About a month ago I was told I had social anxiety and it is clearly caused by my mild cerebral palsy. As my cp affects my speech slightly, among other things – such as my startle reflex and my poor motor skills, I was constantly stared at and sometimes made fun of. I will always remember this young girl who was about 4 or 5 at that time, I must have been 8. Anyway, we were at the beach and she overheard me while I was talking to my cousin. “She talks weird” was what she told my cousin when I was RIGHT BESIDE her. I had to keep it in at the time and deal with it. However, these words really tear my heart apart as there is nothing I can do about the way I speak – although when I was younger my speech was worse.
At the beginning of this year was when all those ‘saddening’ memories came back. I sat alone in my room and cried my heart out – wishing I could speak like other people and why I spoke differently. Here, I wished I never had cp and was constantly asking myself the question ‘why me?’ I even had extreme thoughts of which I would never have thought of before this. You can probably figure it out! Thankfully, my mum noticed early enough to get me some help.
I was offered the opportunity to see a psychologist – at the beginning I was worried about going as I didn’t know what to expect. My first appointment was a little awkward as I wasn’t quite familiar with the situation and I couldn’t express all my feelings openly yet. However, appointment after appointment I became much more open with my therapist as I knew that all she wanted to do was help me – and was not going to judge in any way. After sharing my thoughts and worries, she came to the conclusion that I have social anxiety.
This is true as I am incredibly self-conscious everywhere I go. When I am in a big group of people and asked a question, I instantly sweat, my body goes all shaky and I choke on my words – with the addition of the ’embarrassing’ unwanted actions that cp brings. This makes me feel weak and intimidated by society as I can’t control the way my body moves – as much as I want to. In order to avoid these social situations, I tend to hide away in my room, but I am working towards getting rid of that anxiety and shyness together with my therapist.
I am so glad I made this step in my life because, slowly, I am overcoming my social anxiety. If I hadn’t gone, I would have been stuck in my house all day and would have never had the courage to expose myself to society, Thanks to the support of my psychologist among many other people, I am slowly beginning to accept myself for who I am and view life with a positive perspective – some days more than others, but hopefully I’ll get through it!