I’ve made no secret of the mental health issues that the early stages of my illness caused. Back in Autumn of 2018, which feels like a lifetime ago now, I was struggling to function. I was scared to leave the house and I spent most of my time curled up on the sofa hiding from my responsibilities under a blanket.
What I haven’t spoken about very much at all is the mental struggle of coming to terms with a completely new version of yourself after an illness as serious as mine.
Thursday 6th February was Time to Talk Day; an initiative created by mental health charity Time to Change, with the intention of starting more conversations about mental health. The rise of #TimeToTalk to the trending section of Twitter made me decide that it’s time for me to talk. I’ve spoken in depth about most of the physical limitations that come with a brain injury, but I’ve barely scratched the surface of how that can mentally affect a person.
It’s not surprising that I’m a completely different person to who I was eighteen months ago. I have crippling fatigue, difficulties with speech, concentration and coordination and, to top it all off, I’m partially deaf. I think it’s impossible to go through everything I went through, come out with the list of disabilities I have and not have a new outlook on life.
Whilst I’ve understood the changes to my physical and mental limits, I’m a long way from coming to terms with the new version of myself. Emotionally, I’m still a twenty-something year old woman who wants to go out and live her life to the fullest. Two years ago that’s exactly what I was doing, so knowing that my disability now prevents me from doing that is a difficult pill to swallow. There are days when I feel really low because I’ve had to cancel plans with a friend when my fatigue is really bad. There are times when I stay at home and avoid doing something I really want to do because I can’t cope with the idea of a big crowd of people on that particular day.
For me, training for the marathon and fundraising for Headway is my way of starting to come to terms with the prospect of a permanent disability. It’s a way of proving to myself that even if there are days where I really struggle to cope, both physically and emotionally, I can still achieve my goals. Whilst there are days where thoughts of the version of myself I’ve lost bring me to tears, the new version of myself isn’t so bad. She’s strong. She’s a fighter. She’s not going to let her disability stop her living.
She’d also really love it if you could make a donation to Headway – only £1,300 to go!