Cerebral Palsy often times gives a person a guilt complex for needing help to do the things she wants and needs to do. The guilt complex can drive a person into depression and make her withdraw from her family and friends. It takes a strong network of family and friends to get a person from being trapped by the guilt complex.
For most of my life and still do sometimes, I have felt like a burden to my family and friends. Sometimes Cerebral Palsy feels like a hindrance, because it keeps me from doing what I want and need to do: feed my pups and myself, clean my house, drive myself to where I want and need to do, and [whatever “it” is] that I need to do.
As older I get, the less I feel like a burden and Cerebral Palsy is less of a hindrance. True, I still have to fight off the paralyzing feeling of being helpless when I am alone and need to do something ridiculously simple, like opening a pill bottle or filling my water bottle. I have learned to adapt and leave things for my personal caregivers to do during their shifts. There is no sense to become frustrated trying to do something my muscles refuse to do. It may even be something I can do, but for whatever reason I cannot do it in that moment.
I have learned a few ways and reasons to ward off the guilt complex:
- I am me for a beautiful reason. God created me out of his perfect image and put me here to carry out his plan. Until God calls me home, I will continue to do his work.
- I have a unique perspective on life to share with the world. No one else thinks the way I do; I have a unique voice. My thoughts, ideas, and opinion should and need to be heard, plus others really do listen.
- I am able and do far more than most adults. I do some amazing activities: cycle some 20 miles, workout, downhill skiing, paint, read, swim, fight for social justice, write, party, travel way too much, and more. I do just as much, if not more, as any other adult.
- I am counted and loved. I am an individual who is a mother to three pups, homeowner, daughter, aunt, niece, sister, social event planner, significant other, bestie, mentee and mentor, advocate, speaker, life-long learner, teacher, published author, and Christian. The list could go on, but you get my point: I am an individual who should be and is counted and respected. People love me for me.
- I am more than my Cerebral Palsy. Yes, Cerebral Palsy defines what I can and cannot do the “normal” way at any given moment, but I have learned adapt and prepare. What do I mean? My personal caregivers are in the habit of making sure my water bottle and daily pill bottles are filled before they leave. I have giant soap pumps in my shower, so I can bath independently. I pay bills online. I wear sport bras, elastic pants and skirts, stretchy (not big) shirts, and dresses. I can do a lot more once I adapt the activities.
- Above all else, I ask for help when I need it. It is important advocate my needs and desirers to others, because they do not know until I speak up. Dwelling on what I am not able to do does not solve the problem, but when I speak up others can help me and/or find a way to adapt it so I can do it. I truly have an amazing support system of family, friends, and colleagues.
I admit fighting against the guilt complex is no easy task and is a constant battle. However, it is a battle worth fighting, because I am an able individual with dreams and self-worth. And so are you.