There’s a common, and undying, misconception that everyone with a disability suffers daily and suffers greatly. I don’t know when or how it started but I wish it wouldn’t be such a big focal point. I even took a class on the Catholic understanding of suffering in an effort to understand something about why suffering is such a focus for people.
And I have to tell you I just don’t get it, from the point of the sufferer or the observer of suffering, and I’ve been firmly planted on both sides, sometimes simultaneously.
One of the biggest things that annoys people in the CP community is that almost all press we receive starts with “suffers from Cerebral Palsy” or “has overcome Cerebral Palsy.” Now I can’t speak for everyone, although I’m not the first person to say this, but I do not suffer from Cerebral Palsy.
Yes, there are days when I am in constant pain, but I cannot call that suffering. Pain can be a cause of suffering but I wouldn’t go as far as to say this is the case here.
I’ve heard it said, I’ve also read it and said it, that “A disability doesn’t make someone feel disabled, the fact that no one thought to build a ramp does.”
Just what does that mean exactly?
Simply, or maybe not so, disability often it is not the disability itself that causes suffering. It’s other people’s perception of disability that creates the suffering.
I suffer (and so does the rest of the CP community) when people portray us as suffering. It’s not true for one thing and the fact that it’s not true just feeds into the misconceptions the able-bodied community has of the disability community.
Then there’s the idea that we can overcome Cerebral Palsy. No, Cerebral Palsy is part of who we are. You can’t overcome part of who you are, just like you can’t overcome having a certain hair or eye color. You can cover it up but it’s still there underneath.
The other thing is I don’t want to overcome who I am. Wanting to overcome who I am leads people to think that there’s something wrong with who I am and there isn’t. Granted that’s just my opinion.
I know I complain a lot about Cerebral Palsy not getting enough press so you would think I’d be happy to take what I can get.
But I’d rather the media get their facts straight before putting individuals with Cerebral Palsy into the spotlight.
We get so little attention that when we do it can be frustrating when what’s deemed as “facts” aren’t. We’re getting the attention but it’s not in the best way. Because contrary to what so many people seem to think now not all press is good press.
What I’d like to see is for more articles, videos, news stories, etc. telling the real story of those living with Cerebral Palsy. We’re just like normal able-bodied people achieving our goals and dreams, not suffering, not overcoming in spite of our disability.