Living with a disability can throw up all sorts of challenges on a daily basis, on top of the usual struggles of being a teenager. Everyone feels down, anxious or like they don’t fit in sometimes. But if you’ve been feeling this way for ages it could be a warning flag for something more serious like depression or anxiety.

Living with a disability can cause issues that impact your mental health. Because of your disability, you may look or act differently than people around you. You might not fit in or get left out, taken advantage of, or get bullied.

This can damage your self-esteem, affect your school marks, and could leave you more open to depression, anxiety, doing unsafe stuff like turning to alcohol and drugs, or self-harm.

Having a disability could also get at your self-esteem if it limits you from doing stuff you want (like playing sport or working) or if it makes you dependent on someone else for help. And if they’re not there to help or there are any delays or interruptions to the support you need, it can create anxiety.

If you have an ‘invisible’ disability (that is, a disability with no obvious signs, like epilepsy) you’ll face different experiences and different challenges to people with more obvious disabilities. Because others won’t be aware of your needs and challenges, it can be hard for them to understand the struggles you might be facing on the inside.

If your disability happened later in life (as in you weren’t born with it) you’ll probably feel really miserable about not being able to do everything you used to. This sense of loss sucks but it’s natural and there are ways to deal with it.

You are unique - you don’t have to be the same as everyone else. After all, no two people are the same. It helps to get the support of a trusted person who understands you (your school might have a specialist disability unit - they are there to help).

There are also lots of other places and organisations that are here to support you, take a look at Pasifika disability services and check this site out so you can fully understand your rights.


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