- Posted October 13, 2013 by
Nashua, New Hampshire
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Bullying awareness: Your story
Born with Cerebral Palsy and Dealing with Bullies
My name is Jimmy. I will be 23 years old by the end of this month. I was born with a condition known as Cerebral Palsy. It is a physical condition that impairs my ability to walk. When I was a baby, the only way I could get around was by crawling. I wasn't able to walk until I was a toddler, and by then I was using a walker and/or crutches. I stopped using the walker after kindergarten and have been using crutches ever since.
It hasn't been easy living life with this disability. I've had to undergo about 4 surgeries to get to where I am today. The first surgery was to lengthen tendons in my legs so that they wouldn't be so tight. The next surgery I had was a baclofen pump placed near my belly which would send medicine to my legs so that they would be loose enough so I could walk.
The kids at my school never understood why I was the way I was. I would always get asked questions, which is a good thing. There were also times where I would get picked on because I couldn't walk. Kids would threaten to push me out of the way when I would walk too slow. I got called names like "four legs," "sticks" "crutch boy." I never really had anyone to stick up for me. Yet somehow I was tough enough to make it through all of that despite the bullying.
There was one year I struggled the most. It was in middle school, I was in my sophomore year. My parents noticed my attitude changed. I was getting either angry or depressed. I didn't really notice it right away, but then it became obvious when I was put on medication for treatment of depression. I was also diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder.
The medication I was on worked for a little while. But then things started to change again. I noticed it in gym class, as I sit on the sidelines watching the other kids get ready for class by shooting hoops or jogging around the gym. I couldn't do any of that stuff, or so I thought. Instead I just sat there pitying myself, wishing I could be more like the others.
I hadn't really gotten bullied that much in high school. The fight was more with myself, and fighting my past. Letting my past affect my present and my future was my biggest mistake at the time because eventually it led me into the hospital for a week of treatment and different medication to treat my depression. This medication worked for a little while, but eventually I had to realize for myself that the only person who's opinion matters the most is your own. I learned that you can't let yourself be affected by the opinions of others.
One day during my senior year, I was walking with a friend to my algebra class. There was an underclassman who decided to make a "cripple" comment before quickly running into the classroom. My friend and I both quickly turned around to see who it was. She got a glimpse of him before he got into the classroom, and we had to think about what we were going to do.
We ultimately decided to go to the Student Resource Officer's office and report the incident. Unfortunately, the student denied my claim, and I didn't get to confront him. To this day I wish I was allowed to say something, but since he denied saying anything, I couldn't say what I wanted to say.
I didn't let the situation affect me in any way though. I never look over my shoulder to see who might be talking about me as I walk past them. All these things I did at one point because I was really insecure with who I am. Sometimes I still have those thoughts. Sometimes I still do ask myself why I am the way I am. But I think that is a natural part of life. I don't think we need to think of ourselves less that what we are, which is human. That's the lesson I have for people that are struggling with bullies. Don't let them bring you down. Only you can bring yourself down. Don't let it get to that point.