MMY – MY ME YEAR
“You can’t go back and change the beginning but you can start where you are and change the ending. – C.s. Lewis”
Many of us set New Year’s resolutions heading into 2018, hoping to better ourselves with thoughts of a new year, new me but it doesn’t have to be a new year to become a new you or to set goals.
2017 was the year that I wasn’t giving myself any expectations. I went into 2016 with the intention that everything was going back to normal, by doing this I had already set myself up for a fail. A fail because I lost such a big part of me the day that I had to relearn who I was. It breaks my heart even now to look back to that time, that time that I was lost- I was in such a familiar world but nothing made sense. Where I am now is a place that has its highs and lows. I’ve learnt that there’s this hidden strength that everyone is unaware they have, it’s the kind of strength where you are tested to your absolute limits. You have nothing else but an almost broken kind of strength that keeps you going, until you’ve reached your perceived peak and then you fight some more.
I’m not actually a girl that questions why, and trust me there are times where my rock bottom suddenly has another hidden layer that I could never have expected! I’m that girl that will try to keep going and 2017 showed me just how far I can go if I keep working and what I can achieve.
My goals were/ are simple: – “My rehab is to help my recovery and my story is to help others in their journey.”
2017 saw the first steps for me in raising awareness for brain injuries, for Headway and for anyone suffering from an invisible disability. Whether that was a brain injury, an illness or any form of mental health. I’m standing here talking for those that can’t and putting a face to something that has changed my whole life in a way that I could never have imagined; in a good way – who knows? This is not a life I have chosen or one that I would want but what I can say, is that I’m so proud of how far I’ve come.
Through my pain and adversity, I have been given a life that holds more significance and meaning than I think the life before ever could. My recovery hasn’t been the easiest I can’t deny that; however the journey I have been on has made it my mission to help others.
My writing became my escape, my way to understand what I was going through; with brain injuries there becomes a detachment to what is real and what isn’t. The pain became something that I could never have imagined and somehow, me talking through my new normal was someone else’s saviour. It’s hard to believe that what I’ve spoken openly about can touch so many other individuals. Knowing that my hardship has given so many other families and survivors the strength they need moving forward for their own life is a feeling I cannot describe.
Looking back over 2017 and what I’ve achieved, is something that makes me so excited about 2018. I knew that writing was going to help not just for those that suffer, but for people that surround me. Even ones that are very close to me somehow finally got an understanding of what I’m going through.
I’ve not been able to tell the whole story, as I’m not yet brave enough to face that side of my journey. One day I’ll show you that the positivity I radiate or the “social media false life” we all live, isn’t as rosy as everything seems. However, I give you what I believe is how everyone fights battles behind closed doors, those battles that none of us know anything about.
I think when you’ve faced something as scary as my recovery has been; your outlook on life is so different to everyone else’s.
“Thankful” isn’t a big enough word I can use. Grateful, being appreciative of the simplest things is something we all take for granted; this has been a major outlook for me. Everyone is so quick to judge and by quick I mean in the respect of normal everyday life. It’s impossible not to pass judgement. Even on the smallest things like, how someone drives or what they wear but have we ever been able to give others that self-love we all wish we had and try to appreciate each other. I know I’ve been one to judge of course I’ll put my hand up but the difference is I don’t think you will truly understand how hurtful it may be, being on the end of that judgement until it’s happened to you.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learnt is how beautiful the world we live in is! I don’t think this is something that I believe I probably would have really appreciated before my fall.
I don’t believe we, as individuals understand how lucky we are. We are all so wrapped up in the everyday, mundane usual routine that until something really makes you stop in your tracks how will you ever appreciate what you have.
Stop worrying, stop getting stressed over the smallest things, stop looking on Facebook every other 5 minutes, stop and really look at what you have, because tomorrow might not be for some and we all forget just how precious our time is.
I’ve sat on the bus from my house to the doctors and to the hospital daily and looked out the window and watched the leaves blow in the wind, watch them fall.
I’ve never appreciated anything like that view before! The different colours flying through the wind it’s beautiful and it made me think just how lucky I am. Instead of worrying about being late for an appointment or what I was going to cook for tea, I could actually sit and enjoy something life has given us all the opportunity to see. I’m so thankful for this, the fall has given me a different view on life and I’m so grateful!
Just take a moment each day and count your blessings because we are so lucky for having that opportunity to be able to do so.
I’m still in shock about “High Rolling for Headway” and what a success it turned out to be. It was a very special & important goal for me. I never expected the night or the run up to the event to turn out the way it did. You have this dream and when it turns into reality it’s something else. In recovery we are taught to set self-goals and targets to reach, my first one was to be able not to worry so much about my speech, I might not ever get rid of my stammer but I can talk and that’s huge so it’s something I’m so thankful for! To be able to drive again is huge and one that can become disheartening, as I never thought two years down the line I’d still be waiting to be medically fit. I’ve learnt that instead of setting big goals that are out of reach and that can set you back mentally, if you don’t reach them is more damaging to your wellbeing. It’s much better to set little ones that are achievable, with this it can build morale, confidence and enhanced wellbeing.
