Living With Insecurities as a Person With Cerebral Palsy

Even though I am 41 years old, I still have insecurities as far as having cerebral palsy.  I believe that from the moment you realize that you are different than others, you psychologically feel very different about yourself. Often no matter how much you do not want to feel insecure, the insecure feelings usually find an opportunity to climb inside your mind.

My type of cerebral palsy makes it very difficult for me to control my limbs with smooth, directed movements. What does that mean for real life? I have difficulty feeding myself with utensils, dressing myself, using the bathroom, writing without technology and many daily life activities we all do a million times per day. Needing assistance in these situations can leave someone feeling vulnerable and insecure.

This scenario might sound a bit surprising, but when I am in my wheelchair I can’t successfully feed myself. But when I am sitting on the floor, I can feed myself — for the most part, anyway. If it’s food I am able to stab with a fork, I have a weighted fork and can get the food. A weighted fork has weights inside so my arm has a harder time having a spasm and flying away with it. For food that I can’t use a fork to pick up, I simply bend over and pick it up with my tongue or mouth.

Eating by bending over and using my mouth gives me greater independence and freedom to eat at my own pace. Sometimes when you are being fed, you worry if you are eating too fast or in my case usually, too slow. You may feel self-conscious if you want to eat seconds or more of something. I do not know when or who, but I heard someone compare how I eat independently to a dog eating their food. From that moment, I would feel almost embarrassed to eat this way in front of people — especially when they do not know me very well. For example, when I have a new personal care attendant or my daughter has a friend sleepover are times I feel the most insecure.

Using the bathroom independently is usually not a group activity (unless you have toddlers, of course). However, when you have a disability that prevents you from using the bathroom on your own, insecurities can happen. If I could get one ability that I could do completely on my own, it would definitely be to use the bathroom on my own. I hate asking help to use the bathroom because I do not like inconveniencing anyone. I also do not like having to put off going to the bathroom because I am out somewhere, either with someone who can’t help me or the accessibility just is not practical. I cannot tell you enough how many times I have been in physical discomfort or pain because of not being able to go to the bathroom. Also, when you need help using the bathroom, you might need help with clean up or as a female, changing feminine products.  All of this can bring on all kinds of insecurities and embarrassment.

I wish I had the answers to how to overcome these insecure feelings, but I’m still working on that myself. I just try to accept being human and I have the right to eat and use the bathroom just like anyone else. Not using the bathroom can cause damage to the body, and that is a lot worse than asking for help.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock image by Amos Morgan.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Cerebral Palsy

Fireworks in the sky.

Why Fireworks Are Difficult as a Person With Cerebral Palsy

Ordinarily, I forget. I forget about the fireworks. I forget about the sudden bursts of noise. I forget that the Independence Day festivities begin before July 4th and last for days after. I forget about the effect unexpected sensory stimulation has on my jangled nervous system. Every year in early July, I am jolted awake [...]
Woman walking on path in forest.

17 Ways My Cerebral Palsy Affects Me

Cerebral palsy affects more than just my ability to balance. Below I have listed 17 facts about my cerebral palsy and how it impacts me and how I view the world. I chose the number 17 to represent the estimated 17 million people in the world who have cerebral palsy. 1. My cerebral palsy affects the right [...]
Illustration of two people, one is sending a message and the other waits to receive it

4 Tips on How to Talk to My Son With a Speech Difference

My adult son has cerebral palsy and various other disabilities, including a visual impairment. He also has his MSW and a job as community organizer with the Independent Living Resource Center in Santa Barbara. When people first meet him they are often disquieted because his eyes jerk around (nystagmus) and his speech can be hard [...]
Man sitting on bench overlooking sea.

What Cerebral Palsy Has Given Me

When I was a kid, I remember going to the occupational therapist and working on fine tuning my motor skills. It would take longer than the average kid, but I would eventually be able to walk on my own after many hours of trying and failing. I would go on to have my first major [...]