KEEPING IT REAL: Raenell’s Story

Thu 17 Aug 2023

KEEPING IT REAL: Raenell’s Story*
By Raenell McChristion

Describe what it was like to grow up with cerebral palsy.
Growing up with cerebral palsy has been extremely difficult. Especially when it came to school. Kids were not nice to me. I learned at an early age, no one is going to respect my disability. High school was the worst. I got called some many names “handicapped girl”. “Cripple”. “Ugly”. The list goes on and on. It even got as far as me being physically assaulted.

What's your relationship with your cerebral palsy?
I have a love/hate relationship with my CP. I don’t hate it entirely and I don’t hate myself. I just wish my body would listen to me more. 

What are you studying and what drew you to it?
I’m a junior in college. I’m getting ready to be a senior and I’m studying creative writing. I’m studying this because of a high school teacher who actually complimented me on my writing skills. At that time, I wasn’t really feeling college so when my teacher gave me that compliment, it gave me a confidence boost. I mainly write short fiction stories and poetry.

What kinds of things do you do for fun? Do you have to make adaptations to do them?
I like to dance and bake. I do have to make some little adaptations with them but it’s nothing major. Dancing and baking are exercising to me but it’s more fun to do.

What achievement are you most proud of and why?
One achievement I am proud of is reading my poems at the Celebration of Students Writing, an event they had at my school. I’m kind of a shy person and I’m not too fond of public speaking. I almost didn’t go to the event but my friends encouraged me to go and I did and looking back on it, I’m glad I did. 

What do you hope to achieve in the next few years?
In the next few years, I honestly don’t know what I want yet. I just hope I’m doing a something that makes me happy. Also, I want to get my permit and my license.

What advice would you give your younger self?
Keep going. It’s going to be hard and things are not always going to go your way. People are going to try to tear you down but you have to keep going. Do it for yourself and your well-being. There are opportunities waiting for you so you can’t give up. Keep going. Keep fighting. I believe in you. Don’t give up on us. I love you.

What do you wish other people knew about what it's like to have cerebral palsy?
I just wish people knew that is hard living with cerebral palsy. We don’t get special treatment from anyone. We have to work harder than other people who don’t have disabilities. We have no support system. We support ourselves and try to live our lives to the fullest. It can be hard mentally as well as we live in a very ableist society with no support system behind us. 

What advice would you give others with cerebral palsy?
Keep living your life the best you can. I know it can be hard and frustrating sometimes but keep going. I believe in us. We need to show the world what we are made of. So, don’t give up. 

*Raenell’s story is part of KEEPING IT REAL — a series of personal stories that will take you deeper into the lives of people with CP. Each person makes different choices based on what works for them, and we’ll showcase that — highlighting what life is like for them on a daily basis, what they care about, and the ways CP impacts them. 

The KEEPING IT REAL blog is intended solely to raise awareness about the varied human experience with cerebral palsy and shouldn't be read or construed to contain any medical advice or medical endorsement by Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation. Only you and your doctor know what's best for you. Please consult your doctor for medical advice.

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