[fusion_text][dropcap]I [/dropcap]was always a little unsure of myself growing up, The CP was a a sore issue and a cause of some of my uncertainness. When I was younger I lacked the confidence in myself and I lacked the tools in which to gain that confidence in order to accept my CP. Because of this I often questioned myself or put myself down. I told myself I was not good at something or that I couldn’t do something, or even worse, that I was a burden. The only thing worse than this inner mental battling, was when others said the same things I thought in my head, to my face.

Before I was around 8 or 9 years old I can’t remember experiencing much in the way of intentional bullying, that started in the middle of elementary school and continued until the middle of high school, with middle school being the worst period as I can remember it.
In kindergarten and early elementary schools my classmates and other kids were more curious than anything about why I walked differently, so they asked me questions in the beginning, and those who were to shy to ask, just looked on with curiosity. Although the staring was uncomfortable, because it reminded me of my own fear of being different, it was something I learned to live with, and the quick fix was just to stare back sometimes. In fact, I still experience this sort of behavior today, even from adults, although I hope for their sake they are simply not aware of how weird they look by staring at me like that.

Reinforcing my own Negative Self Image

In the middle of Elementary School, and especially the beginning of Middle School, things took a turn for the worse unfortunately. It started with little comments here and there like “I don’t want a handicapped person like you on my team, we will lose” (When we were playing soccer), or “I am sure your have to ride a tricycle still”  etc. But some were worse and more abusive like “Look, there is the limp retard”, which they often times said while trying to trip me or making me fall. Naturally hearing those things hurt me, but the impact was multiplied because I had started thinking and believing some of the same things myself growing up, and hearing these things only reinforced in my mind that I was correct in thinking those thoughts.

I told myself I was not good at something or that I couldn’t do something, or even worse, that I was a burden. The only thing worse than this inner mental battling, was when others said the same things I thought in my head, to my face.

Most of it were verbal abuse, but there were also occasions were things got physical,  with people pushing me, or trying to beat me up. Luckily though, I had some really good friends, and I always tried to make sure I was around them when going out during recess etc. The bullies understood this obviously and therefore they tried to get in situations where they had me alone, and where I was far more vulnerable. Even though the teachers would intervene if they saw something concrete, very little actually happened to those doing the bullying, and it was difficult to prove anything, as they simply denied it if asked by the teachers. And I knew that if they know I had reported them, the payback would get even worse.

I will say however that the little comments were far more hurtful than being pushed to the ground. Since they reinforced my own negative thoughts, they could leads to bouts of depression, anger and sadness in general, making life pretty dark at times. There were several times where I faked illness or simply told my parents I did not want to go to school, because I couldn’t take it anymore.

Luckily as I grew older, the bullying stopped, mostly because those who bullied had left or matured, but my low self esteem remained, and took me years to shake off, and it took a year long depression and turning that around until I finally started accepting myself and the CP as a part of me, and not something to hate or distance myself from. If you want to read more about my tips on how to do that, have a gander at my “Live in Harmony with your CP” and “The Mental Challenges of SD” posts.

Looking back at this now here is a few things I’ve learned about Bullying and Cerebral Palsy, that I hope may benefit others:

1. If you or your child is going through some of the same things now, its important to remember that it is the bully who has a problem, not you. People who prey on others like this, usually have some problems themselves, since they feel the need to pick on other people to assert themselves in someway. Whilst I understand that is of no direct use to you in such a situation, it is in an important aspect of it all to remember. 

2. If you have some good friends, or other people around you like family who you find strength and support in, try to talk to them about it, and try to see the value in having those people in your life who care about you, rather than the bullies. 

3.  If the bullying goes on in school, try to seek out those people who can do something about the situation, like teachers etc. 

4. Know that you are not alone. When you’re being bullied you can feel pretty lonely and abandoned, but you are not. There is nothing wrong with you, there is something wrong with their behavior. 

5 .Work on accepting yourself. Whilst that is harder when you are being bullied, it is absolutely crucial in my opinion that you always work towards acceptance of yourself and the CP fully. The CP is not your enemy, use it to your benefit, learn from it and grow as a person.

As usual I would greatly appreciate if you pressed the “Share” button below and shared (and also liked this article( if you found it helpful! Thanks so much! 🙂 Be sure to comment and share your experiences as well!

 

Cover photo courtesy of mikdam @ iStockPhoto.com

 

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4 Responses

  1. Very well written, Alexander! I am 69 years old and I have SD too. I have had a very good professional and social life. We didn´t have such a lot of technical aids and assistancd when I was your age but we had jobs, so in some way it was easier not to live a CP-life. When I, at the age of 10, was transferred to an ordinary school, the headmaster introduced me as “the little CP-girl”: My answer was: “That´s not my name!” I have a brother who is nearly 2 years younger than me. My family was a great support to me and I always had a strong self confidence. If somebody tried to bully me I would find a way to talk to that person or – if he/she went on – find a way to bully the person back until he stopped! My parents always told me that my SD would make my life hard and that I had to be strong, never use my disability to make people feel sorry for me…

    1. Thats a very inspiring story Roesie, thanks for sharing! It seems to me you have handled the CP well in your life. I am an only child so I did not have a brother to back me up, but I had good friends that would stand up for me if I needed it. 🙂

  2. Thank you for sharing this Alexander. I love reading your posts. I am a mom of a 4 year old precious boy who has sd cp. Bullying is one of my biggest worries for my little man. I hope I will be able to help him and give him the tools he needs to cope. Is there anything your parents did that helped you? Or anything they could have done that you think would have helped?

    1. Hello Taryn and thanks so much for your comment! I’m glad you are enjoying the posts so far, I hope to keep providing the same quality and usefulness with my content in the future as well.

      Im not sure if my parents did anything in particular, when they knew I was getting bullied they made sure to contact the school to discuss the problem. Allthough I often times kept it hidden, because I did not want to burden my parents, and on some occasions even got in troubles over getting into fights with the bullies. My parents did teach me to speak up for myself though, so after not too long I went to the school administration usually, sometimes it helped, other times not.

      I think really the best tool you can give your son as he gets older is to learn to appreciate himself, and not feel bad about the CP himself, it won’t stop bullying, but it will help if/when he faces that or other adversity that may cause him to feel down about the CP, that is an added danger when you are living with something like CP I think.

      Hope that helps 🙂

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