Coping with SCI/Family & Friends

Finding a New Happiness

For many people after they have a spinal cord injury, depression (definition: feelings of severe despondency and dejection) sets in. This is common and many experience depression up to two years after their accident (sometimes even longer). While it's understandable to be sad about everything lost, it's important to find a new way to be happy again.

Life is too short to let your injury overwhelm your future days with sadness. You can find a way to be happy again. Many people with spinal cord injuries do, and they all have their tricks. Here are a few of them:

  • - Try a new lobby, but make sure it's something you always wanted to do (not just something to do now that you're paralyzed). Drone flying, sculpting, public speaking, car racing, tkite fying,raveling, writing; there are millions of options even for those with the highest of injuries. Find something you are genuinely interested in, and make it your new passion.
  • Embrace the senses not affected by your injury - sight, smell, and taste. Concerts/creating music, cooking, perfume making, photography; these are just some of the ways people with spinal cord injuries feel alive in spite of sensory and motor loss.
  • Take care of someone other than yourself - having a pet, becoming a parent, caring for an aging parent, volunteering and more. Helping someone other than yourself takes your mind off of your own life stressors, and it helps you feel wanted and worthwhile.
  • Get a makeover from head to toe and focus on getting in shape. While you can't change the fact that you're paralyzed, you can still have control over your body and love how you look and feel.
  • Meditate or connect with some type of spirituality. Whether you're religious or not, finding inner peace after a spinal cord injury is essential. Try to find it any way you can, whether it's in a place of worship, in nature or even in your own home. Being at peace is the first step towards happiness.
  • Go to school or return to work. Going to school can help you feel worthwhile again (not to mention hopeful) and returning to work (if possible) can be all that's needed to help someone with spinal cord injury find happiness again through feeling useful.

There are dozens of more ways people with spinal cord injuries find their "happy" again, but we hope the above tips help. Please watch the video below showing how paralyzed surfer Jesse Billauer has been able to stay optimistic post-injury, and make sure to read the Takeaway Points below.

Video:  Spinal Cord Injury Survivor and Optimistic Surfer - Jesse Billauer

Takeaway Points:

  • Reimagine new ways to do things you love (you may just need more help)
  • Discover new life passions
  • Take care of others outside of you
  • Return to work or school to feel useful again
  • You don't have to do nothing with your life. Don't listen to stereotypes
  • Concentrate on what you can do, and do not dwell on what you can't do
  • You can have the bare minimum but with a positive attitude, you can feel super rich
  • Life is about choices; you can wait for things to happen or you can make things happen

Helpful Links:

Depression and Spinal Cord Injury (PDF) - UAB - SCIMS - http://www.msktc.org/lib/docs/Factsheets/SCI_Depression_and_SCI.pdf