By Louise Jensen
If someone had asked me ten years ago what I thought the worst thing that could happen to me would be I could probably have written a list. No scrap that, I was that much of a worrier I would have needed a scroll to note every possible outcome of every possible scenario. Ironically in all the times my imagination went on its wild, elaborate story telling journey (frequently), being in a wheelchair was never on the list. But that’s exactly what happened.
I had a car accident which not only caused spinal damage but exacerbated a pre-existing condition and as a result I spent a long time in a wheelchair, progressed to crutches and five years on I am now able to get around the house without aid.
Initially I was distraught. I had to fold my holistic therapy business, I had three children I didn’t feel I could care for properly and a dog who didn’t understand what had happened to our long country walks.
My progress has been slow, but it wasn’t until I changed my mental attitude that my physical recovery started in earnest.
I tried many techniques and was forever looking for ‘the answer’ without being entirely sure what the question was. Once I properly understood peace isn’t something we can obtain, it can only be experienced, I knew I had all I needed within me. I spent hours exploring my own consciousness and it was awesome to find that rather than just giving clients advice I was actually living it. Walking the walk as it were, oh, without the actual walking bit. Everything suddenly made sense.
Sure, I will never be the person I was but hey I have learnt to love the new me, to value myself, to ditch the negative voices in my head and create a life that excites and fulfils me. Below are some tips that helped me on my journey. I hope you can pick something out to help you on yours.
Be kind to yourself. If my situation had happened to a friend I would never have said “oh well, there’s no point to you now. You will just be an unlovable burden to everyone”. But that’s exactly how I talked to myself. Writing down some of the things you say to yourself shows how outrageous and hurtful they would be if said out loud to someone else. Love yourself like you love others. You deserve it.
You can’t change things that have happened to you but you can choose the way you feel about them. I spent hours and hours wishing my accident had never happened, longing to be the past me. Accepting that would never happen but realising I have a choice on how I feel about it was really empowering. I have a different kind of life now but one where I really do value the small things.
Be Grateful. Initially I really struggled with this one but many hours sat in front of a journal (and it was days and days before I could even take the lid off the pen) I always compile my grateful list before I go to bed no matter how much pain I am in or however bad a day I have had. Once you start it’s amazing how you start to notice the little things you may have taken for granted before. I went a long time with virtually blank pages and now I can easily fill a book!
You are stronger than you think. Too many people have said to me “I could never cope in your situation”. The truth is you could. The human instinct is to survive and we always do. Your spirit can only be broken if you allow it to be. I felt really, really sad but then I made the choice to change that. It’s not always easy but, with the right support, you can do it.
There is absolutely no point worrying about the future at all. I was in a constant, stomach churning, place of anxiety worrying about how complete my recovery would be. Actually, although I am a long way off healed, I am better than the doctor initially predicted. Truth is nobody ever really knows what the future holds. Think back to situations you have envisaged and fretted over. Did they actually happen? No, probably not. We can’t predict forthcoming events and it is a waste of energy to even try. I may carry on gradually with my recovery or I may be confined again to a wheelchair, either way my worrying about it will not change the outcome.
Don’t let your mind be judgemental. We automatically label things good or bad. Although my accident seemed unfair and tragic at the time (a bad thing) I have grown so much as a person, have a new business and have found love (a good thing). Truth is, it was just a thing and labelling it automatically puts you in a certain state of mind.
Stay in the present moment and live life fully. You never know when, if, or how drastically things can change in a heartbeat. Appreciate what you have right now. I never put off things until the future anymore. My accident has proved to me there is never a future like we think. Now, this moment, is all we can guarantee.
Live is an adventure, don’t fear it; live it. Losing my mobility hasn’t ruined my life. Sure it has changed it but I embrace that change. Actually I’m ok. I’m living my life and it’s awesome. Live yours too.
Louise Jensen is an award winning Kinesiologist and is certified in many therapies, including the Mind Detox Method (as featured on Discovery Health) where she graduated from the Mind Detox Academy in record time. A regular writer, Louise has overcome living with a disability and has 12 years’ experience in helping others to heal. In 2012 Louise co-created The Happy Starfish, an online community dedicated to celebrating health, happiness and peaceful living.