So in my year of “no expectations” I set up a fundraising page and with the help of others, my mission became raising awareness for brain injuries and for “Headway Cardiff & South East Wales.” Telling my story was never about being vain, or a pity party. It was always to give people the knowledge to try and understand; I would say 85% of people know nothing about brain injuries, stammers or invisible disabilities. I didn’t want anyone to go through what I and others I have met have gone through. If I had been aware of this link from the beginning who knows where I could have been and the understanding I may have had. I just want to be able to make sure others have the ability to gain this knowledge and understanding at the start of their journey.
On Saturday September 30Th at 7pm I hosted a charity casino night.
Never in a millions years did I think my little celebration of how far I’ve come in my recovery would result in the night that we had. I have to thank everyone that came and supported me. There are no words that can even justify how grateful I am for the people that came, supported and gave to a charity that is my everything. The people that donated to the evening I owe you a massive thanks for making this night such a success. The night ended up raising with gift aid £7,106.72 how can I even thank people enough for getting there. My goal was £2,000, im still in shock £2,000 is a hell of a lot of money so to be able to say I “SMASHED” it is a feeling like no other. With determination and passion anything is possible. If I’ve learnt anything that has been my mantra since my accident- determination and passion.
To be in a room full of people that have battled to be where they are, that have survived, and that have fought for their lives is pretty inspiring in itself. They may not show they are broken or they have scars, some scars you cannot even ever see, is amazing. It’s inspiring to see that although they have been through the worst, possible battle you can imagine and yet are still standing, still smiling and still making every day the best day there can be. Is something that I can only wish to become!
The friends I have made during my recovery are the most selfless, caring, heart-warming and loving people I can ever come across. The last two years have not been the easiest but to have these incredible friends who I look up too in awe, is something that gives me strength every day. I hope that when I’m at their stage in my recovery – I will be able to look back and be able to smile, because all my strength I’ve battled with has come from them giving me the courage to keep going. Knowing that I am not on my own, I am not losing my mind, it’s not in my head this is real life and it’s ok to be scared but I’m not alone in that.
These survivors have been my guides, my rock and my teachers in how to learn to manage my life around a brain injury. I cannot thank them enough for getting me to this stage. What I’m trying to achieve is for every survivor out there and making sure that his or her journey is a better one.
If I can smash my target of £2,000. Imagine what else can be achieved with the knowledge knowing that money I’ve raised, is going to help so many other survivors and their families. To be able to give back to “Headway” is a feeling like no other. Headway gave me a life line and I will forever be grateful for them.
I have to give a massive “Thank you” to some very close friends of mine. Over 2017 I was lucky enough to have family and friends help donate to “Headway Cardiff and South west Wales.” From running the London marathon, to doing a 100k ultra-marathon. Having family in Australia raising an incredible amount for us in Cardiff, which is something that I will forever be grateful for. To a luxury golf day in London and my friend for selflessly cutting her hair off! They combined a total of £8,080.00.
So our combined total raised for Headway in 2017 £15,186.72 , is unbelievable!!! I’m so appreciative for everyone’s help and support and for those that took on a challenge!! No words will ever be enough for what you’ve done. Thank you so much Sarah Gibbons, Sophie Bennett, Hannah Morgan-Smith, Rob Fellows and Leila David xxx
So what am I asking for in 2018? I think this year is about me. I need to learn to love who I am and be happy with that, I’ve fallen in love with helping others and doing all I can for Headway and fellow survivors. That will always continue as it’s become my passion.
This past year has actually taught me so many things. There’s a saying that when you wake up from your sleep and you realise that you lost the moon while counting for the stars. I’ve been put on this path and although I’m still very unsure and learning how to adapt, I’m in a far better place that I actually realised I was. Learning to love me and accept the person I’ve become… that’s my aim for 2018. This last two years the ups and the downs, has made me forget about who I am. Instead of searching for who I was or something that I was desperately trying to be. I’ve actually learnt that looking back I’m shutting off how beautiful the present or the future can be, I think it’s actually given me something more than anyone could ask for.
When I’m truly in love with myself is when the world can be seen with the happiest thoughts. Never let anyone or anything dull your sparkle because beauty isn’t just skin deep. I’m a fighter I’ve been beaten till I’m black and blue, and nothing will stop me from seeing the world for what it is. Hold those close to you, love them dearly and learn, that you can only be truly happy when you’re happy with yourself.