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Christian Karlsen: One life

You only have one life. Norwegian psychology student, Christian Karlsen, shares his philosophy for making the most of it.

To have cerebral palsy (CP) is tough, sometimes frustrating and painful. I know, because I have it myself. I have experienced both the good times, as well as bad. CP has given me a life that very few without CP can understand, because it often feels different from the life normal people live.

From my childhood till now at an age of 26, I had always needed to take into consideration what my body can or cannot do. Taking care of the physical side of my body to prevent pain as well as present and future problems has been essential. I’ve had people regularly tell me to conserve my strengths and energy, and at the same time push me to regularly train and exercise to stay fit, prevent pain and muscle stiffness, and maintain functionality. With the needs and weaknesses that give me such a difficult life, it often feels that I can’t be the same as the normal people without these problems.

But in my life so far, there is one thing I have learned for certain.

Whatever kind of disability or challenge, we have the same feelings as everyone else. These include dreams and hopes, need for love and support, for comfort and safety, to feel and be viewed as strong, capable and intelligent, having a good sense of humour, being interesting and likeable. All that makes someone human, we can find in ourselves; even though we may feel different with the influence our disability has in our lives.

I am a psychology student and have studied psychology for many years. I have learned much about how our mind works, and understood how important it is to take care of one’s feelings and thoughts, and the harm  if we neglect it. We all have the capability to push ourselves through hardship and pain, push aside difficult emotions and keep our head high and focused. This works well and helps us get through life for a long time, but our mental strength doesn’t last forever.

We might feel that our emotional or psychological side has no end, that if we stay strong we can push it forever, but our brain is just like a muscle, and if we put pressure on it for too long it will either weaken or get damaged. I guess many of you have experienced it with either muscles in your feet or hand, that by putting more pressure on it than it can handle, it will get sore, painful and difficult to use. The same can be said for your brain and emotional strength.

As mentioned, we have the same feelings as everyone else, we also have the same need for rest and a break from the struggles in life. Many of us are more demanding and tougher towards ourselves than we would ever be towards anyone else. We would tell others to listen to what their bodies are telling them and to start taking care of themselves. Never doubt that your needs are just as important as others, and listen to what your body says. The need for love and happiness, to experience life and feeling desirable to others are the same in all of us.

Don’t neglect these needs, and don’t believe they aren’t for you. Our disability or struggle in life may sometimes be only as overwhelming or severe that we let ourselves to believe. You may be much more capable and “normal” than what you feel or think. Open yourself up to your feelings, listen to them, relax and always respect and take care of the needs you feel in your daily life.

You only get this life to live, make sure you’re happy and satisfied.

Contact

Christian Karlsen: chmk@online.no


Date: 11 Jul 2017

Category: Quality of Life

Author: Robyn Cummins