Bethany’s guest post is the 25th post in the segment on my blog, called “The Reality Of…” which gives others the ability to share their story and raise awareness of the disabilities, illnesses, impairments and invisible illnesses that they have.
Hello! I’ve never been good at introductions; what does one even say? It’s like those ice breaker games for school. I always crash and burn. For some reason, I’m even worse as an adult than when I was a child. But saying that, I guess I should start simple. My name is Bethany and I’m 22 years old. I currently live on the Gold Coast in Australia. However, I was born in England and lived there until I turned 13, at that point my family decided to migrate here!
I was born with a disability called Cerebral Palsy. This disability is a very common one, however, it’s extremely broad in both symptoms and the way it affects people. Cerebral Palsy forms when someone has any brain injury during birth, but that damage doesn’t get worse. However, the physical symptoms that occur as a result of the injury often do worsen.
For me, it all happened because I was born three months early. My lungs weren’t properly developed, and I didn’t get enough oxygen to my brain. This created holes in my brain. What that looks like now is a whole lot of complicated.
How It Affects Me
When it comes to Cerebral Palsy my symptoms place me somewhere in the middle level of severity in this condition. I spend the majority of my time in a wheelchair, but on a good day, I can walk with a cane for about twenty meters. Other than my legs I struggle with fine motor control, in my hands, specifically.
Unfortunately, that tends to mean that I can’t do some everyday tasks; such as, tying my shoelaces or chopping up vegetables. However, when it comes to symptoms, I think the worst would be the pain and exhaustion.
I have pain from my jaw, all the way down to my toes. Spasms fill my body, especially in my legs, back and hands. For those who don’t know what they are, the only way I can explain spasms are like this. Imagine a severe muscle cramp happening and then releasing, and then happening and releasing every five to ten seconds; that is what a spasm is.
Now imagine it all down your legs, back, chest, throat jaw and hands. That’s what it’s like to be me, except it never stops. It’s always there whispering behind the scenes, being the definition of chronic pain.
I know that all of these symptoms sound horrible and overwhelming, but it’s alright, I have learnt how to deal with it all. I mean trust me; I have my bad days, weeks and even months, but for the most part, the symptoms are okay.
What affects me the most is how people treat me. The majority of people assume that because I’m in a wheelchair, my brain doesn’t work.
Many times, I have been called a burden, a waste of space, disgusting and ugly. These people insist I can never live a good life. That I’m not smart enough or good enough. That I will amount to nothing all because my legs don’t work.
Ultimately, most people refuse to accept me and the rest of the disabled community. As I’m sure you can imagine, that takes a huge toll on my mental health.
I learnt to adapt to the physical struggles’ early on. I do the physiotherapy; I take the medications. I do what my body asks of me. But, trying to adapt above society, that’s hard. I’m still learning how to do that.
But, for me, I think it’s knowing that the people who treat me and others’ this way are wrong. It’s knowing that my value doesn’t come from people.
So far, I’ve adapted through doing activism and raising awareness and learning to accept myself.
Changing As A Person
My journey so far has been a long one. Over the last 22 years, I have changed a lot with my disability. I went from a girl who couldn’t do anything and believed all the lies that were around me, to someone with a science degree. To a person who has found a passion and true excitement for what lies ahead.
From someone who believed those who said I would never have any true friends or a future; to someone who laughs with people constantly, has a blog, a plan for a job, and a thousand more goals. This year, I have become confident in who I am, in my disability.
And finally the child who hated her disability now loves it so damn much. I have learnt that being disabled is okay and that there’s nothing wrong with it. I’ve discovered I’m not alone and that I have so much joy all around BECAUSE of my disability, not in spite of it.
I have allowed myself to open up to a world that many misses out on. One that is so beautiful and breathtaking. One I am so blessed to be a part of it.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I am so grateful for my disability. I’m so proud to be here and to be given this mission on the earth. All the pain is worth it!
My Favourite Superhero & Villain
As per the tradition of this blog let’s talk superheroes and villains! My favourite superhero is Iron Man, based on two reasons. The first is that I aspire to have his level of sass! The second is his intelligence. Can he please design me a wheelchair?! How kickass would that be? I would be winning at life so hard.
I’m also going to answer my favourite villain. I think it’s got to be Moriarty from Sherlock. I mean he’s completely crazy, but he is absolutely intriguing and hilarious – or at least the BBC version is! I just love him so much!
Thanks Bethany for sharing your story with my readers and me!