Today I wear green for a very special reason! Nope, I haven’t got my days wrong and doing this for St. Patrick’s Day. Nope, I haven’t converted my favourite colour to green, it is still very much rainbow (though I could be just repping one of its colours just because, but it’s not that either). I am seen in green today because it’s Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day!
For those who don’t know what the heck Cerebral Palsy is, I described it as something that means my movements are a little uncoordinated . Why? Well I don’t really like the ‘why’ very much as for some, this can spark a spiral of stories in their mind when they hear the phrase ‘Brain Damage’ and don’t hear or ignore the rest of the sentence. Also another reason why I haven’t wrote about CP in this way before is because to me this bit is kind of irrelevant as you know the damage has sort of…already been done…I think that is the saying anyway! But as it is CP awareness day, I will try to explain quickly!
Yes, CP is a result of brain damage, which that occurs before, during or after birth or in childhood, and has an impact on the part of the brain that is responsible for a person’s movement and coordination. This, therefore, has an impact on one’s physical ability. The symptoms and severity of CP varies from person to person, so I can only write about my experience which will definitely be different, if only slight, from someone else. For me, as said earlier, my movements can be shaky, slow and CP can also throw in a few unwanted moves now and again. With this, there is also one huge give away when I am a little anxious about something – I am a more wobbly than usual (shaky Sallie X10!!). Sometimes my muscles can be stiff especially on my right side of my body therefore can be hard to complete tasks with my right hand, therefore I tend to do almost everything with my left. Also, as if CP hasn’t stole enough limelight-still at least it’s in keeping with its colour-, it means that the group of muscles controlling my speech also moves a little different to someone without CP, so as a result my speech is a little impaired. This aspect in particular I do find hard sometimes even now, though my speech as improved a lot. Whenever I get into a fluster I try to spin my perspective to something more helpful and a little more positive- not many folk can get to be heard twice or more!!!
It is so so important for people with CP or with any other obstacle, for that matter, not to be defined by them-it is something you HAVE it is NOT you!!! The worst but empowering, in retrospect, stages CP is when one is a child and a lot of doubt is around about their abilities. My parents were told I would never sit up, when I was very young, but a few years after they were told this I could even take a few steps. All the ‘no’s’ I got given about being able to achieve certain things I was , with the support of my family, able to show to myself that I could. It is sooo essential to only have those around you who believe otherwise, who believe in you. With this, another thing to remember is that no matter what anyone says you can turn around and write your own story!! You can rebrand parts of you challenge to make it a little easier to manage or comprehend. For example if I’m walking with someone and happen to stagger, I may say something like “Yep, I’m showcasing my dramatic ballet again.’ By doing/ thinking like this it make things a little lighter. Or if I am having a day where I feel that I am going a little more slowly, I try to remember that everyone0 is meant to go at their own pace as a streak of comparison tries to creep in! Life hacks are sometimes just needed!!
Over the last few years since writing to you, I have become more open and been able talk more easily about my CP. In addition, I have also been able to learn things about CP from others that have resonated with me. Even though there are many down sides to social media, this is a big up; connecting with others who have experienced similar things to you is invaluable and, furthermore, you feel less alone. Days such as these are important as it highlights and builds awareness around a particular cause or condition of something that one may know little about. Writing parts of this has been hard. There are areas of my disability I still find difficult to express. But this is another vital factor about awareness days- they can be reflective and as a result alleviate some heaviness around certain thoughts.
Putting together my outfit for CP Awareness Day has been so very fun and this is how life usually can be, which can be easily over looked. Days like today, though it brings about awareness about a condition, they also allow one to realise that there is a lot more to a person than their diagnosis!
Here’s to CP Awareness Day!
All my love XX