Monday, 27 August 2012

My Disability

Today's post is a very different one. It's one that I've been debating about making for awhile now, but since it's not something that I willingly speak about on regular basis (if at all) I was a little nervous and unsure. Whenever people ask me about my disability I normally respond with 'Oh, my left side doesn't work properly. It doesn't matter.' I think that, in many ways, it's good for me to actually sit down and talk through it on here so it becomes less of a clouded issue and one that I don't feel the need to avoid as much. Since I'm planning on doing a few posts that will related to this (I don't want want to do an outfit post for example and worry that I'm hunched over, wonky or standing on my tiptoe) I decided that it would be better to explain it all in full, and it might give me the confidence to actually speak about it more often.

I'm adding a page break as it's a long one!


I have mild cerebral palsy to my left side. I was born three months early, weighing two pounds. I diagnosed with CP after having a brain scan shortly after my birth. My left side is considerably weaker and I have muscle spasticity, which causes them to tighten. My left leg is also shorter than my right leg, so I walk with a limp and on my tiptoe of my left leg. Winter months are the most difficult, my leg tightens and goes numb in the colder months, and it hurts. My balance isn't great either, and buses and stairs are a bit of a challenge (especially since you're supposed to walk on the left side of stairs when I have to walk on the right to hold the banister...it causes some issues in crowded stairways!) and I tire very easily. My co-ordination isn't great, and I have very slow reaction times (which is the reason why I struggle with driving). I also have a mild stammer, but I'm not one hundred percent sure if that is actually related to my CP or not.

 In my younger years I used to have to wear a splint on my leg everyday and had to go to regular physio. I was very young when I had to do this (I moved onto a night splint as I got older), so it never really occurred to me that I was in any way different from the other children at school. Thinking back, it was probably the splint that made them realise that I was different, but I never thought about it. All I remember about my splint is thinking that it was irritating, it would rub on my ankles and make my leg hot in summer. My parents say that it used to amuse them because in the middle of the night they'd hear the sound of me undoing my velcro straps and then a big thud as I launched my splint onto the floor. Needless to say I was very relieved when I no longer had to wear one!

I have always taken a dislike (to say the least) to school situations. Other people seemed to think that because I was disabled I was also mentally handicapped. They'd say things that 'Are you alright?' and be hugely patronising about everything I said or did. I'd reply with 'Yes, why wouldn't I be?' it used to infuriate me that some of the same people who would stand there and patronise me weren't exactly the most intelligent people in the bunch, and if they'd actually taken the time to ask me about my disability instead of presuming they'd have known. It was only when I was around 15 years old and the time that we received our first lot of GCSE results that they realised that actually, I'm not that different. They would still say things like 'What does it feel like to have what you have?' and I'd reply with 'What does it feel like to not have this?' This is my normalcy. I don't know anything else, and I don't feel different in myself.

I had to go physio until I was 12, when I went for a full body x-ray to see if I was eligible for a leg lengthening operation. This was the point when I was told that I had stopped growing. I'm 4"11. At the time I was already considerably smaller than everybody else in my class, and since I have a habit of looking on the negative side of things more, I was initially very upset. I felt like I'd spent my life trying to reduce the impact that CP has my life, and it felt like all my efforts had been for nothing, because, essentially, in the end it had impacted my appearance and I felt like I would always have to be explaining to people why I was so tiny.  It was silly and in many ways quite vain. Of course, now I know that there are lots of people smaller than I am and it doesn't really bother me any more, but at the time I think I cried for a week. On the plus side it meant that I didn't have to have the leg lengthening operation, and in the end I chose not to.

I don't feel that CP has negatively impacted my life. This is my normalcy, and while I do wish that I could wear heels or be a few inches taller or not have to struggle on buses, I'm fine with it. There's no point wondering about something that can never be. It hasn't affected my education (I left school with 6A*s, 3As and 2Bs and I am now at university studying English) and my real friends don't even think about it because they accept me for who I am. People who haven't been kind about it aren't worth my time. There are much worse things to have out there, and I absolutely do not feel at all sorry for myself. If anything, I am very grateful that my condition is what is and that I'm actually here to speak about it. As I've grown older I've been less inclined to avoid my disability and instead have accepted it for what it is. After all, I think it's made me who I am today, without it my life would have different, but I wouldn't be me.

