CW: Suicide & mental health issues:
The month of September is dedicated to suicide prevention. Disabled persons confront additional challenges such as systemic ableism, a higher likelihood of poverty and isolation, and higher rates of chronic pain, all of which contribute to poor mental health. The isolation because of my CP is worse than the physical symptoms at times.
September is also my birthday month. Ever since I turned 18, the month of my birthday has been a difficult time for me. Birthdays are no longer about parties and cakes. I always feel extra anxious and sad around my birthday.
I’ve written about the fact that I feel left behind before. It’s hard to watch my peers be able to get jobs and internships without fear of how employers will see them. Some job applications explicitly ask if applicants have a disability. Cerebral Palsy is not a disability that I can hide, so I like to tell people right away. I am not ashamed that I have a disability, it is a part of who I am. It began to feel like I would never find a job.
I have been looking for a job for almost two years now, and I’m still unemployed. I have been rejected by all different kinds of employers, from Wendy’s and Target to Amazon and Dunkin Donuts. Often employers want to interview me until I disclose my disability. They don’t even want to interview me after I disclose, regardless of whether or not I can do the job.
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.
I’ve often thought about having children later on in life as well. I do wonder if society would deem me unfit for motherhood because of my Cerebral Palsy. My biggest fear is that my child would resent the fact that they had a disabled mother. I wouldn’t be able to go down slides with them or pick them up if they fell. However, just because I have CP doesn’t mean that I cannot raise a child if I so choose. I may have to find creative parenting solutions, but that is fine with me.
Ableism and its impacts on the adult world have made me feel unwanted and unworthy in this world. This mindset has led to severe depression. I’m working on seeing the value in myself because everybody is worthy and has something to contribute to society.
LaMotte, Sandee. “World Suicide Prevention Day: Here’s How to Help in 2021.” CNN, Cable News Network, 10 Sept. 2021, http://www.cnn.com/2021/09/10/health/world-suicide-prevention-day-2021-wellness/index.html.