In my lifetime, I have crossed paths with people who were curious about my cerebral palsy, and of course, I gladly explain to them what cerebral palsy is and how I do not let my cerebral palsy determine who I am as a person.
I find it very easy to talk about my condition in a positive light, but the one thing that is very hard to talk about when it comes to my cerebral palsy is the fact I also have severe depression and anxiety almost every single day. However, I do not tell a single person about my anxiety and depression because of one thing: I do not want people to think I am “mentally unstable” since I have always been the type of woman who inspires everyone who meets her.
I can only imagine what people would think of me if I were to wheel up to them and say, “Hey guys, guess what? I have severe anxiety and depression, and I have to take pills every morning to keep it under control.”
I can practically see the looks on their faces. Now, they would be astonished by that news because I seem to be a happy-go-lucky person on the outside, but on the inside, I fight a constant battle trying to keep a smile on my face regardless of what I want to do.
On my hard days with anxiety and depression, all I want to do is sleep. I hope that by the next time I wake up, my cerebral palsy would magically go away, but I wake up to still find it and I ask myself why I was picked to be in this body.
As I look around in society, as I see people walk around, I desperately wish I could be like everyone else who doesn’t need to use a wheelchair to get around, or better yet, doesn’t have to go to so many doctors appointments, only to have doctors come up with the same solution: “Here, take these three times a day, and that should get rid of everything, Tylia.”
Every appointment, I find that one solution is every doctor’s solution. I find myself back at square one, being in my body and not knowing what the future holds for my thoughts. My mind begins to twirl like a dancing ballerina 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Meanwhile, my cerebral palsy is having the party of its life.
Every day, it invites muscle spasms, chronic hip pain, hamstring pain, migraine headaches and so much more. Then, they have a considerable party, doing the limbo throughout my body. Some days, my cerebral palsy even invites eye pain to the party.
This triggers my anxiety and depression the most because it is the constant reminder I am not like everybody else in society who is “normal.” I am not like most 24-year-olds who are away in college and can go out with their friends and party without a nurse assistant there.
Thinking about the things I’m missing makes me sad at times because I wonder how different my life would have been if I did not have cerebral palsy. I often wonder what it would be like to go to walk on the grass or just walk on the ground in general without having to use a wheelchair. These are all of the things I think about when I have days when I wish my cerebral palsy would go away.
However, then I remember I have to keep going and I have to remain strong, but some days it is not easy. I thank God I have writing to help me through this challenging time in my life.
Dealing with mental illness is not the most “natural” thing, especially when you feel as if you are stuck in one place and you cannot move. It is like playing Candyland, like when your gingerbread men get stuck on the “licorice spot.” That’s how I always feel with anxiety and depression, and it causes me to overthink my disability and what I can’t do.
Some of those things are walking on my own and going to the bathroom without assistance. I worry about the littlest things, like if I go somewhere with my friends, I worry about who will be there to take me to the bathroom, who will be there when I need assistance with my food at a restaurant, or whether the restaurant will bring me a kid’s cup instead of a to-go cup. Those are just the little things that trigger me at times because they are reminders I am different from others. Although I do not want them to trigger me, there is just something in my mind that always triggers me, and my anxiety starts up once again.
I know that sounds silly, but my anxiety and depression is a part of being me. There’s a part of me that wants to be like everybody else, but I know I could never be that person, and that is what gets to me the most. Just having to accept the fact I was made this way is hard, but thank God for writing; without it, my mind would always be a whirlwind.