Another year, another celebration day approaching. Something which used to make us run for the hills – obviously not literally. Something which would have us subconsciously quaking in our boots – literally; nine times out of ten we’d fall over. I never saw the point in celebrating World Cerebral Palsy Day. Why would you celebrate your disability on 6th October? Having CP isn’t something to get the banners out for. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t mind having you as part of me; we were stuck with each other anyway, so neither one of us could mope about it. It was what it was and all we could do is play the cards we were dealt. But there was no need to make a song and dance about it. You gave me to left, dysfunctional feet anyway.
I always thought I was okay with you. Out of everything, you were the one thing I’d 100% accepted. I’d laugh at the ridiculous situations you put me in; like the countless times we’ve not quite made it to the toilet, or the times we’ve been stranded in the most peculiar places. No two days were (and are) ever the same and you made my life more than a little bit interesting. We’ve created a backlog of tales which started with the line; “The one with…” and ended with a catastrophic disaster. The basics in daily living are things you managed to make difficult. On how many occasions have we found ourselves with our head in the armhole as we get increasingly tangled up in a jumper? We get out of bed every morning and are never quite sure whether coordination and mobility have left the building. And we’re the messiest eater the world has ever seen.
These are trivial moments. The ones we laugh about as we’re lying on the floor after another manoeuvre went wrong. In all honesty, though, I think I spent many years feeling bitter towards you. I wanted to be a ballet dancer when I grew up and you made that impossible. You made it so much harder to fit in because people always saw the wheelchair before they saw me. The amount of energy I’ve spent trying to break through those barriers with you dragging me down is unreal. I had to have someone tag along with me because there’re steps and inaccessible toilets everywhere. Just hanging out with my friends had to be thought out in advance due to care schedules and logistics. Essentially, doing what I wanted to do was a no-go.
It was all so draining. Gradually you wore away my sanity, stole my potential and fed from my creativity. But what could I do other than smile, get on with the show and avoid anything you had to offer?
Last year, it all came to a head. For sure, the route I had chosen to take was at least in the realms of where I needed to be, but still. I inevitably reached the same tedious, impassable road. In turn, I experienced what I now refer to as my quarter-life crisis. The world was going to end, and I didn’t know what to do about it – we’ve always been dramatic! Everything I’d tried in the past hadn’t worked, so the only thing left to do was to stop.
It was during my month-long life sabbatical that I had an epiphany. In my mind, I had two strengths to work with. The first was that I could string a sentence together. The second was you. As much as I’ve just moaned about you, CP, I can’t deny that you’ve given me an outlook on life which is unique. Why not combine the two? What did I have to lose?
As I wrote, I gained a sense of control I hadn’t had for the best part of a decade. With every Written Wheel blog, in which I told the craziest tales, came a freedom and with this came a creative spark that rapidly grew. A few months down the line and I had a new-found confidence, independence and desire to achieve. I knew I had the foundations of something special and I was excited to see where that would take me.
And then the doors of opportunities flew open in their dozens. From business ventures, to job offers, to working with charities that have great potential – it was all mine for the taking. I’ve met some amazing people with a drive to make a difference who have given me their wisdom and enabled me to do the same. Without wanting to sound too hippy, the stars are aligning and living with you, CP, has never been better.
Jo is a blogger and writer who lives with Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy. She has recently become a Trustee for us and is keen to raise awareness of our work. Jo has a passion for helping anyone with the condition and has a desire to make a difference.