Cerebral Palsy doesn’t just affect my physical health; it also affects my mental health. According to a study published in The Scientific World Journal, mental health problems are common in children with cerebral palsy or other neurodevelopmental disabilities. According to the study, 40 to 50 percent of school-aged children with cerebral palsy have emotional and behavioral issues. One out of every two children with CP meets the criteria for a psychiatric diagnosis, with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) being the most common.
In my experience, CP has been a contributing factor as to why I developed depression. I didn’t start to show severe symptoms of depression until 2019. However, with ableism rooted so profoundly in our society, questioning my worth started much earlier. When I was in elementary school, I fit in pretty well, although I was bullied some. I was invited to birthday parties and had friends come over to my house. In middle and high school, I felt isolated and left behind. When I was a sophomore in high school, I remember the jealousy I felt towards my peers who could get their driver’s licenses and work part time. I wanted to be just like everyone else. I began to feel like I was less worthy because I didn’t have a driver’s license or a job. While my peers were wondering about the parties being hosted on the weekends, I was busy wondering if I would inconvenience my aides by asking to go to the restroom more than once.
Upon graduating from high school in 2018, I felt more left behind than ever. Socially, I feel more left behind than ever before. Many of my peers are in a serious romantic relationship or even married. For most of my life, ableism has made me feel unworthy of having a romantic partner. I wouldn’t want my partner to think of me as a burden.
Given that my partner would have to help me with specific tasks like driving and cooking, I wouldn’t want them to become sick of me and my needs. I wouldn’t want them to end up feeling like my babysitter. I’ve always wondered what I’d be able to contribute to a romantic relationship if I were to pursue one which is a reason why I am not interested in dating someone at the moment. I’d want the relationship to be equal. Although I am limited physically, I’d like to think I could still contribute to a relationship. A lifetime of ableism has led to severe depression and questioning my worth daily. I’m working on seeing the value in myself because everybody is worthy and has something to contribute to society.
Bjorgaas, H. M., Elgen, I., Boe, T., & Hysing, M. (2013, April 3). Mental health in children with cerebral palsy: Does screening capture the complexity? The Scientific World Journal
Retrieved from: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/tswj/2013/468402/
Continue to see your worth. You are worthy, and you bring joy to so many.