Time is a gift that we all take for granted.
12 months, 365 days, 8769 hours, 525,600 minutes and 31,536,000 seconds in a year.
Do we live them to the full? Can you honestly answer that question? Are you giving the best version of you?
Time passes us by so quickly and the past three years I cannot believe where the time has gone?! When you think about 3 years so much can happen, our lives can change dramatically in so many aspects. It’s only now that I’ve really been able to look back over my recovery and it’s made me think about my journey in every way possible.
For the first time in three years, I am able to actually solely focus on me and as selfish as that may sound; I want to be able to achieve more.
The first milestone was an achievement, the first blog that I posted; I sat in my lounge, on my own in tears over everything that I had been through in that year. The response I had back from that blog was unbelievable. The anniversary of my accident is a day that I dread, a day that I suppose I feel like is a reminder of how I felt robbed. Robbed probably isn’t the right word, more so scared of what had actually happened? Little did I realise it was to be the beginning of an amazing journey.
Somehow I managed to supress everything else and I focused on sharing my story.
When I hit my rock bottom, the only way I knew how to manage what I was going through was writing; I thought if I spoke about it others wouldn’t have to face the battle or constant judgment that I was affected by on a daily basis. It started to open so many different doors and this made me realise that what I thought were negatives were actually becoming my positives. I became focused on knowing that if I could contribute something positive to others then nothing else mattered. That knowledge and awareness was changing people more than I realised and that became my goal. My main goal.
I gave myself time.
Time to process what I wanted to talk about and what I was relearning. The new information was a way to hold my own and support those that were not able to access the help I had received. It was key information that I knew would be priceless and survival for the new journey of recovery after a brain injury.
Hands on my heart; it was the only thing that was keeping me alive.
goals for 2017
At the beginning of last year, I took a look at what I wanted to achieve. How was this journey going to evolve? How was my story going to become more than just my rehab and my mundane routine that has become my new normal?
I decided where my original plan of celebrating that I was alive in year one, in year 2 I was going to give back to help those that desperately needed it like I did.
My two-year milestone was created with all my efforts going into raising awareness for brain injuries. I used my journey and organised a charity night “High rolling for Headway” where I had a platform to show people how far I had come and the help and support that was out there if they needed it.
The months leading up to my two-year mark made me so anxious! Almost as if I was waiting for someone to say well you made it. Or as if I was meant to have felt a shift in my recovery or mind set thinking I had managed to get to the two-year mark. I think deep down it was all due to the fact they give you this time frame; a time frame in which I think people can get stuck with “oh this is it, here I am. Is this who I am and it’s never going to get better?”
As mentioned in last year’s blog it is said that it takes two years or so, for your brain to rewire from the damaged caused.
What made me want to fight even more, is the stigma from the “what ifs.”
I still felt apprehensive, nervous of what the outcome could have been, but I managed to hide behind what I was doing, all I could for those that didn’t understand the journey ahead of them. It was something that I felt so strongly about and still do.
That year of my ‘no expectations’ allowed me to focus on my fundraising. The best part was that it allowed me not to set myself up for a fail. Anything was better than nothing, which in itself gave me something to work towards as it was my own achievement.
After a meeting with Headway Cardiff recently, I was told that the money I had raised from “High rolling for Headway” which has amounted to £7,567.62. (And hopefully still rising)
Headway Cardiff, has been able to use this money to offer a whole year worth of counselling for survivors and their families’. I can’t even explain how much this means to me & fellow survivors, it just shows that the smallest donation and determination can go a long way. I think if you have followed my story, you will know just how overwhelming this was for me and how much this has given me more of a drive to continue with my work.
MMY – 2018
I want to apologise for the lack of writing I did this year. My post from the beginning of this year was about learning to love myself.
I realised that I needed to take a good look at myself, could I feel happy? Could I love again? I’ve massively struggled when it comes to my feelings, my emotions and to understand who I am over the last three years.
My recovery has/ or shall I say had been tinted; I refer to my world of boxes. I struggle massively still with my understanding process and with too much information my filter funnel gets full. Everything in my life had a box and it was the only way I could manage the new me around focusing on a situation at a time or my mental health.
I was so focused on getting better and that I naturally assumed everything else would happen or fall into place. But it wasn’t as easy as that and actually my mental health was something I couldn’t hide from. For the first time in the last 3 years the last couple months I was able to actually focus on my recovery, my health and myself.
I thought it was something I was doing from the start but I wasn’t. I was hiding behind a mask the whole time. I had managed to create a shield without dealing with what was or had happened. My divorce took over my life and I didn’t realise how much it was affecting me and my recovery. I came down to whole new level of low, which is what prompted me into writing in the first place. It was the only way I could compartmentalise what was happening to me and my life. So for the first time in three years, the last couple of months I was able to finally start to feel like this is my time. It’s my time to start focusing solely on my rehab, my recovery and who I am beneath all that.
