Monday, 13 October 2014

My thoughts on 'The only disability in life is a bad attitude'.

*This is a little disclaimer to say that this post is only my opinion, and I would welcome a debate about it*

If you're not familiar with it already, there's a meme that floats about on social networking sites that exclaims that 'The only attitude in life is a bad attitude', and I've seen it create an impassioned debate about what this means to disabled people and non disabled people alike. It certainly seems to divide opinion. I'm firmly on the 'I hate it' side, every time I see it, I flinch.

 It's quite difficult to express exactly why I hate it so much but I'll try and explain my feelings as best I can. I identify strongly as being a young disabled woman. My disability certainly does not define me, but it's an integral part of my identity. It's part of who I am. I can't help but feel that when this quote is used,  its tantamount to saying that the disabled part of my identity does not exist, that 'people do not see disability. I was born disabled, but have not always identified as a disabled person. For many years, I struggled to accept the fact I was disabled. When I was a teenager I'd feel disgusted if people dared label me a disabled person, I felt quite ashamed. However, when I was an adult, I did eventually accept the fact I was a disabled person, but it certainly wasn't an easy process. I'm now totally at peace with being a disabled person, and I worry that quotes such as this can be used to dismiss the fact a lot of people are happy and indeed proud to identify as a disabled person.

The second reason I really hate this quote is that I actually find it quite disabilist. First, a bad attitude is not a disability and secondly, it erases the fact that disability does exist. It is an undeniable fact that I am disabled. I cannot use my left hand, and require daily assistance to do tasks that a two handed person does without thinking. This is not a pity party, but the reality of my situation. This is a small part of what my experience of living with a disability is like. If you tell me that the only disability is a bad attitude, you are in effect telling me that this part of my life does not exist, and you're also undermining what living with a disability is like. 

Finally, I don't really like this quote because I worry that it may encourage the shutting down of discussion of disability. To me, I feel that this meme is a bigger problem in that people chuck about these patronising sayings, in the hope that they will make us feel better about being disabled. I've seen it posted on support groups to try and inspire us to feel better about being disabled. To me, it has the complete opposite effect. It makes me feel bad about speaking about aspects of my disability that stress me out. I'm a realist, I will wholeheartedly admit that sometimes I feel incredibly negative about my hemiplegia. It's not often I feel that way, but I have days where it feels shit and frustrating. If I'm confronted with this meme on a bad day, it can make me feel that I should be quiet about my struggles. That it isn't 'normal' to have bad days, and that maybe I just have a bad attitude, and that I have no right to feel bad about my disability, or indeed that I don't even have a disability. I just generally think its seen as a social taboo to be negative about disability. It's actually bloody exhausting to be damn positive all the time. I think its healthy to discuss how frustrating living with a disability is, and we should not be shamed into feeling that negative emotions are insignificant and not important. I think its healthy to have an honest discussion, and to be real about things.

Anyway, I think I've ranted enough. As I said before, this is just my opinion, so don't flame me down! If you find the meme helpful, that is great for you, but I just wanted to share my perspective.


Friday, 25 October 2013

I've been wanting to write about my experiences of having both mental illness and a physical disability for some time but I've found it quite difficult to articulate what I wanted to say. I have cerebral palsy, which is predominantly a physical disability, and I also have anxiety and depression. Over the past year or so I've gained valuable insight into how both my physical disability and mental illnesses overlap and interact. I confess that I used to think that they were totally separate from each other and were two distinct problems. I've really come to understand that they're interlinked and do share a relationship. I'd like to share with you what I've learned. 

 The biggest thing I've realised is how the pain and fatigue I experience because of my CP impacts on my depression. I suffer from chronic pain because of my disability and experience a lot of fatigue and this really feeds a low mood, and also anxiety. I've found that since my GP has given me adequate painkillers my pain is a little bit under control so it's not hammering my mood as much. I think pain triggered my anxiety because I felt like it was spiraling out of control and so I was catastrophising. Now it's a little bit more controlled it's lessened my anxiety considerably. The fatigue is harder to manage because you can't just pop a pill and feel better. Instead, I've had to make myself realise and accept that fatigue is part of CP and that I'll just have to adjust my life around it. Rest days are just another form of treatment, like wearing splints etc. 

