On the morning of the 15 November 2016, I awoke in a hospital bed, with no memory of how I got there. My favourite pyjamas had been torn from my body, and I lay in a hospital gown, a piercing pain in my head, impaling my brain. I was barely able to think and incapable of speech. I was scared, though this was no surprise. My new normal comprised of regular hospital visits and multiple near-death experiences. I was trapped in a routine of near-monthly sprints to the emergency room, and days of recovery. Death was a very close neighbour.
How do you carry on with life if you don’t know life will carry on with you?
February 2014, I was served an ultimatum at work: “Stop being sick, or you’re fired”. It had been building to this for a couple of years—a new line manager, his lack of understanding, and his unreasonable demands. His expectations were his own.
How do you face an uncertain future, a future no one seems to understand?
There are many important dates in my life; life changing dates. Being wrongly put into special needs, severe bullying inspiring suicidal thoughts, faithless educators giving me easier work, sacrificing my dream of getting a degree, the fear of a double high risk pregnancy, undiagnosed postnatal depression, facing the prospect of brain surgery, newly diagnosed anxiety, OCD, and depression, and so on.
Being a diagnosed epileptic, life has always been changeable, uncertain, hectic even
Some of these things were out of my control. Some of these things I will have to accept partial responsibility for. Some of these things are emotional turmoil. Some of these things are physical disorders and others are societal stigma.
I don’t ignore what has gone wrong. I don’t ignore my past. I look at it, I learn from it, and I reset my compass. For those things that were cruel, things that were not my fault, I acknowledge them, I forgive them, but I don’t forget them and then move forward.
“You’re mourning the loss of what you thought your life was going to be. Let it go. Things don’t always work out how you plan. That’s not necessarily bad. Things have way of working out anyway.” Frasier Crane
That November day, when I nearly died, I didn’t give up and I didn’t give in to despair. It drove me to cherish my friends and my family even more. It drove me to value myself and the life I’ve been given. Because, ultimately, who are you living for?
Sitting in that meeting room in February 2014, confronted with unaccommodating, prejudiced, and undue criticism, I was astonished but unafraid. That was the end of that job for me. I chose to leave on my terms. While my boss had been unkind and intimidating, he made my answer clear.
Could I have stayed? Absolutely. But I knew staying where I was not wanted would make me unhappy. Some people will only see what they want to see. They will only want you if you fit in their box. I was unafraid to disappoint. The only person you should really care about trying to impress is yourself.
With all of my life-changing events, a choice had to be made. To arrange things in a new order of importance. I chose happiness. My need to be happy outweighed my want for success.
No matter who you are, what you believe, or how you feel, you are not a failure, unless you allow yourself to be one—unless you give up on yourself. This is just a new beginning, the beginning of a new dream, a new inspiration or an old one. You can aspire to great things, or you can aspire to just be. If, like me, you’ve nearly died, or you’ve wanted to, simply living is a success. You will inevitably be pulled back in life, or fall behind. But often those things, those decisions and life events, propel you forward.
Step back, take a deep breath, and have faith in yourself and in God. Remember: you are amazing, you are important, you are special, and you are loved.
“Someday, we will find what we are looking for. Or maybe not…
…Maybe we’ll find something much greater.” Anonymous