Making Friends Post-Injury
Kirsten Sharp and Teri Thorson – Colour Wheels – Gala Event showcasing visual & performing artists with spinal cord injuryIt can be difficult maintaining and finding friends while living with a spinal cord injury. Some people do not struggle Kirsten Sharp and Teri Thorson – Colour Wheels – Gala Event showcasing visual & performing artists with spinal cord injury with this at all, while many others find that they may lose friends after their injury and need to find new ones. When you are one of the few people with disabilities in the room, you may feel alienated and left out. Sometimes, it may feel like your disability makes finding true friendships impossible. However, this is not the case.
While it may take more time to find open-minded people who see past your disability, you can expand your circle of friends even while living with a spinal cord injury. Here are some tips on making that happen:
Join a Support Group
There are many disability support groups across the nation, both online and in-person. If you live in a large city, chances are there is a spinal cord injury support group at a hospital near you. You can also try searching online for any kind of disability support group near you. Many in-person meet-ups with other people with disabilities take place around the country. You can even try joining an in-person gaming group with able-bodied people; many different people from gaming groups will post online looking for people near them to join.
You can also join online support groups for people with spinal cord injuries on social media sites like Facebook. There are many people in these groups online who are also seeking new friends. Making friends with people with spinal cord injuries can be an incredible experience, as they can understand and empathize with what you are going through. Do not think, however, that you only need to have friends who also have a disability. It is also good to reconnect with old friends, if possible.
Get Involved in Adaptive Sports
One of the most popular ways to find new friends when you have a spinal cord injury is by joining a disability sports team or taking part in some kind of adaptive activity. Whenever you are around like-minded people who have similar interests and understand spinal cord injuries, you are bound to meet great people and possibly make some lifelong friends.
Quad rugby is one of the most life-changing sports for many people with spinal cord injuries. The people you can meet through this sport will teach you things you never thought were possible. However, quad rugby is not the only sport that offers this; any adaptive sport or recreational activity you become involved in can offer the same thing. Whether you choose to participate in wheelchair basketball, adaptive surfing, adaptive skiing, or wheelchair yoga, there are so many places and opportunities to meet great people, all while staying active.
Become a Regular Somewhere, and Smile
Whether it is a bar, a coffee shop, or a diner, finding an establishment you love and going there often can increase your chances of finding new friends. People who also spend time there must share some similar interests with you, which means you are bound to meet people you’ll get along with. Since you’ll most likely be one of the only wheelchair-users at the establishment you choose, make sure to smile and be as approachable as possible. Unfortunately, some people feel uncomfortable around people with disabilities. Smiling and being approachable can help people overcome any nerves they may be feeling during your conversations.
Once you have made new friends, try to be as honest with your friends about your disability as possible. They will value your openness and appreciate your willingness to share important personal details. Keep in mind that it can also be difficult at times to attend social events when you have a spinal cord injury. If you cancel on your friends because you would have trouble attending the event, make sure to let your friends know your reason for cancelling so you continue to maintain stable friendships while managing your disability.