I do think being ill with depression really affected my ability to cope and manage my disability. I've only realised this since I've started recovering from depression. When I was really ill with depression, I thought goals since learning to drive, getting a job would be unachievable because of my disability.  Depression really hammers your self esteem and often makes you believe you can't achieve things. This is the case of people with depression who aren't physically disabled too. I can't deny that my disability makes goals more difficult to achieve, I need a lot of support and often have to find alternate ways of achieving them. Depression honestly destroyed my self esteem so much that I didn't have the ability to figure out how I could achieve things and I thought I was totally incapable. Looking back, it was quite distressing, as I've always been a determined, ambitious person, and depression masked that. I just felt like my life was going to be a failure. Take learning to drive for example, I know it will be more difficult to do, I will need adaptions etc. When I was really ill with depression my way of thinking was 'CP will make learning to drive more difficult, you will probably fail, so to avoid feeling like a failure, it's best not to even attempt to learn to drive'. I had completely written it off before I'd attempted it because depression eats at your self esteem. Since my depression has improved so has my approach to my goals and my way of thinking. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I feel like depression really impacted on my mental ability to adapt to the challenges of my disability.

I've spoken a few times about how people with cerebral palsy are at an increased risk of mood disorders, although the reasoning behind this isn't clear. I have come to accept that my mental health problems are likely just another part of my CP, and so I've stopped thinking of my physical disability and mental illnesses as separate entities. It's really helped me to accept my MH problems by viewing them as just another facet of my disability. My anxiety can definitely be attributed to my hemiplegia because I had behavioural and emotional difficulties as a child, which is a known complication of hemiplegia. I think my anxiety is just an extension of the same problems I had in childhood. Accepting my MH problems are part of my CP has really helped me manage them better because I've stopped fighting them and trying to 'cure' myself. Instead, I've concentrated my efforts on strategies to manage them better. I also view my MH treatment no differently to the treatment I receive for my CP.

 I do think these realisations are important in the sphere of my recovery and acceptance of both my physical disability and MH problems, and being able to move forward with my life. I think it takes time to understand how physical disability and MH problems interact, and by understanding them both better it makes them easier to manage. 

Thank you for reading,

Amy X 

Sunday, 13 October 2013

What Hemiplegia Awareness Week means to me.

October 14th-18th is hemiplegia awareness week. Hemihelp, a charity which works tirelessly to support families, children and young adults with hemiplegia, have a great series of initiatives this week designed to raise awareness of hemiplegia. As a person with hemiplegia, I feel it's only right that I add my two pence worth. I wanted to discuss what hemiplegia awareness week means for me personally. 

In case you're new to this blog, I have left hemiplegia. It is a type of cerebral palsy, which I was born with. Physically, it means I have zero function of my left hand, it's paralysed. I also have partial paralysis of my left leg which means I walk with a limp and walking is slow and painful. I also have reduced sensation in my left side (I can't feel my left arm burning when sitting in front of the fire). I also have kyphoscoliosis - abnormal curves in my spine due to weak muscle in my torso. My hemiplegia also has cognitive and invisible symptoms, I have lifelong anxiety (more recently depression) and visual perception difficuties, fatigue and spatial awareness problems. My hemiplegia is caused by brain damage to the right side of my brain. 

Raising awareness for hemiplegia is incredibly important to me. Hemiplegia is not an uncommon disability, it affects 1 child in a 1000. Chances are that you will meet someone affected by hemiplegia in your life. I also believe that if we want society to be more inclusive of disabled people and for disabled people to be treated equally, then awareness is key to making this happen. I'm aware that cerebral palsy has a lot of common misconceptions, and this has had a negative impact on my experiences. I've had people assume I have a learning disability once they hear of my cerebral palsy diagnosis. I've had people assuming I must use a wheelchair. Breaking down these misconceptions is important, because misconceptions and ignorance often lead to discrimination, intentional or otherwise. 

Another reason why I support a hemiplegia awareness week is that hemiplegia is a more complex condition than people first realise. So many people assume that hemiplegia is just a physical condition affecting the arm and leg. I must confess, that until I started talking to others with hemiplegia I didn't realise how complex it was. i just assumed my unseen problems weren't part of my hemiplegia and were just me. I think by having an awareness week that talks about the invisible symptoms we may help others with hemiplegia understand their condition better (and parents too). 

I would also like to use hemiplegia awareness week to talk about the psychological impact of living with this condition. I feel like sometimes it's not okay to say 'living with hemiplegia is tough'. I feel like you have to put on a front and pretend that it's easy. I want to bring a healthy dose of realism to the proceedings and put it out there that having good and bad days with this condition is perfectly normal and it's okay to talk about it. I feel this is really important from a mental health standpoint. I know that my hemiplegia and mental illnesses are inextricably linked. I'd be keen to open up discussions about this link, I believe that it needs to be talked about more. 

