Being a disabled black woman
Britny Virginia| @britnyvirginiaa
I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at the age of 6 months old in Dennery, St. Lucia. Cerebral Palsy is caused by an abnormality or a disruption in brain development. The problem in brain development could be due to many factors, mine was caused by delayed birth and the umbilical cord being wrapped around my neck leading me to lose oxygen to my brain. Despite this, my mother pushed me to achieve the best and most in life. She was focused on my ability rather than my disability and what I couldn’t do. In the village where we lived individuals with disabilities were seen as second class citizens. They were condemned, mocked and undermined and my mother was determined not to let that be my future and my fate. She fought her hardest to give me the best chance in life with the little she had. And that's a testament to black mothers who love their children; they make the best out of all that besets them.
Despite this, my mother pushed me to achieve the best and most in life. She was focused on my ability rather than my disability and what I couldn’t do.
Despite my mother’s honest efforts to build a strong child and my father’s consistent love, I was still faced with many insecurities, discriminatory attitudes and behaviours and the everyday struggles that comes with having a disability my mother and father possibly couldn’t understand or help with. Everyday I experience and push through joint pain. There are times it gets me depressed and I can’t find the will within to fight past the pain. Other days I am more optimistic. It's an internal struggle that my loved ones can’t always see or comprehend. I experience early arthritis in my knees because of my disability which is a shock and can be very upsetting.
Sometimes I lose hope of being a mother and a wife under the crushing reality of disability.
Disability prevents me from moving the way I want. I sometimes feel disconnected from my culture as a black Caribbean woman because I can’t whine and dance like my fellow cohorts. I have feet that point outwards and this is not a common trait among people with Cerebral Palsy but in my case I have this condition which means I can’t wear certain shoes specifically heels that I’d love to wear which takes a toll on my ability to feel sexy and empowered. I experience intense pain in my ankles when walking and standing too long because they swell easily. Even sitting and standing straight away can be painful because my ankles are adjusting to the weight transfer to my legs. Recently, I pulled a ligament in my lower back and I’ve been healing from this injury for over a year now. The pain was so intense sometimes I couldn’t move my leg an inch to walk. Standing would cause pain, sitting in the wrong way in the wrong chair would be painful, walking was a challenge. I was just in constant pain. It's taken some time to heal but now I am in a better place. There were things I could have easily done before that is now a task or chore to do. I have to focus intensely on a simple task to get it done and get it done with proper coordination.
Having a disability has caused me to push beyond my ability and make the best of my circumstance.
Living with a disability has made me feel like I can’t do life or that I won’t be able to have or keep a job because I won’t be able to give a company what they deserve. It's hard. And there are times I want to quit but I think about how my disability can be a blessing and not a curse. There are perks of having a disability like the demand for black ethinic candidates who have a disability in my chosen industry, easy accessibility at events and most importantly the open perspective I have because of my experiences. Having a disability has caused me to push beyond my ability and make the best of my circumstance. I have done a lot of impressive things over the years that are cause for celebration. I try not to complain. I seek the best in life as my mother taught me and I have dreams of being a bodybuilder one day which I am to achieve. I’ll let you know if I reach my goal. But for now, make the best out of whatever life has given you! We are more than capable of conquering this life even when we don’t feel it!
(Source: Aaron Phillip, them.com)