Does it ever feel like your whole life revolves around one moment in time, the moment in time that changes everything?
For me, that time was a specific day. June 20th 2011. I think it was a Monday. It is a day that I will never forget (even though I have no memory of it). It is the day that I had my first seizure. The day that encephalitis took over my life.
I have come to the conclusion this will be the final time I completely engross myself in all things brain related. It is not because I do not enjoy it, it is not because I do not find it rewarding, no, it is because my life seems to have become absorbed with brain injury.
It was only as I sat here thinking about what to write that I realised just how much having encephalitis has formed the life I live today.
It is what I think about when I first wake up in the morning and what I dream about when I sleep at night. I find myself talking at people rather than to them, trying to link everything they say to my brain injury. I like to call it my ‘encephalitis word-vomit’; it is as though I just can’t help myself.
All that begin said; I would not change the past four years for anything. My illness has shown me just how beautiful the world can be. Not only do I now appreciate every spring bud, every rolling hill and every morning sunrise, I can also see the beauty in the people that I spend time with, a beauty that I could never see before.
Being given this path has shown me that I am stronger than I could ever believe. It has given me the confidence to know myself, and to realise just how precious life is, in every sense of the word.
One of the aspects that I will miss the most about moving on with my life is the people. Before my encephalitis I lived in a selfish world, where all I could think about was myself. Being able to listen to other’s stories and learn from them has been one of the most integral parts of my recovery and is what I believe has brought me to where I am today.
But the thing is, is this: I do not want to be known as the girl that had encephalitis anymore.
I want to be me.
I want to be Elizabeth Oldershaw.
I want to be free.
And the only way I can do it is to start living my life for me. Away from the world of brain injuries and disabilities. Away from the constant reminders of what my life has become.
A new life, a new me.
So, as we speak, I am packing my bags for a new adventure. I will be spending the next six months away from all things brain related. I will be skiing down pistes without a care in the world, cooking and cleaning until the cows come home.
I will be me.
I will be enjoying being me.
Here is a little video of me, enjoying being me! I made this video for my Dad after our ski trip in 2014 to Chamonix…