I think it's particularly important that adults share their experiences of hemiplegia. Currently, it's very hard to access healthcare for the ongoing needs that hemiplegia presents to adults. It's viewed as a childhood condition, most people are discharged from their specialists once they have stopped growing. Healthcare professionals largely believe that the condition remains static. In my experience, I've needed more treatment as an adult than ever as a child. I know my experiences aren't unique. So I do think adults with hemiplegia should share their experiences to change the perception that hemiplegia is a childhood condition. 

Lastly, participating in hemiplegia awareness week is an amazing reminder of just how far I've come with my disability. A couple of years ago I didn't know anyone with my disability. I never talked about my experiences with this disability to anyone. Now I am a proud member of Hemihelp and regularly talk about my experiences, helping parents and teens out with their questions and problems. I'm a trained mentor for Hemihelp and in the future I hope to be helping out young people adapt to the challenges living with hemiplegia presents. I've met people with hemiplegia, and I've made really good friends with a couple who I know will be friends for life. Talking to others with hemiplegia has helped me cope with this condition more than I can say. It makes living with it less socially isolating and more 'normal'. I'm particularly lucky to have become friends with Steph (twitter @steph1990m) we're the same age and our hemiplegia's are scarily similar, so she has become a great source of support. I wouldn't have these great opportunities and friendships if I hadn't of realised that it's a positive thing to talk openly about my disability. 

I think I've rambled on enough, but i just wanted to write down some words ahead of hemiplegia awareness week. If you have ANY questions about hemiplegia please feel free to tweet me (@thisisamy_)

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Things I have learnt about having cerebral palsy

October 2nd is world cerebral palsy day. I think this is a great initiative, cerebral palsy is the biggest cause of childhood physical disability. It affects more 17 million people worldwide. Yet, despite it being such a common condition, I feel that there's a lot of common misconceptions about cerebral palsy, and I think it's quite misunderstood among the public. As a young woman with cerebral palsy I feel that it's an endless learning curve. I am always learning new things about this condition and how to cope with it. 
(some general pointers about cerebral palsy (source - world cerebral palsy day)

Today I want to share with you some of the things I've learned about having cerebral palsy, just to show you the complexities of this condition, and to help others understand it better. 

  • Cerebral palsy is non progressive, but the physical symptoms of this condition aren't static. I have spastic cerebral palsy which means my muscles are affected by spasticity, this makes them tight and can cause contractures and joint deformities. Sometimes my muscles are less tight than normal, depending on my treatment regimen. A good example of this is when I have botox injections, these temporarily make my muscles less spastic and tight which means that my pain is lessened and physio is easier to do. The key thing here is that although treatments help me manage my symptoms better and improve my quality of life, they don't give me an increased level of functioning, my impairments remain.
  • Cerebral palsy isn't just a childhood condition. Now you're probably thinking 'well obviously, there's no cure for CP.', but in my experience with healthcare, it's clear that it is viewed by many healthcare professionals as a childhood condition. I think this is because growth spurts present big problems for managing CP - in CP muscles grow slower than bones which creates complex problems. I think many medics (and parents and patients) believe that once a child finishes puberty the effects of CP will remain more or less the same and so no more treatment is required. In my experience, this wasn't case. I was discharged from my consultant aged 17, I was told I could stop wearing splints, physio was no longer necessary. Lo and behold, aged 20, I was back under the care of a consultant, my muscles had shortened to the extent that I needed four surgeries to eliminate contractures and I have accepted that I will need splints and stretches for life to try and manage my CP. Of course, what makes this difficult is that healthcare for adult CP patients is sparse. I currently see a paedatric consultant due to the lack of adult CP specialists.  
  • Everyone is affected differently. I really cannot emphasise this enough. In the past couple of years, I've spoke to a lot of people with cerebral palsy through the Hemihelp (twitter @hemihelp) charity, having previously never known or spoken to anyone with cerebral palsy before. In August, a few of us met up in London and the biggest thing I took from it is how varying our hemiplegia (my type of CP) was. I'd always just assumed that everyone with hemiplegia had the same functional abilities and limitations. So I'd say that be cautious about making assumptions about how someone with cerebral palsy is affected and remember that our lived experiences of this condition will be different. Cerebral palsy is caused by brain damage, and the brain is one of the most complex things in the universe, so it kinda makes sense that CP will vary widely. 
  • The non-physical symptoms are just as important. Cerebral palsy is primarily a physical condition - it's physical effects on movement, function and posture are apparent and often very visible. However, CP very often comes with non-physical, invisible symptoms which often get overlooked. For me, I have visual perception issues which mean I cannot go unfamiliar places on my own as I cannot visualise the route I need to take. In school, I struggled with certain bits of maths which was incredibly distressing. For me, it was only as an adult that I realised that these were caused by my CP (thanks to the wonderful Hemihelp). However, these things have just as much impact on my daily living as my physical problems. I also have considerable fatigue and pain because of my CP, that makes it very difficult to function. 
  • Never understimate the importance of a support network. It's only as an adult that I've realised the importance of the support my family and partner provide. It enables me to do just about everything I do. I've also found talking to others with my condition invaluable, because it reassures me that I'm not alone, others understand what I'm going through, and can give me advice. 
  • Cerebral palsy doesn't define me. I am not just my cerebral palsy diagnosis, I am a person in my own right. I can still have similar ambitions as others my own age. For me, the past three years have been spent going through surgery and other treatments, I've had to put my life on hold that I sort of felt cerebral palsy was dominating my life. I've come to accept that there will be times where CP makes my life tricky, and it can be a headache trying to figure out how to manage it and get on with life, but it's important to remember it's not all that I am. 
These are just some of the lessons I've learnt about cerebral palsy in the past year or so. Feel free to tweet me (@thisisamy_) if you have any questions. 

