I’ve decided to finally attempt writing about Cerebral Palsy (CP) for two reasons: the first being that last month was Cerebral Palsy awareness month, something I didn’t even know about and I have it! If that right there doesn’t tell me that it needs more awareness then I don’t know what does. The second reason is that I have found it really useful to connect with other people about this over the last year – it makes me feel slightly less alone, as before I didn’t know anyone else with CP. I thought if I found it helpful then maybe, just maybe someone else might too…
Being the organised person I am, I’ve now managed to be a week late to cerebral palsy awareness month 😅 but I’m here now so…
I have a couple of things I’d quite like to say: CP is different for every person who has it & for some reason I always feel a little defensive with this fact when I start discussing CP with someone. I feel like that’s mostly because there’s not enough awareness – which naturally leaves room for ignorance in its wake (including on my part, which I’m trying to change) & then of course prejudice.
Which brings me back to why I’m here, to use this opportunity to clarify some things (& in doing so I am strictly speaking from my own experiences, this of course maybe entirely different for another person with CP.) As a child I went through phases of barely being able to walk at all, but with a lot of hard work (from MANY a person!) & 29 scars later, I can gratefully say that’s not the case today. (Now please don’t get me wrong I’m not looking for pity in any way – BELIEVE me but, just to set the record straight, as such you’ll need a little context.) For me, my CP has been a pain in the butt at times, the worst being when I was led to believe that it meant it would not be possible for me to follow my dreams of being an actor. That hit me hard. But I’ve since realised that I’m happy in life when I know I’m giving it my all and then IF I don’t succeed… well you know what they say, try again, but at least it doesn’t hit as hard. So now I’m training to be an actor, something my 9 year old self would scarcely believe! On my first day of college I went for coffee with the other actors & mentioned outright that I had CP because I used to feel awkward when people asked me what was ‘wrong’ or if I was injured. Sometimes people ask me if walking hurts, the answer is yes – but it varies. Others ask why I’m not going out to meet them at the end of the day and the answer is that I’m tired. Everything I do takes twice as much energy as someone without CP, if not more. That’s all there is to it.
People ask me why I do a course that’s so physically demanding if that’s the case and my answer is that it’s never been a question for me. I would want to be an actor with or without CP; I have never found anything that speaks to me & who I am in the same way. 💚
I dont see it as a negative everyone has strengths & limits it’s what makes a person unique! (& also I’m a dab hand at adapting when I need to, if I do say so myself…) The only thing I’m not ok with is, if someone takes it upon themselves to assume I can’t do something. Please just ask! It wasn’t until a few weeks back when I was talking to an MT student, that I realised the rest of the college didn’t necessarily have any idea as to why I walk the way I do. For me it’s normal so, since that first day it never occurred to me that they or anyone else wouldn’t already know… (Naive I know.) Which is why I’d like to say I really am open about it & I’d much rather answer questions (as best I can) & raise awareness rather than make people feel like it’s a topic to shy away from. That way of living went out the window for me the day I decided to pursue acting & I’m honestly glad it did.
RJ Mitte (An actor with CP) inspires me. As a performer I hope to one day create work that has the potential to inspire others, as I have been. Writing more parts for actors with seen and unseen disabilities not just CP, so that no one has to ever feel like they’re not ‘good enough’ to follow they’re own dreams. So, all I’m saying really, is that (even disability or no) follow your dreams wholeheartedly & don’t listen to the voices that tell you, you can’t – especially when they’re in your own head. 💚💚💚
This is me when I was younger on the left and this is… also me on the right some years later. I found out recently that, they say you only have the first 7 seconds before someone has decided on their first impression of you – which I thought was interesting.
Hope you all have a lovely day, doing whatever makes you feel most alive.