I am a twenty-five-year-old living with cerebral palsy and I have been living on the BC coast for close to five years. I would like to share some of the events that led me to this point in my life and why I have come to believe that life with a disability does not need to be a disaster. I am at a point where I am actually friends with my neighbours after years of self-imposed isolation and a cynical view of my journey thus far. Having this particular disability I’ve always felt like I was halfway between two worlds. The two worlds I felt stuck between were my actual disability and how people perceived my disability. On one hand, I identify as being disabled since I have a physical disability. While on the other hand, is how my disability is perceived by others. Often people assume I am not mentally able because of my disability which is not true.
Sometimes I cannot believe how my life has changed since leaving my hometown and all my support behind. I left home to chase an opportunity far away from what I was familiar with.
My own Hero’s Journey began with me traveling to the coast after a flurry of hastily made decisions before doubt had a chance to creep in. Almost before I knew it my things were packed into a U-Haul truck and one of my oldest and closest friends were moving to the outskirts of Vancouver to Surrey. A place those closest to me affectionately refer to as ‘Murderville’. Being disabled I have always loved video games because I felt that the playing field was even as opposed to physical sports. Knowing that I was passionate about games my friend encouraged me to attend the Visual College of Art and Design. So I signed up and got a loan to learn about the industry and making games. I took classes about composition, game theory and design and began to hone the artistic skills required for the gaming industry.
Due to an unforeseen circumstance, my friend who I moved to the coast with and I had a slight falling out. He ended up moving away leaving me short on rent. I also needed to pay my taxes so I could attend post-secondary. This left me short on money.
School did not end up working out and became too expensive to continue, but I don’t regret trying as I met my girlfriend on the way to class one day. She stood out to me because she had cerebral palsy too. Through her, I began attending support groups for people with disabilities and met a bunch of people like me who have had similar experiences and struggles. I started to feel like I had found a place where I belonged. I met many disabled people and began learning from them about affordable housing and much more. My new roommate dropped out of school and moved back home to Alberta so I was once again looking for a place to live. I was able to move to an affordable place in North Vancouver thanks to the friends I had made. I couldn’t be happier with my current living situation (short of owning a house of course).
If there is one thing I hope you take away from this, it is that you should embrace who you are because you are never the only one going through the same struggles. You never know how life can change in a few years so don’t get cynical like I did because things can always improve.