July is Disability Pride Month. Cerebral Palsy leaves me feeling anxious daily. Sometimes I worry about the physical symptoms of CP. Chronic pain is challenging to live with. I sometimes struggle to keep up with my friends because of fatigue and pain. Luckily, my friends are patient with me.
Society often leaves me feeling more anxious than pain ever would. Meeting new people is always difficult for me. My disability is very apparent. I don’t want people to treat me differently because of my disability. In school, I wondered if my teachers would embrace having me in their classes. I was very fortunate to have some excellent teachers.
Going places is tricky when you’re disabled. I do some research before going anywhere new. I wonder if I’ll even be able to get inside. Inaccessible places cause my anxiety to go through the roof. I don’t want to be carried inside because there’s no ramp or elevator.
I’ve never flown with my power wheelchair. I wouldn’t want my chair to be damaged by accident. My chair is very expensive and custom-made. I wish there were a better solution for flying as a wheelchair user. I don’t know if I’ll ever take my wheelchair on a plane. This is another instance where I’m anxious because of inaccessibility. Nobody should have to worry about their equipment being damaged if they take a flight.
Social anxiety is the toughest kind of anxiety for me. I’ve never had many friends. I can’t count the number of friends that have left me. After a particularly challenging friendship that ended abruptly last year, I’m unsure if I want to make friends anymore. I was distraught over the abrupt ending of this friendship. I thought I’d be friends with this person for years.
When I was invited to play cards at a new friend’s house, I was so nervous. Anxiety nearly stopped me from accepting the invitation. If I hadn’t gone to play cards that night, I wouldn’t have another friend. I feared he might talk down to me when he realized I was disabled. I was pleasantly surprised. He was very welcoming. I had a lot of fun that night.
People often stare at me when I go out. It’s as if they have never seen a disabled person before. Kids are often inquisitive and curious. They often think that my walker and wheelchair are toys. Adults are sometimes afraid or intrusive. I’ve had strangers pray for me in public before. This is always uncomfortable and embarrassing.
I’ve been looking for a job for the past three years. I haven’t found anything. I’ve submitted hundreds of job applications. Employers often don’t want to hire me when they realize I have Cerebral Palsy. Accommodations are often challenging to receive in the workplace. My request for a PCA in the workplace is often denied. I couldn’t work without having a PCA available to me. At this point, I wonder if I’ll ever find a job. In the future, I hope to be an author.
Cerebral Palsy has left me with anxiety which is terrible at times. It’s hard to live in a world that wasn’t made for people like you. Ableism is overwhelming and exhausting. Disabled people deserve to live life, and ableism makes it hard.
The last time I flew, Thanksgiving ’18, American Airlines broke my custom made $35k wheelchair and it took until March ’22 to get it fixed and then replaced. I’ll never put it on another airplane unless I am sitting in for each flight to my destination and back home.
I’m so sorry! I will never fly with my power wheelchair, because of that.
I haven’t flown since ’12 because I can’t
risk being stuck without my motorized chair. It is about time that airplanes are equipped to provide tie-down areas similar to my 15 year old ramp van or an accessible bus.