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.
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Thinkstock image by Amos Morgan.