Overcoming Obstacles

This week I really struggled to think of a topic to write about for this blog. That was until I came across one of my friends’ blogs about overcoming obstacles. As I was reading her blog,(Side note: If you want to check out the blog post I mention the link is: https://ashleemelda.wordpress.com/2015/04/14/do-not-let-your-struggle-become-your-identity/), it was like a light bulb went on over my head and I knew exactly what I was going to talk about.

It is no secret that everyone goes through obstacles throughout their life, no matter if they are differently abled or able-bodied. It could be an obstacle of trying to find the right job, or something more serious as learning to walk again after having a major surgery, or something small as battling writers block and trying to figure out what to write for a blog post.

Over the past few months I have had an issue with getting my balance down in the car port and near my friend’s car. For months I would feel like I could not walk without holding onto anything, or else I would lose my balance and fall, when I have been able to do this many times all by myself in the past. This became a constant thing and also became very frustrating. It was like there was an invisible wall there and I kept running into it.

After so many times, and many countless talks with my friend on what the hang up was, I realized that it was all a mental thing. Something switched in my brain to let me know that I could not do it without an aid, when I know I am very capable with walking without anything.

So how have I overcome this obstacle you ask? Well, to be honest, I still struggle with it, but it has gotten better. When I go downstairs I just make sure that I do not focus so much on holding on to anything, because I have noticed that is what screws me up in the first place. I also tell myself that it is only about a 100 ft. walk and that I can do it and that I am strong enough to do it.

If you are struggling with an obstacle in your life and you feel like it will never go away, I would like to encourage you to keep pushing forward. You may be struggling right now, but that does not mean that it will last forever (even though it may feel like it sometimes). Talk to family or friends about your obstacle and see if they have any advice on how to overcome it. I know that if I did not have the support of my friend who wanted to see me overcome it because she knew I could, I would not be where I am today.

Mythbusters Disability Edition: Diseased and Needs Help 24/7

All of my life I have heard, “Can I help you with that?” “Here, let me get that for you.” Or one of my favorites one yet, “So, are you helping out that disabled girl?” This is the type of things I get on a semi regular basis when it comes to people and dealing with my cerebral palsy.

Ever since I moved to Los Angeles almost a year ago, I have been pushed out of my comfort zone on a daily basis and have done things that I did not think that I could do, especially when it came to things dealing with my cerebral palsy. Although, I will say that the hardest and most eye-opening thing that I have had to deal with is people’s perceptions of me. And there have been a multitude of things that have come up in the last month or so that have really gotten under my skin, that I believe people need to be aware and mindful of.

What is that you ask? Well, let me tell you: Not all disabled people need a caretaker, and just because we have a disability does not mean we are diseased and the person I am going to be standing next to is going to get it. Now, you may be asking, “Katy, where in the world is this rant coming from?” Well I am going to tell you of two different instances that literally happened on the same day about a month ago.

The first incident happened when I had gotten an email to come in for an interview for an internship. To say that I was excited for this opportunity was an understatement. Sure, it wouldn’t be a paid internship, but it would at least help me get my foot in the door in the music industry. But as I continued to email with this person, the whole situation began to feel off. They wanted me to come in on Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Thursday’s until six, and the place where the internship was a good half hour away from where I live in Hollywood. I would do it, but I also had school to worry about as well and I told them that I couldn’t work until six on two of the days because of school. They of course fought back saying that I had ample time to get to class, and I was put in a position where I felt like I was backed into a corner where I had to mention my cerebral palsy. Now, I will be open and honest with anyone about my disability, that’s not an issue. I mean for crying out loud if I had an issue with it, I wouldn’t be writing this blog. But I do not tell jobs that I am disabled because I do not want that to be a defining factor in whether I get hired or not. I had to tell them that it takes me longer to get to places because of my disability and I have to leave enough time for that. This is the part that bugged me: They emailed me back and said, “I’m so sorry you suffer from this disease.” Um, last time I checked I wasn’t dying. To me I always looked at a disease as something you can die from, not a disability like mine, where it just hard for me to keep my balance and walk. However, according  to online resources, cerebral palsy is considered a disease, just not one that is considered deadly. I was unaware of this until just recently. Even I am still learning things from my disability, even after 27 years.  I ended up still setting up an appointment to have an interview, but after a couple of days I cancelled it because it just didn’t feel right going after everything that happened.

