NDIS: The mental toll and how you can use it to crush life!

G’day friends and welcome to another blog!

Last week I had to try and schedule my NDIS plan review. For those who don’t know the NDIS stands for National Disability Insurance Scheme. So it is practically a way in which the Federal Government will pay for certain therapies and modifications to ensure disabled people can have access to everything they need to make life easier.. Isn’t that the best thing in the world?! They give you a plan with a budget in which you can pay for anything from aids, therapies and some modifications… Within reason of course, because the Government will not want to pay for your whole house demo and reno!  

Yes I know, talking finances or politics is a taboo subject. It is like that unspoken code in society that you just don’t go near! I know a few people who will read this will not be happy because they think I am getting ‘government handouts’, or may not even know I am even on the NDIS. I am not even going attempt to change their opinions, because hey that is just how they think and that is ok!

For those who are fortunate enough to have a NDIS plan, it is a massive blessing. However, not many people know about the emotional toll that comes with this blessing.

When I say emotional, you go on a massive mental and emotional roller coaster ride in every stage of the plan that repeats every plan review time… That is unless you are able to see a completely different side to process!

But first let me tell you a story!

NDIS: But first Story time.

Me walking on the beach. The blue ocean is behind me. I am in Brown shorts with a black patterned top. My hands are in my pockets and am smiling to someone in the distance

I have been on the NDIS for a few years now. Like I said earlier I am super lucky and fortunate to be in the program. However, I was not expecting the emotions that came with the initial meeting to get me set up on a plan.

Who here likes to go through their life with a fine tooth comb with a group of complete strangers? I am sure not many of you would enjoy that!

However, that is what happens and the process to get on the NDIS. I was expecting it, but not expecting the type of questions they asked.

It certainly is a humbling experience for sure when someone asks you how you go about toileting, showering, getting changed to name a few. They certainly don’t beat around the bush and get straight to the point that is for sure!

My first meeting I had my mum there as my support person, and also because I wasn’t 18 just yet. Thank goodness I did! We didn’t even get half way through before we had a flood in our living room due to my eyes!

At that point in time, I was at a place in my life where I was still pretty insecure about my condition, and I hadn’t fully accepted it yet. I am also a person who actively chooses to think of the positives and what I can do rather than what I can’t. Because a lets face it, no one wants to constantly think of the negative!

What got me upset was having to focus on what day-to-day things I couldn’t do. It made me feel like I wasn’t going as good as what I thought with my condition, and I didn’t realise just how much I am still dependent on care.

I had to leave the meeting briefly to calm down, and I also didn’t want to risk drowning the NDIS representatives!

However, everyone knows that there are times where sadness turns to anger. I could feel myself slowly getting angry and on the defensive! I started thinking ‘what right do these people have judging my life to see if I qualify for government help like this?’. I failed to see that they needed to know in order to get me the most monetary help they could get me! I failed to see that they were there to help me because they cared!

After the meeting, they genuinely apologised for making me feel upset, and said it was great I was so open because now they could lodge my application, and get me the money to fund physio appointments that I desperately needed, and start to get me more independent! That made me happy very quickly!

Independence is the overall aim of NDIS and getting people like me out in the community and accessing things we desperately need!

NDIS: What I have learnt each review?

A desk with a laptop open on it. There is a coffee next to the computer with a notepad, pen and phone next to it.
Photo by Andrew Neel from Pexels

Plan review time isn’t easy. If you aren’t in the right mindset before you sit down for you meeting, you can easily feel judged!

I think when you are disabled, you constantly feel judged in society because people gawk and will make comments about you as they walk past.  So naturally you are always on the defensive.

Believe me it takes a lot of work to be able to get to a place mentally where the judgments and comments don’t impact you anymore!

Each time a plan review comes around, it is the perfect opportunity to put the hard work into practice.

Is it still mentally taxing? Yes.

Does it make you want to eat your feelings? For sure! I did that after the first few meetings!

However, I feel like mindset plays a massive role here!

