Never give up by Jeanesse Abela
Jeanesse Abela, who has cerebral palsy, explains how some of the biggest challenges she faces are related to accessibility and societal attitudes. Despite the obstacles, she is not about to give up – ever
Living with cerebral palsy (CP) is very challenging as, unfortunately, it is a condition which can only be managed with therapy at a symptomatic level. From a day-to-day perspective, life with CP means barriers, obstacles and frustrations, mostly because ordinary tasks which everyone else takes for granted are especially difficult for us. Even though at a societal level things have improved over the years, there is still so much more that could be done to simplify our lives and help us feel more integrated and independent. Since childhood I did my very best to live a full life and fulfil most of my dreams, thanks to my loving family’s support as well as that of a number of close friends, colleagues, employers and other good souls I’ve met along the way, who have believed in me and helped me in one way or another.
With age my disability only got worse, my muscles are weaker, so I have to constantly change my lifestyle and adapt to my new reality. Additionally, due to a herniated disc in my neck, I lost my ability to walk independently. This was a major blow and very hard to accept initially, particularly because I became even more dependent on others. Despite all this adversity, I never stopped fighting against all odds and strive to live my life to the fullest. I am very active on social media where I try to encourage other people not to give up easily.Most of the challenges I face are related to accessibility, as it is a huge struggle getting out and about in my electric wheelchair. Another challenge which gets to me is the fact that due to my speech and hearing impairment, people have the tendency to treat me like a child and prefer to address my carers instead of me directly. Not everyone understands me when I speak and that is quite frustrating. However, I always try to find a way to show people what I am capable of and that I appreciate being talked to directly and treated equally. Some people tend to judge the disability first and not the person’s character. They also tend to think that anyone with a physical disability faces the same challenges or has the same limitations. Everyone is unique and has different needs, meaning that we are in the best position to communicate what is best for us and should be actively involved to shape policies which affect our daily lives and future.
My message is to never give up. We have only one life and we must live it to the full, no matter what it throws at us.