Today marks 6 years since I leaped off a 50ft fourth floor balcony In London. It was the eve of 17th November 2009. I was 19 and unaware to me, my family and friends I was in the midst of a very severe psychotic episode. Every year around this time I think back to that period of time that led up to my accident, the accident itself and then the result I now find myself in. Every year I get upset, but this year I have decided to write a blog to help me express my feelings and to help me look at all the positives I have achieved.
I think I get upset every year because I look back at my life before my accident and compare all the things that are now different. It’s not that it gets to the 17th and I sit and cry all day and hide in my room. I do go about my normal day and no one would notice. In my mind though I occasionally find myself reflecting a lot and when I get into bed that night I get upset. I imagine myself on the balcony and it gives me the shivers!! I get images in my head as if it was yesterday. I remember how scared I was when I first woke up in hospital thinking I was dead. I think how sad I was when I got told I would never walk again. And I think back to how depressed I was for those first few years after my accident. There is so much I think about!! The fact it has been 6 years though, now means that I have spent nearly a quarter of my life in a wheelchair! I have accepted that I will always need a chair but it hasn’t changed who I am as I don’t let it define me.
I will never give up trying to walk but I know realistically that the movement in my feet and the loss of sensation in my feet and legs will probably never come back.
I think the difficulty of becoming a wheelchair user in your late teens is that you have the knowledge and experience of what life is like being young and completely able bodied. At age 19 I was going for nights out every weekend.
I had finished sixth form, learnt to drive, had two physical jobs and was attending college. It was a new chapter in my life. I had plans to go to university. But Two months into college my life crashed down.
After my accident I used to compare myself to my friends that were at university and friends who had jobs. I couldn’t help think that I was just worthless. I used to say to mum that I felt so behind in life but she would say you just have to accept that life for you moves slower than your friends.
My friends often message me and say that they are proud of me.
They don’t feel sorry for me, they message to say they are proud and always say “look how far you’ve come” . Day to day I used to feel like I wasn’t achieving anything but when I look back at all the things I have achieved In the last six years since my accident I suppose I have come a long way. Re learning to walk was a huge achievement. The day I was told I would never walk again probably was the worst day of my life. But I did it, despite what the professionals said. I proved them wrong! I re learnt to drive using my hands!
Although I was really scared to leave my house in my wheelchair I went back to college 5 months after leaving hospital and completed my foundation course. It enabled me to go to university in 2012. I moved to Cambridge for two years into student halls and although I didn’t complete my degree, I learnt how to be independent and I made some great friends.
Leaving University was a really hard decision to make but the amount of neuropathic pain I was experiencing meant that I spent nearly all of my time lying in bed crying. So I moved back to my parents at the beginning of summer 2014.
I did become very depressed from the pain and I was so scared that the pain would continue at that level for the rest of my life. It was really hard for my friends and family as there was nothing they could do to help me.
By January 2015 my pain had finally started to decrease, it didn’t go completely but it became less sharp so I started to be able to sleep at night and I was able to start enjoying life again.
I stopped comfort eating, ate healthy and had much smaller potions and I eventually lost the rest of the weight I had put on after my accident . Which altogether was three stone . It was really hard work especially as I’m sitting down most of the time . I feel so much better for loosing the weight.
In May the pain levels were still better so I decided to seize the opportunity whilst it was better, so I applied for a peer support worker training course. (A peer support worker is basically a mental health mentor who has the lived experience of having mental health difficulties). On the training course I learnt how to use my experience to then help others. I was successful in getting an interview and then a place on the course. I passed the 12 weeks course so I then applied for a job in August. Again I was successful in getting an interview and I got the job!! My first job since before my accident! I was so happy that I got the job, it felt like the biggest achievement since I re learnt to walk and walked 3 miles for race for life back in 2011.
I started the job at the beginning of September. So far it is going really well and I love it. I work 30 hours a week and I have surprised myself of how well I am coping as it has been a massive life adjustment. I still suffer pain everyday but I’m just about coping as it isn’t too severe. Some nights I don’t sleep because of the pain so I do struggle but I’m determined to succeed at this, so I try to not let it get in my way. I’m just about managing to juggle work with hospital and Doctor apointments . The job role feels perfect for me. I am able to use my own experience of having depression to help others who experience low mood, stress, anxiety and depression. By using the story of my accident/depression where appropriate I get to show people that you can recover. I also encourage them to take control of their recovery, which is different for each individual. I use how I have battled back from a difficult situation as my example. I listen to the people I am working with and can emphasise with them, sometimes on a level that others can’t. To them I am living proof that you can recover from having mental health difficulties. It is great giving hope to those suffering with their own mental health difficulties. As well as having a very meaningful job, I really love having structure back in my life.
As well as being successful in getting a job, I am also moving out! I have a house to move into, I am just waiting for the final arrangements to be sorted, so it will probably be the beginning of next year. It is in a nearby village to my friends and family so it is perfect. I have been sofa shopping and I think I have found the perfect one ! I am so excited!!
I am so happy that I haven’t given up hope even though there have been some incredibly hard obstacles. Tonight when I go to bed I am not going to get upset. I am going to look back at the last six years and think to myself ….I did it!!
Thanks for reading!!
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