Guest post from Chloe, a secondary school student who has mild cerebral palsy which affects the left side of her body. She has shared her story as part of our 100 days, 100 stories campaign.
When you are at school it can be hard to know what to say to people. People react to my medical list – which includes mild cerebral palsy – very differently, but this is what I want them all to know.
The worst thing about having a disability is that people see it before they see you – before they get the chance to know you. I haven’t even opened my mouth yet and I know they have preconceived ideas about me. But that’s okay. I guess if you have something different from others then it is bound to happen. I mean, the stares, they are normal. It’s not every day you see a splint. That’s part of human nature, I can live with that.
It’s the glares of disbelief that are upsetting. What you see is a tiny part of me. A tiny part of what makes me and my personality but also a tiny part of my medical list. Pain. Pain is invisible to the outside world, but perfectly visible to me on a daily basis. I’m a part-time wheelchair user. A reluctant part-time wheelchair user at that. I may joke and say “Oh, it’s because I’m lazy” but that’s probably because it’s easier. It’s easier than saying you are in chronic pain, no one wants to hear that, people just want to know things are getting better.
Can I just say, I hate using my chair. It’s the last resort. For me it traps me and can leave me out of control, shows I have given up and can’t go on. If I am in my chair it doesn’t mean that I can no longer walk. It means the pain has become too much to manage – like someone screaming in your ears. Yet I’m still expected to concentrate in lessons and work. It means that fatigue is swallowing me up and not letting go.
Throughout high school my dream was to be accepted because I didn’t see the point in changing for anyone. I believe I am very close to it and for that I am eternally grateful. However another one of my dreams has been to dance in the school show – something I am yet to fulfill. You see, I used to dance, before the diagnosis list got out of hand. In my earlier years I was shy and reserved, something that doesn’t really fit my personality anymore. But now the barriers include my pain, fatigue and reduced mobility. I guess it’s something else I need to come to terms with.
I am constantly reminded about how positive and smiley I am. I’d agree, I am. Although a smile can hide anything you want. It can also make things easier to deal with. Being happy is a lot more fun in my opinion, it also makes others believe that things are all good. I believe 100 percent that things could be worse. For me everything is normal. Normal is whatever you are used to. I also know it’s possible to live in pain and not just survive. It is possible to create the most amazing memories and achieve the highest possible.