Up until now I have only disclosed about my disability once, earlier this year. Finding My Shoes was a way of saying yes I have cerebral palsy but I am a lot more than that. I am a lot more than the results you would find on Google if you were to type in ‘cerebral palsy.’ I would be waving my hands over here hoping you’d asked me directly about CP and my experience, instead of using a one-dimensional medium to assemble a picture; this picture would be highly inaccurate-no definitely inaccurate-, sorry to insult your wild imagination.
I am going to add a new element to From This Window, sharing you my experience of CP. I’m not quite sure if this whole new element will work, or whether it will work at all, but I am excited to see how this path will unfold. I hope that through writing about my journey with CP I will be more able to speak about my disability more comfortably and maybe through this new dimension, other people with CP or with other obstacles can relate and together we can thrive; I’m all for dancing on my own but isn’t it exciting, sometimes, when achievements are shared and built with others!! Who’s with me?!!
I have previously described to you that for me CP is like a lifelong teacher, so I will now share with you some tips and tricks that I have learnt and still learning along way!!!
Laughter, laughter and, yep, more laughter. People that know me will know I love to laugh and try to seek fun wherever I can. I think this innate quality is what has kept me level headed with CP. Therefore in a situation quite easily seem bleak, which would allow them moody clouds to roll in, I try and see a gap between CP and me. So when I rock up in my wheelchair and meet people for the first time they might act rather strange, by this I mean they might speak in slow motion and being quite patronising as if they I trying to feed me I brain cell that I need to chomp on. Then I reply: It is so funny to watch their faces as I speak, as if I have just ripped up their treasured tales that they whole-heartedly believed about society. I almost tell them “yep, I have seen enough of you tonsils,” but that would spoil the fun! On a serious note though, it is these moments ,when you feel that you are being prejudge, is when you need to whack up that fun dial in your mind and take whatever shred of light you can. This extends to making fun out of yourself: instances where CP does it thing and throws in a few wobbles as I walk, I see it as a unique style of ballet (but my toes remain completely intact).I am not saying that it is easy because sometimes it is very hard, especially the days when you don’t feel as fabulous as you should; but please remember time will past and your time is to precious so don’t let anyone or anything influence your state of mind- remove the root of that weed!!
Stop looking for excuses. We are the best at making excuses for ourselves- we did invent it after all!! We blame anything we can as to why we can’t do something and then we believe in that blame and think that it is real and so it becomes, as we think, a legitimate reason for why we can’t do something. I hold my hand up and say I have excused myself from situations because I believed in the obstacle I put in the way; my speech is slightly impaired and used this to hide behind and asked who I knew well to speak on my behalf. But I wasn’t giving myself the chance to let others hear me, already thinking that I knew how and interaction would pan out: I would say something but they wouldn’t understand, then I would repeat what I said but they still wouldn’t know what I was saying, meanwhile my face would grow red with embarrassment. BUT this was my prejudgment. Slowly, with the encouragement of family and other people around me I grew my voice and realised that, on the whole, most people did understand me, in turn this increased me self-esteem. There are still time when people don’t understand words I say, but then I think how else I can phrase this to be understood. If that don’t work, I then ask my companion to repeat what I have said. There are still times when this excuse tries to creep in, but then there’s a saying “if you did it once you can do it again.” If that don’t talk to my excuse, I don’t know what will!!
Get creative! This tip follows from the previous. Having a disability means that sometime you have to take an alternative route to get to where you want to go-who wants to be a sheep anyway(not that I have anything against sheep)?! So, you knock down the walls of “I can’t,” step out of your comfort zone, move your sorry butt and make it happen!! For me this means thinking of the resources that I have and using them to my advantage. I am doing this right now by writing to you. I am combining my experience of CP with my passion of writing and motivating others and moving forward to be more honest and open with myself and others; by starting with something that is more natural to me, i.e. writing thoughts down, it could help me in others areas life and how I deal with situations. So, moral of the tip: use what you got!
Never feel guilty! Okay big, scary, deep, I-can’t-believe-I-could-actually-write-that-down tip!!! This is something I am still learning and maybe will always be a continuing lesson. As a result of my CP, I need assistance from others for everyday tasks; this reliance on others at times leaves me with a deep sense of guilt, knowing that they are giving up their time for me. I know the people around might think these thoughts are completely absurd and might even be hurt, which is not my intention at all and heighten my guilt in turn. But instead of continuing on this helpless and hopeless path, I can channel this guilt into gratefulness and being thankful that there are people in my life who help me and allow me to continue to make the most out of living!! This was very hard to write, but important to write-write out your demons and change them into helpful elves!!
Just forget about!! Urmmm…okay this might strange, giving these words half a sneer, but seriously dude, drop the resistance and just forget about it once in a while!! Whatever your challenge is you deserve to take a break from it and let something else capture your full attention! Don’t you ever just enjoy the freeing feeling of just being in the moment? Well, I love it! It‘s in these times when I am most myself! Disability is not a definition of me nor should I let it; it’s something I happen to have, just like I happen to be a girl. So I will go out and enjoy, singing and dancing the night away, I will face fears and go on cable cars, squeezing my friend’s hand in the process (for that I am very sorry), I will go and find nature hidden gems and admire something so much more greater and magnificent than ever imaginable and I will laugh because, Reader, life can be beautiful if you just let it and just be you, the fun-loving, inexcusable, creative, guilt-free, care-free you!!
These tips that I have learnt have helped me tremendously and keeps me moving forward. I hope these tips has also caused you something to think about; I would truly love to know what you think and maybe you have guidelines of you own you live by to help you, feel free to share this too!! Let’s thrive together!!
All my love XX