Cerebral Palsy and Chronic Illnesses

Society has shaped us into thinking that “normal” is good. It’s good to bottle up your emotions. It’s good to want to be like everyone else. Right? Not at all. It’s time to listen to the standards you have for yourself, not the ones everybody else sets up for you.

Part I: Diya

“As a kid I was very reserved. I would wonder if I could keep up with the other kids. I would want to play the physical games the others would play.” Diya is a junior in high school that has cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a collection of disorders that affects one’s movement, muscle tone, and/or posture. It is caused by the abnormal development of the brain or damage to the developing brain. Diya was introverted as a child, which made it harder for her to make friends. Diya thought that her disability was focused on everything that she couldn’t do. “As I grew older and found the right friend group, I realized that some of the better things happen in good conversations.” Learning that although she couldn’t participate in all of the physical activities but still find a friend group perfect for her made all the difference. Diya embracing her cerebral palsy was a direct result of her maturing. “ It’s not really that much of a stressor once you adapt and know exactly what you want from it.”

“I know I will have to work harder for certain things, like I know that they are doable and that they are attainable. Yet, some things just seem out of reach and I have to struggle to get there.” Diya is not defined solely by her disability. She is a great friend to have around with quite a unique, snarky sense of humor. Once you get to know her, you can see that past her introverted exterior she is a fun-loving person! Diya cares about the relationships with those positive beings around her. Along with this, nurturing a positive relationship with nature is of utmost importance to her. Diya is an amazing young lady with a drive to fulfill her own dreams. “I definitely want to finish high school and attend a four year college, possibly pursuing something in business, law, or English.”

“ I realized that I can do alot of things that others can’t do. We shouldn’t compare ourselves to this standard and think that we owe it to the world to try and become the typical standard.” Throughout the years Diya has realized that everybody is different in their own way. So many people spend their time trying to become the standard that they forget who they really are. Everybody embodies different advantages and disadvantages. How can we possibly compare two separate entities that are each beautiful in their own individual ways? “ Yes, we might have physical disabilities, but that shouldn’t determine our social life or our ability to perform. Even with those physical disabilities, they shouldn’t be a roadblock for people.”

Part II: Dr. Arouba Kabir

“It gives me satisfaction each and every day. It gives me a new purpose and teaches me new things. “ Dr. Arouba Kabir is a therapist that works with a variety of people everyday. Surprisingly, her going into the therapy field was never planned. Kabir had studied journalism and psychology in college. She even had a job as a journalist at one point, but her health was deteriorating. Her cystic fibrosis had made her leave that job and start the journey of looking for a new one. “ I thought that therapy had given me a new life, and I realized that I could provide that to other people.”

“To be honest, if I told you that living with cystic fibrosis is easy, it’s not. It definitely takes a toll on my mental and physical health.” She feels like she wakes up and learns how to deal with it everyday. However, Kabir knows that it is essential to take one step at a time, which is why keeping a routine to debunk her everyday life has helped her in many ways. Keeping a habit of staying connected to a group of positive people she can talk to has relieved so much of her stress. “The support around me makes me feel much better.”

“If you are living with a chronic illness, accept your illness and be friends with it.” Accepting your illness is the first step you can take towards getting better because you are open to finding resources that will help you. You are your first priority. Getting support will only work if you want it. Taking care of yourself is a long road, but one that you will never regret taking. “You will see a difference. You will see that you are going to make it.”

Our differences are what make this world so interesting. The situations we all face in our day-to-day lives make up bits and pieces of who we are. Don’t spend a life full of regret trying to become the “perfect” person, because there is no single definition of perfect. You are only accountable for your own standards, no one else’s.