Twenty-one years ago today I was born, weighing one pound, 13 ounces, with a chronic illness — cerebral palsy. Today, my mom found a batch of old photos of me and I could see the ebb and flow of growing through my chronic illness. There were scenes from times of extreme highs, but also pictures of me smiling in moments I know were extreme lows.
It was interesting to think about the way I viewed my body in these photos. There were times I knew I was very content with my body, and felt so looking back as well. But there also were times I knew I was very, very unhappy with my body. Looking back, I now can appreciate the way I looked considering what I was going through at the time. I was saddened to think that in some of these photos I was filled with so much self-hate, and all I wanted was to be “thin” again.
I realize now that I looked just fine in those photos. (It’s bittersweet because as I write this I’m struggling with the same body issues, alongside my health.) Looking back, the lessons I learned during that time and all of the things I overcame mean more to me than my appearance.
It’s so hard in today’s world to accept yourself, no matter who or what you are. That’s so sad. In many ways people are more open about their struggles with themselves, yet it seems harder than ever to get help and find support when you need it. That’s left me very confused lately.
I’ve been forced to focus on my physical health now for the past several months. Gaining control of my body again has been at the front of my mind. But in order for me to do that I had to get my mental health in order. I don’t know which part of the mental health process was the hardest to accept — admitting I was struggling with anxiety, asking for help, or getting help. It has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. It’s a battle I want to be open about because I know so many of us are struggling, but it’s hard to find the right words to do so.
Despite the fact I’ve been in a fistfight with my anxiety for the past few months, getting on medication was one of the smartest things I’ve ever done. Bad mental health takes such a toll on your physical health. Not only have I been struggling with my illness, but I’ve had a sinus infection for more than a month and it will not go away. I’ve been on several rounds of medications for this and I hope I’m finally heading in the direction of getting better for the holidays.
Anyway, the message I wish to leave you with is to love and accept yourself. You will learn so much as you grow. Cut yourself a break and, above all, take care of yourself.
Note: Cerebral Palsy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cerebral Palsy News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cerebral palsy.