Thanks to You, Cerebral Palsy

Dear Cerebral Palsy,

Although you are and have always been a part of me, I’ve worked hard to make certain I don’t allow you to consume my life. If I am honest, it has been a rather difficult process. Let’s start from the beginning, though.

In the beginning, I was not sure what to think of you. I did not know where this journey with a disability would take me. I would not describe this feeling as distaste, but more of an uncertain path. I did not come to expect what I would learn about this world, even in my very first years. People can be cruel. I do not know the reasoning for this. Maybe people just do not understand what they cannot imagine dealing with.

Whatever the reason, I can say that my first taste of discrimination at the age of 7 would leave me frozen with fear and with an unfortunate understanding that this would not be an easy journey. I was first introduced to the pain this would inflict when my teacher referred to me as “an old lady” and constantly poked fun at my wheelchair in front of the entire class. I would leave school embarrassed and crying because I was absolutely and utterly humiliated.

My parents attended conference after conference with this woman to absolve my hurt. Unfortunately, nothing was done, even though my parents were extremely persistent. I am not going to say their efforts failed, but rather, it was an act of carelessness on the part of the school. If anything positive at all came from these instances, it would be that it prepared for me what was to come in terms of bullying and feeling like a burden to others.

It was far from over once I left elementary school. The bullying and teasing would continue into my high school years. The differences you presented me with were a big deal. To be completely honest, I can only chalk these feelings up to a lack of diversity training in and outside of the home.

You have caused me to feel emptiness and enter the darkest nooks of depression. I believe God knew what He was doing when He made me this way. I just didn’t understand and often asked myself why I was chosen to lead the rather challenging life of a disabled person. This left me feeling soulless and almost as if I was at the end of my rope. Nevertheless, the angel on my shoulder thankfully kept me headstrong and grounded.

My wonderful friends and family taught me that I was valued. It was through their never-ending encouragement that I came to terms with you. I decided I was going to live with you, and I was going to present myself with confidence and zeal. I was not going to let your involuntary movements and difficult challenges take over my life, no matter how hard you may try. I was going to no longer let the negative aspects of you consume my illuminated spirit!

I am happy to say that you have allowed me to carry this outgoing and positive attitude for many years. In fact, I am often commended for always smiling no matter what you are putting me through. I sometimes fake a smile because you can really push my buttons, but for the most part, I am an extremely happy and outgoing person.

Though, I cannot help but notice that our relationship has become rather “rocky” as of late. You are pushing me to my limits with chronic aches and pains. You make me scream and cry out of frustration. You wear me down with the spasticity. I know when you are angry with me because you sure do know how to put pressure on every muscle in my body! I want to fall over from exhaustion during the day, because you push me until I cannot take it anymore. You have caused me to rely on medicine to feel better as well. We visit the doctor’s office a lot more than we used to. However, also thanks to you, I no longer fear my general practitioner. In fact, I now love him because he gives me medicines to cope with your pain — so thank you for that.

Despite all of this, I love you. I love you because you make me who I am. I love you because you give me an individualistic and introspective view on life that I would not have otherwise. I love you because you give me an opportunity to teach people not only how to live with a challenge, but to do so confidently. You are a small gift in a huge and opportunistic world.



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

Thinkstock image by Wavetop.

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

Related to Cerebral Palsy

Woman in a power wheelchair.

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 [...]
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 [...]