Cerebral palsy is a physical disability that impacts coordination and muscle tone. But what about the mental health of someone who has cerebral palsy? How does the physical disability impact the mental state? Oct. 10 was World Mental Health Day, and in honor of that I would like to explore how cerebral palsy has impacted my mental health.
A few years ago, my attendant talked to me about her daughter who had cerebral palsy. She asked me if I ever took antidepressants for my mental health. At the time, I thought it was a surprising question, but now I understand it a bit better. (By the way, I have never taken antidepressants for anything so far in my life.)
Even though cerebral palsy is a physical disability, it is important to consider how the outside world can affect someone on a daily basis. Society as a whole hasn’t been very accepting of people who have cerebral palsy. Children and adults often stare at people with disabilities, and sometimes people with cerebral palsy are excluded from social functions based on their disability. Finding the right social group can be more of a challenge than the actual cerebral palsy.
Finding acceptance in school was very difficult, and not everyone was as accepting as I had hoped they would be. I would describe my school years as a fight because everything became a battle until I proved myself. I also found school to be socially difficult because children and teenagers struggle to fit in and find their own identity. By accepting me, in their minds, the other kids could jeopardize their own social status.
School and childhood can be tricky events for people with cerebral palsy. All your life teachers, therapists, support systems and families tell you that you can do anything that you set your mind to. Then you grow up, become an adult, and realize the harsh reality that employment isn’t as easy as you visioned.
You know without a doubt that you can handle the job role, but getting hired seems like an impossible task. Too often employers see the disability but not the credentials. It is high time that we change that line of thinking and show the world our value. But unfortunately, trying to get the job you want can be a toll on your mental health.
Someone with cerebral palsy may need physical assistance with dressing, using the bathroom, eating, showering, and hygiene. Needing someone in your personal business 24/7 gets tiring and can have an impact on your self esteem. I can’t express enough how much better I feel when I accomplish a task without assistance.
Mental health issues aren’t all negative when it comes to dealing with your disability. Choosing to feel through the pain and knowing that there is always hope makes a person stronger. Patience is needed on so many levels, such as waiting for your care or dealing with a difficult person. Patience also comes in handy when finding the right job, right teacher, or right relationship. Cerebral palsy gives someone a whole different perspective on life that no one else may have.
Talking out your mental health issues is the best way to find a solution. Never think less of yourself for talking to a professional to help sort things out. Always discuss how you feel with your doctor, and how the medications are helping (or not helping). Positivity and hope are excellent tools to help you deal with society and your disability.
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.