People always ask me what the worst part about having a brain injury is. After much deliberation I think I have finally come up with an answer. Personally, there is one aspect that outweighs everything else; the amount of doors it has closed.
Growing up, you learn that the better your grades, the harder you work, the more doors will open for you. Up until 2011, this was the path I was taking. It felt like all the doors were open. The best way I can explain to anyone what having a brain injury is like is to imagine all of those doors suddenly slamming shut. Everything you have worked for your whole life is gone, and you have to rebuild entirely from scratch, gradually opening those doors one by one.
Some of the doors that were closed I was able to open myself; relearning to walk was one of these. However, others are beyond my control, so it takes sheer strength and determination to overcome them. According to all the medical professionals, my brain injury makes me unfit to drive, let alone do anything adventurous! This makes no sense to me; I do not have epilepsy and have only ever had seizures when my brain has been inflamed, which it currently is not, due to the copious amount of medication I take to stop this from happening. However, as with many doors that I have found closed on my path to recovery, I found a way to open one this week. And it felt amazing.
So, in the early hours last Thursday I ventured up to Honiton’s Skydive UK Centre to partake in one of the most adventurous activities out there, with my sister and her boyfriend. We were clad in the most unflattering jumpsuits with even more attractive helmets and goggles to match. That was not all though, most importantly, I was wearing my Eden Dora Trust t-shirt; this was the reason I was even contemplating jumping 15,000ft out of an aeroplane without having ticked every medical box (!), strapped into the most uncomfortable harness and putting complete faith in a total stranger.
I have never experienced adrenaline quite like it, you wait around for hours for the British summer weather conditions to make way for a break in the clouds, and then it all happens so quickly. Next thing you know you are what seems like miles up in the air being shuffled along the bench to the open door.
I finally felt free, as that final door opened and we soared to our oblivion. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before, and sharing it with my sister and best friend was more than I could ever have hoped for. Not only that, but raising money for a charity that helps children with encephalitis at the same time.
As my challenges pile up and I am able to do more and more fundraising, I have finally come to realise. Yes, the worst part about having a brain injury is all the doors it closes, but the best part about having a brain injury is all the doors it opens.