I've never actually looked into the science of my disability, mainly because it has always been there, and I've never really felt the urge to look into it. The way that I see it is that I have this condition and I will always have it, and I'll deal with it the best that I can. Sure, some people don't quite understand but I'm always happy to clear things up, and it's nice when people ask me genuine questions about it instead of skirting around the issue or wondering. I'm not offended by people asking questions, I appreciate their honesty. 

This post by no means covers my disability. I'd have to write several very long posts in order to go into detail, and there's some issues that I have that I'd rather not speak about on a public platform like this. But overall I'm not embarrassed and I'm entirely comfortable with who I am. I hope that this post cleared up some things about me!

If anybody has any questions about this or anything else, feel free to ask me! I'm always open to questions. 

15 comments:

  1. I really admire your honesty and courage to write something so personal. You're an inspiration, it happens all the time where you see people letting their disabilities define them, but you've refused to feel sorry for yourself and that's extraordinarily brave. While I can't understand how much it must affect your everyday life, I appreciate your positivity and I'm so glad I read this! Schools are the worst places for judgement and for people to assume they're better than you, so I can imagine that must have taken its toll on you, but well done for staying strong! Thank you for the post! Xxx

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    1. Thank you lovely! I don't really see myself as being at all different from everybody else really! I just felt that I needed to speak about it on here to make a lot of other posts I want to do easier. School was difficult in lots of ways (I went to quite a bad school) but it definitely gets better! Thank you!

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  2. I absolutely love when fellow bloggers write such personal things about themselves, especially with things like this. It proves that you're human, like the rest of us! This is so incredibly brave and beautiful to read, and very inspiring! I absolutely love that you own yourself, and you haven't let others define you!
    Well done for speaking out, it just takes on brave lady like yourself to make other girls who may be in similar situations realise it's ok to be yourself and not see yourself as "different!"
    Thanks for posting this! :) xx

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    1. Thank you so much! I don't really see myself as being brave, it's just something that I have and live with. :) We all have our demons I suppose! Talking about it is definitely helpful in taking steps to being happier in yourself, and I'm pleased that I've done it!

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  3. I had noticed you mentioning your disability in a few posts before, but I didn't really think much about it! I'm glad that you wrote this post (it *is* very brave of you!), having a disability shouldn't be something that you feel like you should avoid or feel uncomfortable talking about. Like you said, it's your normalcy, and we all have our own things to deal with, it's fantastic that you haven't let anything get you down or hold you back! And I for one can't wait to see some outfit posts, I love nosey-ing into peoples wardrobes! ♥

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    1. I couldn't remember if I'd mentioned it before not! It's a lot better to get things out into the open, it stops it becoming a taboo issue. I definitely plan on doing some outfit posts, not sure when though! :)

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  4. Thanks for opening up to us! You're so brave! We all have our demons to fight, and most of the time people just dismiss and think, eh. But you have been so amazing positive about your entire history, and nothing has stopped you from being who you are today - so that's something I'd love to learn from you :D I was struggling with depression and at some point contemplated suicide but I guess I got stronger over the summer. This winter/spring was my longest and darkest but I found inspiration from bloggers like you to start writing, and it has helped significantly. So thank you so much! One day, I might be as courageous as you x

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    1. Thank you lovely! I'm sorry to hear about what happened to you, sending lots of love your way! Blogging definitely helps build up your confidence and it really is good to gets things out into the open.

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  5. just sending some love! your so brave and inspirational!

    lotta love hanna

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    1. That's really nice of you to say , thank you!

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  6. I found this such an interesting read & think you are wonderful for writing such a personal post.
    Would love you to check out my latest outfit post :)
    Happy Tuesday Hun xoxo
    http://www.intotheblonde.com/

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  7. My sister has the exact same disability as you! This was such an amazing post to read and I love it when bloggers feel they can be very open with their readers.
    I've just followed your blog and have realised you're also at the same Uni as my brother and in the same year! Spooky eh?
    Georgia xx
    My Blog: For the Love of Thrift // UK Blog

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    1. It's interesting actually, I've never met anybody personally with the same disability as me but since I've started my blog I've met several! It has really helped me to be able to speak to other people with similar experiences and circumstances.

      Thank you for the follow lovely! I'll go and have a read of your blog now! Haha, it's a small world isn't it?! What course is he doing?

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    2. That's really good you've found other people who are goig through the same thing!
      Thank you and he is studying Mathematics. You're courses sound really interesting too! x

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