While I was dealing with the email situation, my roommate and I were doing laundry. After going to go check on the clothes, my roommate came back in and had told me of a conversation that she had with one of the other people in the apartment building while she was down there. They had actually asked about me. They had seen me around with my roommate and they thought that my roommate was my caretaker. Now, this is not the first time that this has happened. We will be out and about and people will just assume that she is my caretaker. I am setting the record straight right now. She is my best friend and roommate, not my caretaker. I do not and have I never needed a caretaker to take care of me in all my 27 years of life. My parents raised me to be strong and independent and I believe that they did a pretty damn good job. It can be very upsetting for me, as well as my roommate, and other people who I am close to because we can see what I am capable of and to have people assume that I cannot do things can be hurtful.

The positive that I take out of both of these situations is that I have a chance to share my story and show people who I am not some sick person who cannot do anything for themselves. I was able to tell the person I was emailing that there was no need or reason to feel sorry for me, that I am still the same Katy that will work her ass off when it comes to a job and that I do not give up easily.

I just want to encourage anybody that does see somebody who is disabled to not automatically jump to conclusions about whether they are sick, or cannot do things for themselves. Yes, there are people out there who have diseases, which make them not feel well on a daily basis, and yes, there are people out there who do need some extra help and do need a caretaker, but that does not mean that everyone does. I encourage you to get to know the persons story before you jump to such conclusions. I can tell you that it would make the persons day if you did something just as simple as that. Who knows you may make a new friend just by getting to know them.

#DearMe

Dear Me,

Oh boy, where do I begin? Right now you are just a teenage girl with so many dreams and aspirations, even dreams and aspirations that you know nothing about yet. I am sure that you are scared shitless of what the future holds and for what it looks like, but guess what I am here to tell you that that is okay. You will survive.

First thing to remember, life gets so much better after school. Like Brad Paisley says in his song Letter to Me, “They say that high school is the best years of your life…well I’m proof that they are wrong.” This is so true. Yes, you will have great times in high school, but you will have an even better time after school. Sure you may take a little bit longer to finish, but you will get there and it will be beyond glorious and exciting when you do.

You may struggle with wanting to be “normal” because of your CP, and I won’t lie to you, it will be a struggle for years to come, but you will get to the point where you become more open-minded in quite a few different ways with your disability. You will learn that you are just fine the way you are with your disability, even if people will want to “cure” you and make you believe that there is something wrong with you. You will also start an awesome blog telling people of your story and your struggles and highlights of your journey. You will also meet some pretty awesome people, as well as some not so awesome people throughout the years dealing with your cerebral palsy.

Speaking of finding your voice, you will become more honest with time. Probably so much so, that people will want you to shut the hell up and wish you weren’t right all the time. Trust me, you will hear this many times from your family and friends. This will eventually be coined “Honest Abe” and it will be hilarious.

When it comes to your family, you are probably dealing with a lot when it comes to them at this point. I get that it was stressful, and you cried a lot when it came to things with them. Your parents end up getting divorced, and that will probably be the hardest and darkest time in your life, but don’t worry too much, things will start to look up in a few years and your relationship with both your parents individually will be better because of it.

Speaking of better relationships, you and Kimmy will have a stronger bond over the years. Maybe it was the divorce that made you guys’ get stronger, or just the fact that you two grew up and matured and stopped fighting like five-year olds. The important thing is your sister will become one of your best friends and someone who you know you can go to with anything no matter how small or stupid it is.

As for relationships with guys…don’t worry so much about needing a boyfriend during school, you have too much going on during that time to even focus on that. Sure, you will have big crushes on guys, but those will fade over time, some quicker than others, but you will find the right guy for you in the future. Spoiler Alert: You’re still looking and he’s still hiding, but he can’t hide forever right?

When it comes to friendships with your friends in school, most of them will still be your friends for a very long time, others not so much. There will be friends that you had been friends with for years that you just have to cut ties with and be done with the friendship to better yourself, but there will also be friends that you may lose contact with and get reconnected and have a stronger friendship after the fact. Cherish every single friendship though, because every single one gives you a lesson to learn.

You will eventually move to Los Angeles and this will be a great learning lesson for you that you need to grow up. Through this, you will gain a stronger relationship with God, and learn not just a lot about yourself, but how the world can be. It will be hard, and you will get knocked down quite a few times, but you will stand back up and be stronger after the fact. You will also start to believe in your gut a lot more. Trust me, it is Hollywood after all. This is also around the time that you realize that you want to work in the Music Industry, and through that you are able to work with a record label. Through this you will meet your best friend and start a friendship that you will cherish for a long time, even to this day.

