Disabilities are not always visible when we look at another person. And they do not always involve the physical problems we usually think of as disabilities.
But, problems with mental and emotional health can result in significant disabilities that are unseen to others.
So was the case for Lauren. Although she suffered with bipolar disorder she led an overtly ‘normal” life – married (and divorced), raised two children, worked a number of different jobs successfully. But below the surface and in the privacy of her home Lauren suffered greatly. Her personal strength allowed her to function even through the pain and the many challenges of balancing medications, severe depression, unpredictable manic episodes and personal trauma.
In her early 70s she reached a point where she knew that she needed a different kind of help and began working with a life coach. She was tired of reacting to crisis after crisis and living a life that felt out-of-control.
After looking through all of her preferences, needs and challenges, it appeared that a move to a senior independent living community would give her the support she needed.
And initially it did.
By clearing away some of the problems she had been facing she was able to focus better on planning.
She then began to see that she needed a further, different solution. A more vibrant multi-generational environment.
She moved again. This time to an apartment complex with a mixture of many ages. There, although she had no official support structure, she created a system of care givers / family /friends.to help her out.
And it has worked.
The structure that Lauren ultimately chose for her life was not one that anyone individually had recommended but rather a collection of pieces that she chose for herself to ensure that she could live a comfortable peaceful life. Through this process Lauren discovered how truly strong she can be and how important it is to choose our own lives and destinies.
Today she is more outgoing assertive and in control then she had been for many years. While her life is not perfect she is very aware that is her own.
Coaches and counselors should not make people’s choices for them, but rather they can help clear away the clutter, and aid clients to focus on priorities and preferences. This enables individuals to choose for themselves and to craft their own path.
Since childhood Lauren had been told that she was not capable of much. But now as a mature adult she finally sees just how very much she really is able to achieve!
You go girl!