Today marks the 15th Anniversary of my accident. Normally I try not to focus on this day and let it pass without thinking about it too much, but this year is different. I want to stop and reflect on the things I have had to overcome, the people who have been there for me and honestly and truly how lucky I am. It feels like the end of a cycle of change and transition and the start of a new exciting chapter in my life.
I dedicate this blog post to my family and to love. In my darkest hours the strength of my family and the love and bond we share pulled me through. They gave me the strength to dig deep and carry on. And today I am a survivor because of it. When I think about this day 15 years ago the thoughts that come to my mind first are my sister being at the hospital before I got there, my Mother holding my hand 24 hours a day and my Father travelling tirelessly to be by my bedside and driving miles around to satisfy whatever food craving I had on any given day. I think about the friends, some of whom are still in my life and some of whom I have lost along the way. Everyone had their part to play in making me the person I am today. Everything that happened set off a chain reaction for every milestone I crossed personally and professionally and at times I tortured myself with the why, but I knew someday the reasons would present themselves. And if one of those things happened in a different way I might not be where I am – ready to take on whatever comes my way.
People often ask me what I feel when I look back and the truth is I wouldn’t change the way my life has turned out. My accident made me who I am and taught me so much about how I want to live my life. It taught me about people, about disappointment but also about joy and happiness. It gave me a new appreciation for the smallest kindness and the humanity that exists in everyone. The people who touched my life and helped me get through probably don’t even realise the impact their presence in my life had on me, even if it was fleeting. And that doesn’t include my medical team who put me back together, my physio who helped me walk again and my psychiatrist who helped me harness the power of my mind.
My advice to anyone reading this is that life will be tough, it will be disappointing and it will hurt. But take each of those negative moments or experiences and harness that energy to propel you forward and not hold you back. Look at every challenge as a way of pushing yourself to achieve something that seemed impossible, even if that is just getting out of bed in the morning. Some days for me showering was an achievement of epic proportions. But I took the win and focused on the progress I was making. That’s what life is about. Focus on the wins. You might feel they are few and far between, but they are there. Everyday. Don’t take anything for granted, life is there for the taking, and snatching it from the jaws of defeat might be your greatest achievement yet.