My life has become so much more meaningful and my focus has been on giving back to others, it’s something that will always now be a part of me and my life as I continue on this road.
I surround myself with people that lift me up, give me the best support and wholeheartedly have the best intentions for me.
When I could have isolated myself, become something that wouldn’t have been the best of me. I’ve had moments where I’ve needed to just have my own time to reflect on what emotions were what and fathom how certain situations have left me shell shocked. But I managed to change my mind set and thrown myself into the deep end to help other survivors, purely because I’ve been in a place that I would never wish anyone to be.
I still need help massively with my mental health but that’s ok everyone is allowed to have that. By mental health im not just referring to my brain injury; although that alongside learning everything from day one hasn’t been the easiest of rides.
It has been the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced and to learn and understand what was happening and how I felt is something I never will be able to explain to anyone. There are only a few that would understand how badly I felt, and I understand that I’ve spoken about how grateful I was to be able to have survived what I went through. However I wish I could explain it’s not as easy as it was for me to go back into a “normal life” when I lost everything I ever loved.
I’ve never wanted to talk about that side of my life before because I wasn’t sure I would ever be comfortable in my own self to step away from it but, I’ve never felt the way I have in the last couple of months. I feel like now is a time for me to really grow.
Finding me and finding my path has been the biggest challenge ever. I know it’s nowhere near over, this is literally just the start but it’s a direction that im willing to travel in. However anxious it makes me, I have to understand that not everything is controllable. My dreams hopefully will become my reality and my health, rehab, recovery will be my focus and I am on the right path.
My love and my heart will always be alive and kicking for those that need it, whether it’s being an ear for someone to talk too or to be able to help them and give them advice through their toughest battles they may face. Whatever it may be, knowing that someone understands your journey is such a huge part in recovery.
At the time I heard this statement, I remember thinking why do people say this. But now looking back I honestly believe what she said, my closest friend told me just over 2 ½ years ago that;
“I know you can’t see it yet, but Zal I promise you, you will find the reason why you were put on this path.”
And if it was to help give those families and survivors the support and the first step they need then so be it. It’s been worth it knowing that a little piece of advice, like I received from other TBI survivors has helped in some way, it’s an incredible achievement that i’m immensely proud of.
So year 3; what do I have in store for you? Now that’s a question!
First stop Namibia.
The Sliverlining brain injury Charity, is a group of like-minded people who aim to improve the quality of life of all those affected by brain injury. Their mission is to unite, engage and rehabilitate all those affected by brain injury with positivity, purpose and advocacy in their local communities and beyond.
I became a part of this charity early on this year and once again I am in awe of how welcoming, understanding and positive they are towards us. (TBI or ABI survivors)
I’ve noticed that throughout my recovery, it is so important to have that network of a family base feel around you that gives you the confidence and support you need to grow.
Namibia is mission that Sliverlining take on every two years. In all honesty, I had heard about the mission in my first social meeting with Sliverlining but I never thought in a million years that I would have been lucky enough to be asked to take on this challenge. Let alone it being in two weeks’ time!!
6th-21st October I along with 22 others, including 10 brain injury survivor’s’, buddies, medical team and team leaders will be heading to Namibia, South Africa to take part in the good will programme with The Sliverlining Charity.
This trips purpose is to engage the ‘Sliverliners’ with goodwill projects to support those less fortune than us and in the process grow and develop as people. We will be based at the village school that has approx 14 children aged 5-12. Which we will be delivering lessons and much needed maintenance projects. Our hope is to help teach the children from a new aspect, fun activities and begin to create running water to the school and hopefully a garden for them.
To be able to achieve this challenge is something that I never thought I’d be able to do. To say im nervous is an understatement but since my accident three years ago today, it has been my goal to want to raise awareness for other brain injury survivors and hidden disabilities and show that just because I have a disability doesn’t mean that my life should come to a halt.
This challenge is going to completely take me out of my comfort zones and push me to the max which im dreading, battling against my fatigue, dependency on a stick, stammer and other effects I have but I know it’s a once in a life time achievement.
I would really appreciate your support through this challenge and hope that you can be as proud as I am about my mission.
Instead of buying your £5 worth of coffee we all spend daily, why not spend it on helping the children in Namibia? simple clink on the link “Namibia 2018” to see the photos and the fundraising page . Namibia 2018
My hopes, my dreams and my RECOVERY
I’m hoping this project and this year will see me grow and be at peace with finding me and my recovery journey. It’s a journey that has been the biggest fight but one that I can carry my scars around and be proud of what they have taught me.
Its takes a lot of courage to get back up but if the last three years has taught me anything, it’s that if you want your life you will go out and fight for it and that’s what I’m prepared to do and help others fight for theirs along the way.
I feel that now is the time to be able to take that next step forward and hope for the best with my recovery journey. I’ve smiled through a lot of pain but for once i’m finally smiling for me! Here’s to next 12 months.
Remember be strong, be brave and be you.