In exactly two weeks it will be four years since the day of my accident. Life changed dramatically to say the least. I always talk about that first year and just how hard that was to get through. My mindset then was completely opposite of what it is now. I saw my accident and disability then as a curse and nearly four years later I see that day as a blessing. It was my second chance, but during that first year I thought my life had come to an end. Happiness was nowhere in sight and today I understand the true meaning of happiness and embrace this second chance with nothing but a positive outlook and a smile on my face.
I was cleaning out some of the drawers in my apartment and I came across this old blue notebook. Before I started using voice dictation to write on my computer, I wrote some entries in this notebook. I’ve heard that a spinal cord injury is the hardest injury to adapt to. Also take into account that I have bipolar disorder and my medications were not completely straightened out at this point. To say the least, I was not in the right mindset to handle such a life changing injury.
I want to share a couple of those entries with you for you to understand just how down on myself I was. I also want you to understand that no matter what your circumstances are you are able to push through them, learn from your mistakes, and find a better more fulfilling life in the end.
This page kind of sums it up…
I absolutely hate this new life. Everyone tells me to focus on what I can do and not to dwell on what I can’t, but what can I do now? I can read it, which I’ve never had the attention span for. I can watch TV, which is getting very old. I can watch movies, which I am tired of. I can write, which is what I’m doing right now. Although I have to handwrite everything because I can’t use my left hand. I used to type as fast as I could think. I can go out to eat and hang out with friends. I can also ride my hand cycle, but I wrecked it so that is not an option right now. I can listen to music, which just reminds me of driving my car around or being in my apartment. I can also draw. This is not much if you ask me. I know there are a few more things to do, but not compared to my old life.
I’m angry at the world.
THE NEXT ENTRY
Lyrics from “Nothing” by The Script:
“Am I better off dead? Am I better off a quitter?”
Sometimes I think so… Well most of the time actually. The only thing that makes life worth living are my family and friends. They love me too much to see me go. Maybe I’m alive for them. To be there to help them. To make them realize what they have because I feel like I’ve got next to nothing now. Life has changed so much and it’s hard for me to stay positive. I’m constantly told to focus on what I can do and not on what I can’t, but I’m still hung up on what I can’t do. When I see certain things they remind me of what my life used to be.
It kills me to see my waterski knowing that I’ll never be riding it again or to see my longboard just thinking of all of the times I rode it back-and-forth to class and around campus. I watch the kids in my neighborhood ride their bikes by and I just dream of riding again. To take a long bike ride on a perfect 70° day. When I listen to music I imagine myself in my car with the music pounding and the windows down. I remember the feeling of the gas pedal under my feet cruising down the highway. I just miss the freedom of driving wherever I want rather than being driven places. I feel so restricted now. I miss it all so much.
If I could just stand up right now I would give my mom the biggest hug and cry. If I could get up and run, I would never stop running. I would rather be able to walk again and have my life back than to have a billion dollars or any amount of money. I want out of this chair more than anything.
I lost my independence when I crashed my car. I am now completely dependent on others to survive. I need help to get dressed, get out of bed, make food, shower, and go to the bathroom.
See the change? Now I look back at the day that I woke up in the ICU as the start of a new life filled with more opportunity than I could ever imagine.
In these pictures you can see that I wrote in the notebook all of the things that I missed and many of these things were things that I thought I would never do again. The ones with the pink checkmark next of them are things that I have already done. There are also still so many things on this list that I am still capable of doing and plan on doing.
I somehow survived this…
and I went from this…
That is a genuine smile. What I learned from having one year of misery is that you should never live your life in self-pity and that you should treat every day as a gift. No matter how bad your situation is, there is always a way to find joy in your life. I consider myself lucky and blessed to the point where I cannot be thankful enough for all that I have in my life.