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Atos are now miracle healers, apparently.


Today I want to share with you my ridiculous experience with Atos. In May, I was called for a work capability assessment (WCA) to assess my eligibility for Employment Support Allowance (ESA). Obviously I was worried, there's been a lot of horror stories about people who are far more disabled than me being judged fit to work. Anyway, the DWP decided after the assessment that I was eligible for ESA and put me in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG). This basically means that they don't expect me to apply for jobs right away, but they expect to move into paid employment in the future. I was happy with this decision. I do think I will be able to do some work in the future - but I do need support and time to get ready for work. I was also relieved because I knew I wouldn't be eligible for Job Seeker's Allowance - unless I flat out lie about the way my disability affects me. 

Anyway, all was fine and dandy, I attended my first work focussed interview with a lady from the job centre, and it was very positive. We both agreed that applying for voluntary work would be a good place to start with - it'd build up my self esteem, and allow me to test out my work capabilities. I've never worked (I couldn't manage studying for my degree and working so I have no idea what my kind of work is suitable or how many hours I can work. I do know that I will need support to work, I've needed support throughout my life - both in personal care and education- so it's totally unrealistic to expect myself to enter employment without needing support. 

About a week ago I received another esa50 form in the post, to reassess my eligibility for ESA. I initially thought it was a mistake, so I rang the DWP to ask if it was a mistake - and the lady said 'no it's not a mistake, your condition has a six month prognosis'. Flabbergast, I requested a copy of my WCA assessment to see what had been written. 

Anyway, a copy of the report arrived this morning, and in black and white it says 'I advise that work could be considered in six months' the reason given for this was 'The client's level of disability would be expected to improve'. (For some reason I can't upload the picture of the letter, but it's on my twitter @thisisamy_)

The person who assessed me was a qualified doctor. I'm unbelievably shocked that they have written that they expect my level of disability to improve. The first rule of cerebral palsy is that it doesn't improve. If you're lucky it stays the same. For me, it is a constant battle of surgery, splints, botox injections and physio to remain as mobile as I am now. My function won't improve because my brain has permanent damage that means my affected limbs are paralysed. Even non medically qualified people are able to understand that my condition won't improve. Indeed, my cerebral palsy is worsening, my body is struggling to cope with this disability. At the moment, if I have one 'busy' day my body takes a full two days to recover. This isn't meant to be a sob story, this is just my reality. This doctor seems to think my disability will improve within six months. There's no chance. I'll be lucky if my pain and fatigue that I get from my CP hasn't increased. I know full time work will never be an option, I'm not sure how many hours I could cope with at work before pain and fatigue becomes unbearable. That's why I need to do my voluntary work so I can see what my limitations are. In the meantime, I'm going to be reassessed every 6 months to see if my CP has improved - the stress this causes me is ridiculous. It's heightened even further because I know if my ESA is removed I won't be able to apply for JSA, so it's an all or nothing scenario. 

