and bikes every day, when quarantine restrictions are lifted, he or she can hike and bike again. Life returns to normal for them.
Imagine if you have a disability like me and at one time, you were able to play sports, run, jump and live an active lifestyle. Suddenly you can’t do those things anymore and now use a wheelchair as your legs, unlike the person above, who is able to do these activities after quarantine is lifted. Being in a wheelchair is a permanent adjustment. There is no running or playing sports when quarantine is over. I have accepted the facts and that my chair is my legs.
For me, when the quarantine restrictions are lifted, I can use my chair to go places and do activities. My chair allows me to live an independent and active life when this is over. But I am still confined to my chair. Knowing this gives me and my disabled friends a mental advantage. We have learned to accept life and what we are given. I believe this makes us more adaptable to quarantine.
When I was on my public speaking tour, I always told my audience that in life, we should be thankful for every new day. If it rains today, the sun comes up tomorrow. Be thankful you have food in your stomach and clothes on your back. Someone is always going through something worse than what you are experiencing. With every new morning, I am thankful that I can open my eyes and experience a new day. The day may be filled with sunshine or rain. But remember to keep a smile on your face and be thankful for what you have in this life. That gives you the mental strength to get through a tough time.
About Josh McDermott: Josh is a brand ambassador for Quantum Rehab®. He is a public speaker and has served as a goodwill ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Josh lives in New York and loves to travel. Click hereto learn more about Josh.