The Art of Staying Calm

Two weeks or so ago, I fell crossing the street in my neighborhood. One minute I was walking along, and the next I was on the ground. The fall wasn’t a bad one, but the whole ordeal was pretty embarrassing to say the least. One would think I would be used to falling over by now, having lived this way my entire life, but I have to be honest and say that I’m not. It might be because I don’t particularly enjoy being the center of attention, or being seen as fragile or helpless. While these feelings don’t typically present themselves all the time, they certainly emerge when I fall over in public.

Of course, seeing anyone fall over in the street can rouse panic, but to me it feels like a bystander’s panic is almost tripled in my case because they see my crutches, which they presumably associate with being physically disabled. Therefore, a bystander may think that I am more vulnerable or more prone to a serious injury. This could very well be true, but their panic still makes me cringe and want to disappear.

That’s why I’ve always been conscious of what I like to call, “The Art of Staying Calm.”

In regards to my fall, here were some key concepts relating to such a practice:

  • Staying still for a few moments to let my body recover from the initial shock of hitting the pavement
  • Breathing
  • Saying “I’m Fine” to the concerned people around me* 
  • Taking slow, careful movements to get out of harm’s way

*This might be obvious, but I feel obligated to point out that one should only say they’re fine only if they’re actually fine. If this is not the case, SPEAK UP.*

The Art of Staying Calm helps me maintain a sense of control. Since there are so many components of my disability that I cannot control, like pain, aches, fatigue, poor balance, high muscle tone, spasticity, the inability to walk very far or at all without crutches… it’s important to recognize what I can control, and honor that.