As for other inspirations, you will have a special place in your heart for a little known band called The Jonas Brothers and they will help you get through a lot of personal stuff, even if they don’t know about it yet. But just a warning, they will break up and go their separate ways, but don’t worry too much, they ARE still brothers and they won’t disappear altogether. Also, while you may think Zac Efron is a beautiful person as Troy Bolton in High School Musical, trust me, he gets better with age.

Most importantly, know that you are loved, funny, confident, strong, beautiful, as well as very stubborn, but that will help you not back down with what you want to do in life. If anything that shows how much you refuse to give up. So keep shining your light. You will change lives, trust me.

To Be Healed, Or Not Be Healed….That Is The Question

Throughout the years I have had to deal with many struggles when it came to my disability. Whether it be learning how to walk and gaining my balance without my walker, or just something as trivial as taking a shower, or tying my shoes. But I think one of the biggest struggles that I had to deal with (and still deal with to this day) was being healed or cured from my cerebral palsy.

Growing up, that never came up in conversation. I was who I was and that was okay. But as I grew older and started to find my place in the world and check out different churches, I kept hearing, “Have you prayed and asked God to heal you?” I would always be honest and answer no because I was under the impression that I was fine, that I didn’t need to be healed. But the questions continued. So much so that I started to believe that there was something wrong with me if I was not praying for this.

When I moved to Los Angeles for the first time and was a missionary for about a year, I dealt with this on daily basis. I honestly felt like I had a target on my back. It was like “Oh, look, there’s that girl with her walker, we should go try to heal her so she doesn’t have to use that anymore.” Most of the time it came from visiting churches and not the people who I was around 24/7, so this made it super difficult. I honestly felt like I was being bullied and being told, “You’re not worth it unless you’re healed.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I did not and still don’t have an issue for people praying for me in their own time, but if you want to pray with me I just ask that you get to know me first as a person and get to know my heart before you ask that question. Please do not just assume.

I actually had an incident about a month ago where a guy was eyeing my walker and trying to make eye contact with me during a church function and he started to talk to me. I had never seen this guy in my entire life, so he knew nothing about me. He asked me why I used my walker, and not even ten seconds later, he asked if he could pray healing over me. I told thank you but no. This is just a prime example of someone not really caring about me as a person but wanting to “play God”, so to speak.

One thing people would get to know about me if they really took the time to listen is that there was one time that I ended up not having to have surgery on my foot when I was supposed to. I had surgery about a year before this incident and it did not heal correctly as it should have, so my foot started to hurt really bad again. I went back to my doctor and they said that they were going to have to graft some of my hipbone into my toe to help the healing process. To say that I was not happy about this would have been the understatement of the year.

Fast-forward about six months later, I felt like my foot was feeling a lot better. I was able to walk on it for longer periods of time, and it wasn’t swelling anymore. I really felt like I did not have to have the surgery. So my mom and I headed up to Shriner’s on my surgery day and all I remember talking about on the two-hour ride up there was that I was not going to have to have surgery. We finally make it up there and me being the person that I am didn’t even say hi to the person checking me in, I automatically said, “My foot feels better can we please take an x-ray so that way I don’t have surgery if I don’t need to.”

I don’t remember much after that other than the fact that the doctor took FOREVER to come in after the x-ray, but when he did it was only to bring good news. He said that the toe had indeed healed and it looked like there was some tissue or cartilage that had formed over it so I did not need to have surgery. I was so excited! All I remember after that was saying thank you a thousand and one times and then surprising my dad by being home later that night.

So I am not saying that I don’t believe that God cannot do miracles, the story that I just told you is one of them, but I am not going to live my life searching to be healed. I am going to live my life and I believe God has a plan for me with my cerebral palsy. I believe that this blog is one of them and I am beyond grateful for it.

For the people who are disabled and do not like it and wish to be cured from it, which is fine, but please, do not make that your idol. Do not obsess over the fact that you need to be healed to feel whole. You don’t. Find what you love about yourself in the here and now and work with that. I guarantee that you will find out a lot about yourself when you do that. Trust me that is what happened to me, and hell, I’m still learning to this day!

Also, to the people who would rather focus on curing someone from their disability rather than getting to know that person, maybe you should slow your roll, take a step back and live in the here and now and see what good this person is doing, and honestly just get to know this person before you make the assumption that they need to be healed. Because believe me, it is a huge turn off and makes the whole “Christian church” look horrible when someone is pushy and narrow-minded like that.

Would I change any of those situations that I mentioned above? No, I wouldn’t because through those situations I became the person I am today, and I will be forever grateful for them. I can confidently say now that I love who I am and would not change it for the world.