Having a human mind is hard. Rather, I think that humans are meant to worry. Knowing all that I have to do to get better, despite all the advice I receive from my close friends, and family, I still find myself in bouts of depression. I am dealing with all kinds of emotions which I’m now going to talk about.
The first feeling was disbelief. This event was something I would never have imagined would happen to me. It was something that someone would never wish on anyone. When you are born able-bodied, you start to think you are entitled to be that way. It becomes a right. Something that you deserved from the day you were born. So having that gone in flash. Suddenly, you are paralyzed from the chest down. I just couldn’t believe that it was really happening. Sometimes, I still think I could be dreaming. I think everyone just thinks that nothing bad will happen to them. That it just happens to someone else. You wake up in the morning, and you attempt to move your leg, but you can’t. Or maybe, it was all just a prank. I couldn’t believe that I was sitting in a wheelchair, and so many other things I have had to endure. It’s only now when I can say I got it. I understand that it happens. It’s just the way of life. It’s all part of God’s plans. No one is exempted from anything, and that’s ok.
Confusion. This is the hardest part. I’m sure most of you know what it’s like to feel confused. It’s not particularly a great feeling. It breaks you up. You have completely no idea of what you are going to do . From your point of view, you have nothing . You want to get better. You try almost anything you hear of, from herbs, to religion, to try and recover. When you don’t get results, you wonder what it is that you are doing wrong. You blame yourself.
I worked hard in my exercises, but not seeing results, got me wondering. Maybe, we weren’t doing enough. Everyday, in your head, there is constant turmoil. I have shared my thoughts and feelings with my closest friends, but somehow the confusion never leaves. With all the problems that come with spinal cord injury, from chronic pain and exhaustion, to sleep disruption, you feel like you are going insane. For a while, I started having temporary memory loss. I could be having a conversation and forget what I was going to say next. It’s horrible to feel disorganized. I finally challenged myself to be kind to myself. I now make it a point to remind myself to take it easy. That I can’t do it all at once. To tell myself to breathe, and remind myself that Rome wasn’t built in a day.
How could this be happening? How did I get myself here? These are some of the questions I often ask myself. It makes me feel angry at myself for letting it happen. I have been knocked down more times than I can count. For some reason, every turn I take seems to be more challenging than the last one and that’s infuriating . Somehow, everything and everyone makes you angry. Sometimes I take it out on the people around me which is not my proudest moment. This one time I was angry at my neighbor who made a wheelchair joke. Or if someone tried to talk to me about acceptance that would make me furious.
Me and my little sister went to church. I always don’t feel comfortable when people stare at me. When we were on our way to the bathroom, my wheelchair’s front wheel came off. It became so awkward. We became the center of attention. I was so angry at the world right that moment. I wanted to scream. I have often felt it was unfair. I was angry at God or fate, for some time my prayers were just about questioning and persecuting him. I came across some interesting reading that said anger is a good and healthy way for wanting more in life. That you can use It as a motivation to overcome any obstacle. I put it in practice. Each time I feel angry, I challenge myself to do my exercises. I work twice as hard, which is a win for me. That is how I manage my anger. I find it very helpful and therapeutic. To anyone feeling anger, use all that energy to work towards something positive. Let that energy drive you.
This one time, I was alone in the house and my wheelchair was in the next room. I could hear and smell that the pot on the stove was burning. I tried to call out, but no one could hear me. All their phones were on the table in front of me. I ended up calling our neighbor to come and switch off the stove. It really broke my heart that I couldn’t do anything about it. I couldn’t believe how much I had lost. Every time I failed to do something, I felt like I was letting myself down, and it would just break my heart. With some friends disappearing, it was all heartaches. With every piece of bad news, every doctor had to convey to me, all those heart breaks came to a point where I started to feel sorry for myself. I was looking at everything and I felt it was all just sad. I lost most of my confidence. For a long time, I couldn’t even take a full picture of myself.
It took me a long time to be in front of a full body mirror until I did I realized that there was nothing wrong with me. I looked the same except I was just sitting. The day I put on some lipstick and dressed up, I fell in love with myself all over again. I can safely say that lipstick saved me. To this day, I make it my mission to dress up and look good. The first thing I want people to see is how good I look before they see my chair.
Spinal cord injury being an unfamiliar condition, and all other limitations that comes with it, is very stressful and scary. Such that it has made me suffer from anxiety. Feeling like the world is out to get me. Feeling like I’m failing myself. I always feel so much pressure, like time is running out on me. I have so many fears, but somehow I just know it’s all in my head. That they are all just false alarms. You feel like you are losing your mind. You fear that you just might never be able to cope, or get over your situation, or feel any better.
I got to a point where I started having panic attacks . When you are coming from having nothing and everyone around you seems to be living and doing much better than you, you feel like you are nothing. You feel like you are a failure. You worry every day for stuff you really have no control over. You punish yourself with all these kinds of thoughts that are just detrimental to your health and mindset. Lately, I have felt like I’m pathetic because somehow it feels like I’m the only one who has got nothing to do. While others are doing something with their lives. I’m out here crying and feeling sorry for myself while others are doing something positive with their lives. I am often fighting to stay sane and honestly that makes me feel like I’m pathetic. Not knowing the route to take with your life is so stressful. All these are the negative feelings I find myself dealing with over and over again.
Only now, when things are starting to take shape, bit by bit, that I have had the ability to relax a little. From what I have learned, I can advise anyone who finds themselves in hard times, to take it easy. I now believe whatever happens in one’s life is already written in the stars. Whether you worry about it or cry, it’s already been decided. There is nothing you can do about what you can only do is embrace it.
While it has been hard, I believe this condition has somehow taught me a lot about life as a whole, and helped me to understand its dynamics. I have learned kindness through all the light brought by so many lovely people in my life. I have learned patience and forgiveness, which I needed to overcome some obstacles along the way. I have learned about empathy. Generally, I discovered myself, my strength, my heart. It’s still a journey, I know.
I found new hobbies and likes. One thing that has helped me is the serenity of prayer. As more and more challenges come, you realize this is beyond you. That you can’t do anything about it. You can’t keep fighting. If you can’t keep crying. It is time to concede and accept your fate . Let go of all the bitterness and just trust that the God in heaven has got your back and he knows all the plans he has for you. If there is a part of you that believes in higher force, hold on to it and just trust it’s all going to be fine.
Everyday, we learn, we grow. We evolve. My mission is to achieve my goals. I pray that I succeed in my journey of self-love and fully accept things as they are.I believe I can be whoever I want to be. How and when I get there is determined by how hungry I am for bigger things. My spinal cord injury was just a diversion put in my way to slow me down. It does not mean my dreams should die as well. I strongly believe this is a start of bigger things. I just have to keep my eyes on the prize. On a good day, I’m always proud of how far I have come. Of all the times I got up when I thought it was the end. Somehow, I just rose again, and I will continue to do so.