I find if you go into a stressful situation already on edge and on the defence, you will stay that way. If you go into that situation with an understanding, you realise that they are there to help and have processes to follow!

I have had clients in my job verbally abuse me because they feel the system is unfair and think it is me holding them back. Same with the NDIS, it isn’t the person it is the process that is the guilty party!

What is the point in taking your anger out on the person who is just doing there job? Do you really want to turn green and end up using a broom as your mode of transport? No I don’t think so.

What I have realised each NDIS review is that sometimes you need a slice of humble pie every now and again. It teaches you gratitude for what you still can do and for those around who!

It teaches you love and compassion. It teaches you self-love and respect.

It shows you where you can improve in your mentality. It shows you just how far you have come and how much help you have received and the help you can obtain!

There are a lot of positive things you can take away from a situation like a NDIS plan review.

Yes it is confronting, it will always be confronting. Someone is sitting there and highlighting to you all the things you can’t do, that is never a fun thing to go through. However, if you choose to see the benefits 1hr of uncomfortableness gives you, you will leave that meeting feeling grateful. Is it easy? No it isn’t by any means.

I still clearly struggle with it. I am working on it though. However I don’t beat myself up for feeling upset or mentally drained. I allow myself to feel that, but will spend the rest of the day looking after myself. If that is taking a nice long hot bath, exercising, stretching, eating healthy food, watching a movie or reading a book. Whatever I feel I need to do I will do it! Any excuse for a self-pamper day I will use it! And my goodness it is so worth it!

Afterall, no one likes to stay feeling like a grouch!

NDIS: The one feeling you need to throw away now!

hands outstretched in the air. handcuffs are breaking symbolising freedom. Blue sky with white clouds are behind the hands.

The one thing I need everyone in the disability community regardless of if they are on the NDIS or not; is to throw in the garbage or in the fire the feeling of guilt!

This feeling is something we know all too well. We are made to feel guilty for speaking up if we can’t get into a restaurant, a shopping centre or even a plane. We are made to feel guilty for simply needing help like being on the NDIS.

However, what I have learnt over the last few years is we can choose how other people make us feel! I don’t know about you but I personally hate feeling angry at people and situations! There are better ways to channel that feeling!

We do not need to feel guilty for needing help! The NDIS is there for a reason! It is to make our lives better.

And besides, we all have to ask ourselves in any situation, to we value the opinions of others who try to make us feel guilty? Is it their opinion or is it the system they are trying to follow?  Or is it the system and conditioning everyone is brought up to believe?

The NDIS has helped my life in more ways than I can count. It is helped me access so much support and therapies I otherwise couldn’t afford! It has got me out in the community and feeling confident in my abilities. It has led me to try more activities, to become more independent at home! That is something I am so grateful for every time I leave my Physio’s office. I know when I leave the office, NDIS are taking care of the bill.

Being disabled is expensive in every sense of the word. The one thing being on the NDIS has shown me and given me, is the joy and gratitude I feel towards my life and my own body. My body has had to endure a lot of upheavals and is in constant battle mode.

The NDIS enables me to take care of my body, and enjoy life!

Yes, there is a mental side to the NDIS I didn’t know about. But feeling low for an hour or 2 every couple of years is worth the reward the plan provides.

If you are feeling guility for reaching out and needing help, whatever that capacity is, know there are people out there who want to help and have given their lives to helping people like you! That alone should make you feel pretty special and loved.

Ignore those who try to make you feel guility, or make you feel less than. Chances are they have mental demons of their own that they need to take care of. Use their words to inspire you to be a better version of yourself! Use their words to push for better change in the world, more accessibility and education around disability life!

It is amazing that through the most difficult and trying situations, we can find incredible opportunities for growth, positivity, change and gratitude.

I choose to ignore the guilt, and instead choose to feel grateful for everything the NDIS has given me and taught me about myself.

I am walking (or wheeling haven’t decided yet) into my next plan review feeling grateful and ready to learn more about myself.

What are you going to choose to see in your uncomfortable situations?

-Rhi xo.

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