Thoughts at 2am…

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I thought that by now, with less pressure and less stress in my life I would be happily curled up and asleep at 2am, but apparently it’s a good time to write. It’s quiet here and just leaves me alone with my thoughts. It’s nights like this were I’ve tried everything your supposed to do that I just turn to writing instead, which some people will nag ‘the light of your computer will wake you up more!’ but honestly nothing’s getting me to sleep right now. I don’t like mentioning or talking about the pain in my spine still bothering me but lately it hasn’t been at it’s best. I’ve been sat in a very rigid chair for about 10 hours a day for the past few weeks, for anyone’s spine that would cause problems, for mine it’s hell. So while I’m trying to wait for the second lot of painkillers to kick in I thought, why not let my mind wander, see where I end up.

I’ve been trying to fall asleep for a few hours so a lot has been going through my head, just thoughts zipping past like cars on a motorway. One keeps coming back to me though, I suppose it’s because of an essay I was writing today, I can’t seem to escape the bloody things even when they’re done! I was thinking that pain, in all it’s forms is something that makes us human. When a person is in so much pain, mentally or physically, they will let go of what they thought they knew, sometimes of their opinions and prejudices, all that matters is stopping that pain, unless you are incredibly stupid that is. Great pain is a humbling experience. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from or anything like that pain and fear make us all the same, because it is.

I’m a true believer that once someone has experienced true pain in their lives it will change them for good. For some people it will make them bitter, angry, resentful. For others pain makes them appreciate more, try and be more compassionate and understanding as a person. For a long time after my spine broke I would be angry, I’d be filled with tears and hatred that my body had let me down. Thousands of people fell off horses all day, why did it happen to me! Why did the doctors risk it! Why did my notes keep getting lost! I was miserable and honestly the anger was just making me more tired, more sad. I’m not saying people aren’t allowed that time, of course they are. In the words of John Green ‘pain demands to be felt’, I know I needed that time because I was so upset and heartbroken and unsure of the future. If you were told that there was a chance you might just lose the ability to walk by trying to walk (and do the one thing that would make you better in the long run), wouldn’t you be?

I held on to the pain and frustration for a long time, I was convinced that I was just a burden and there was no point to anything when it took me so long to take a few steps, when going out somewhere meant having to take my wheelchair or that I had to sit while everyone else could stand. I wish I could tell you there was a wonderful eureka moment where I let go of it all, where I just went ‘ok, enough is enough let’s get on.’ I was always carrying on but after time and after I learnt what my body needed and how to start managing the pain I felt a little calmer, a little more able to deal with the world.

I would never wish my injury on anyone, the fact that it’s causing me to be awake at 2am the day before my final deadline because of physical pain is not a fun thing BUT I do believe that it’s made me into a better person. The injury taught me more than I would have believed it could. I quickly learnt that life was what you made of it when you got given something shitty. I learnt that as much as I wanted to organise everything for the next 30 years I couldn’t. I learnt that life is a mess a terrifying, wonderful and always evolving mess and you just fit in where you can. I realised I was allowed to take a break and not be this built up image of ‘perfect’ I’d associated with myself. Am I annoyed that I might not get the first I worked for because of the early days of fuzzy pain? Of course I am. Am I going to let it taint my whole university experience, final year and the progress I have made? No. Likewise I learnt what I need in friends and that I can be alone comfortably more than I give myself credit for. I learnt that I can handle a lot more than I can give myself credit for and that while my body might not look like a magazine cover, it’s mine and it’s actually a pretty amazing thing. Being in horrific pain lead me to most of this, which is something so strange to me. Either way, the past is the past and my future is my future so I’m going to see what I can do with these experiences and be the best person I can be.

Remembering the good.

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If you haven’t guessed already I love pictures like the one above. I love words and slogans and nice backgrounds. I guess it’s because sometimes I don’t have the image that says what I want to say or sometimes I don’t have the words to say how I feel. It’s because of that I use Pinterest a lot because sometimes the words I need are already there. I don’t use the quote I picked today because I think I’m this brave, strong person. I’ve always said I’ve simply got on with my life the best I can.

I’ve thought a lot about the accident in the past few days, about my spine. This isn’t because I’ve had a lot of time on my hands, more because I’ve been in pain again and there’s nothing more frustrating. When my doctors say the scans look normal and my physio says there’s not much he can do and yet I’m still in pain a lot of the time. When I’m in the awkward part where I still can’t walk too far or stand up for long periods of time and have to explain that I’m recovering from a spine injury. When I have to call venues and explain why I need a seat and they have to decide if I’m ‘disabled enough’, because I’m not officially registered as disabled but at the same time I’m still struggling so much. Don’t get me wrong I do not want another label at all, but sometimes it’s what other people want so I can get the help I need at concert venues for example.

So while I was feeling pretty down about this yesterday, I had a conversation with Ali about how I was feeling and why. He reminded me that while the accident was shitty, awful and did change a lot of my life, a lot of positives came out of it too. I was reminded of these again when I went to see Joe tonight.

  • I’ve got a new appreciation for my body when it’s healthy
  • I’ve gotten better at taking me time and not doing things I don’t want to do
  • I’ve learnt a lot about friendship
  • I’ve got a much better relationship with food, portion sizes and exercise
  • I met Alice, who has come to be a great friend and support to me, I would never have set foot in a gym if it wasn’t for the accident
  • My relationships gotten stronger
  • I have a new sense of understanding when it comes to physical disabilities
  • I got a job I love that I might not have applied for if I hadn’t been spending so much time online when I couldn’t move
  • I got a lot of reading done
  • As a result of the reading I finally embraced feminism and found a new passion

There’s a lot there and I think, as with anything that changes your life when you don’t expect it, there’s a lot to deal with. Sometimes I forget all the positives because I’m just having a down day, that’s all. I worried about writing tonight’s blog because I have had people in the past saying I think too much about my spine, that it takes over my life. Then I shook the thought off because of COURSE breaking your spine is going to have a huge impact on your life, it changes everything for at least the first year – two years after it happens. I no longer care about the ignorant or negative people who don’t try and understand or make throwaway comments because my spine and how I handle it is a part of my life. The good, the bad and the ugly.