Living with Cerebral PalsyDealing With Feelings
Okay, you do things differently. You know that your disability interferes with your being able to do all the things that you want. Sometimes people look at and treat you differently than they do others. You feel angry and frustrated.
Perhaps the most important part of living with a disability is dealing with the feelings of anger, frustration, fear, or depression that you may have. But how you see yourself is a big part of how you feel.
So what can you do to build your self-esteem and change the way that you see yourself?
Plenty A positive self-image really depends on the support systems you build for yourself, on your being able to come to terms with the medical and emotional issues of your disability and on your own belief in your value and worth as a human being. Just like anyone else.
Here are some tips on creating a positive self-image for yourself and maintaining good self-esteem:
Teens with cerebral palsy face all sorts of obstacles on a daily basis. Seeing doctors and specialists, dealing with their physical differences, and coping with emotional stress may seem completely overwhelming and exhausting at times.
If you are feeling hurt, angry, afraid, or depressed, the most important thing to do is to communicate those feelings. Whether you use words, pictures, sign language, or a communication aid, it really doesn't matter. Just do it. You might keep a journal; you might talk to a friend you trust or a family member; you might see a counselor at school or a therapist your doctor recommends. Expressing your feelings and communicating your fears is the first step in creating a positive self-image of yourself as a person who can both face and overcome obstacles.
Find a support group
Once you have faced the things that are bothering you, you may also find that there are many others out there who share your issues, problems, and questions.
There are numerous agencies, organizations, and Web sites—many of which are listed in the Where to Go for Help section of this book—that can supply you with information on how to find support groups in your area, Internet discussion forums and chat rooms, and 800 hotline numbers. Often, sharing your experiences with others can help you not to feel so alone.
Having cerebral palsy does not mean that you cannot enjoy and excel in the same activities and interests as everyone else. So, participate! Get involved in extracurricular activities at your school. Find out what's going on at your local church or temple or mosque. Go out with friends to the movies or museums (public facilities, by law, are wheelchair accessible). Maintain your physical fitness with exercise. Participate in sports, and find out about the Special Olympics if you are competitive!
Remember: Your disability does not define who you are. You define you. So, create yourself! Make yourself the person that you want to be.
Be open and receptive to friendships with others. Make your own decisions—about the clothes you want to wear, the hairstyle you like, the music you listen to, and the foods that you enjoy eating. Make a list of the things that you love to do, and think about why you love doing them so much. And finally, make a list of the things that you would love to do (if you dared), and start working toward making them happen!
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