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Things I Have Learnt About Anxiety and Depression

This is a post I've wanted to write for a long time, but I haven't really felt strong or settled enough to sit down and think about my mental illnesses in depth. I really feel like since having CBT (and perhaps due to my medication) I've turned a corner and made real progress in how I manage my anxiety and depression. I'd really like to share with you things I've realised about these conditions and how I've developed ways to deal with the symptoms. I'm by no means cured of these illnesses, they still affect me, but I feel like I've got a bigger grip on them than previously. 

  • Avoidance - One of the biggest lessons I've learnt about anxiety/depression is that avoidance is the lifeblood of these illnesses. It allows them to thrive and creates a vicious circle. In CBT I was taught, that although you may engage in avoidance behaviours because they give you short term relief from your anxiety symptoms, long term avoidance is negative and a problem. I'll give you an example: when my anxiety was at its worse my avoidance behaviours got so out of control that I couldn't answer the buzzer to my flat. At first, my avoidance was relatively mild - I wouldn't go out the flat on my own because it made me too anxious, but then it just escalated to not being able to answer the buzzer. I have no idea why my anxiety got so bad, but I've realised that avoidance behaviours fuel anxiety and just worsen it. So by being aware of this I'm able to challenge my avoidance behaviours (easier said than done) and give myself small challenges to tackle the avoidance gradually. 
  • It's important to be kind to yourself. I find with depression and anxiety, I'm just in the habit of being absolutely horrible to myself. I used to tell myself I was a failure and that I would never amount to anything, and that I was a disappointment to everyone I knew. I remember being really ill with depression, I used to spend hours a day thinking incredibly negative nasty thoughts about myself. I've since learnt that this is not a healthy way to think, and that for every bad thing I think about myself, there will be a piece of evidence to counteract these negative thoughts, something objective. I find that when I'm thinking overly negative things I stop and think 'would I say these things to someone I loved?' if the answer is no, then I try to challenge these thoughts.
  • Control. Oh this is a big one, one of my biggest anxiety triggers is not being in control. I hate it, it always makes me dwell on the worst case scenario, because naturally I expect everything to go wrong, and if you're not in control of a situation, then to me that just means something will go wrong. However, I've come to realise (how I don't know) that sometimes in life somethings are out of your control, it's just part of life. I think part of my acceptance of this fact is realising it's not your fault if things do go wrong when you're out of control, indeed, it's not always your fault if you are in control when things go wrong. I find that anxiety can give you a sense of not being in control anyway - so on days when these feelings are really strong, I do something that is in my control. This might be something as simple as doing the washing up or a load of laundry - I just find it helps, it's probably because it acts as a distraction, I don't know.
  • Stop comparing yourself to everyone else. This is something we all tend to do and is generally quite hard to stop. I have to make a real effort to stop myself doing it, I have found that I have a tendency to compare myself to my peers so much and this was damaging my self esteem and making me incredibly low. I mean I'm 24 now, and seeing people I went to school with having good jobs, getting married and having babies, driving cars etc, just made me feel like an utter failure. However, I now realise, my life is not the same as their's, since I graduated with my first degree in 2010, everything just gradually fell to pieces and it ended up in a full on nervous breakdown. I've had to rebuild my life from scratch near enough - and as such that takes time. I'm learning to give myself credit for things I have done - I didn't quit my Masters degree even though I feared that going back would make my depression worse, I've managed to balance university whilst having four big surgeries in the space of two years. I haven't given up, I've not given up my recovery from these mental illnesses. All I'm trying to say is that, no two people's lives are the same, and my life is by no means a failure if I don't have things certain things other people have. I think part of the reason I compare myself to others so much is rooted in depression, people with depression often have incredibly high standards of themselves, and if they don't meet these standards they give themselves a hard time.
  • You can't rush recovery. I cannot emphasise this enough. When I was first diagnosed with depression, I was asking my GP and crisis team everyday 'well when will I be better'. I literally thought depression recovery was : take these antidepressants and bam, you'll feel better tomorrow. I honestly thought it was as simple as that. I now realise the best thing for recovery is time and patience. I reckon I was ill with depression for about two years prior to my diagnosis. It was only since I've started feeling better from depression that I've realised how long I was ill for, in fact, I'd just assumed my depression was my personality, I now know it was all the illness. So in theory, if I've been ill from depression for such a long time, then it will take a long time to recover from. I was repeatedly told by the mental health professionals that a slow and steady recovery is best. I now realise that is true. I view my recovery as unlearning all those negative ways of thinking, relearning how to think more positively, trying to quell avoidance behaviours and to lead a more balanced life. That's a lot of aims, and so logically, they'll take time. I'm in no rush to come off my medication because it's working and I'm keen to continue the progress. 
  • Be realistic about recovery. I've found talking to other people on twitter invaluable for this. I don't believe my recovery has an end point - I think my depression and anxiety will always need management to avoid relapse. I've accepted the anxiety is for life- I've always had it, so I think it's unrealistic to expect it to ever be cured. I get accused of being defeatist over this, but I've spent so many hours of my life wishing my anxiety away that it becomes exhausting and just fuels the anxiety. I think it's incredibly positive to say 'Yeah I'll always have anxiety, so I'm going to do all I can to self manage it'. It's not defeatist, it's realistic. With respect to my depression, I view it slightly differently, - I believe my depression is the result of incredibly stressful life circumstances that pushed me until breaking point. I don't want to discuss the personal circumstances here, but I believe they were a major contributory factor to developing depression. So as such, I think it will be possible for me to not be ill with depression. It will take time and effort, but I don't think it's impossible to think one day my depression might not be present. At the same time, I'm realistic, if it doesn't ever go away, fine, I'll accept that, and do what I can to manage. I do think my nervous breakdown has changed me in some ways. I look at it as scar tissue, I don't believe that I can be so ill with depression that you can ever be completely the same person you were before it. I think the nervous breakdown has left scarring on me, it's changed me. I think it's ultimately positive, because the nervous breakdown made me take depression seriously, so it's a lesson for the future. 
I could go on writing forever about the things  I've learnt about managing anxiety and depression, but maybe I'll save it for a second post. Writing this was actually quite therapeutic, it's good to reflect on how far my recovery has come. This will be good to read when I'm having a bad day. 

Thanks for reading, and feel free to ask any questions.


Monday, 5 August 2013

It's not just a word.

This is a part ranting, part polite post to ask people to consider not using ableist language such as 'spazz' 'spack' etc. I've noticed on twitter (and elsewhere) a lot of people using this word, and then when challenged, they claim they didn't realise it was a nasty, horribly offensive word. 

In case you're unaware, 'spazz' and 'spack' are abbreviations of the word 'spastic'. Spastic is a descriptive word used to describe a type of cerebral palsy. I myself have spastic cerebral palsy. It means my muscles are affected by spasticity. Spasticity refers to an unusual tightness and stiffness to muscles, it usually occurs because of brain damage. Spasticity means that muscles become difficult or even impossible to use. It can cause pain because muscles that are tight and stiff can ache and become uncomfortable. It also inhibits function because if muscles are tight and stiff they permanently shorten, this can mean that joints are held in a flexed (bent position) therefore limiting their usage. That is what spasticity and spastic means. 

I can't remember the first time I heard the words 'spack' or 'spazz' or when I even realised they were derogatory terms used to describe people like me. I know I was a child though, because I remember hearing them in school and feeling like I'd been kicked in the stomach. I think I may have realised when kids in school used to do impressions of 'spacks' and I realised they were holding their hands in the same way my hand was. Luckily, I was very rarely called a spack or a spazz to my face. That wasn't to say I wasn't teased because of my cerebral palsy, I was. I was called peg leg Jim throughout my primary school years because I wore a splint on my leg and had a limp. 

I've had people say to me when I've challenged the usage of these slurs that it's just a word and that I don't have the right not to be offended. All I can say to that is that, it's easy for people who are not emotionally affected by such words to say that. As a disabled person, I'm acutely aware of the ableism in society and the barriers I face. To me, the fact that these words are thrown around freely is another barrier. These words have negative connotations and are used in a negative context. People apparently use these words to describe acting like a fool, or being socially awkward, or for being clumsy and dropping things. I don't think my spastic cerebral palsy means I act in this way, or if I did, I don't think my CP is to blame. It's not too bold to suggest that people using such slurs to describe these things could lead to people having negative assumptions about my condition which could impact upon life experiences for people with spastic cerebral palsy. 

Please don't think I'm policing language or whatever, I'm not, I just wanted to say my piece. I've spent a lot of my time talking to others with cerebral palsy and a lot say that they hate this word and that it upsets them. I've spent a long time keeping my fury about these words locked up. I used to feel ashamed and embarrassed when people use these words around me, it made me feel like my cerebral palsy was something to be ashamed of because I knew these were negative words and therefore that must mean that having cerebral palsy was shameful, something to be embarrassed about. Language is powerful, it's emotive, it impacts on people. It has consequences, such words aren't 'just words'. I get that people might use these words and not realise what they mean, I do. That's partly why I've written this to help people understand the origins of the word and to help them understand why some people will be hurt by their usage.