Over the past couple of months I have really tried to take a break when it comes to encephalitis. I wouldn’t say that I have shut the door on that part of my life completely, but I have certainly opened new ones which has meant that encephalitis has taken a bit of a back seat.
This hasn’t necessarily been a conscious decision. Yes, at times I have been fed up of being known as “that ill girl” or “the girl with some brain problem”, but if truth be told, I tried to use that as a positive; sharing my story, helping others, and growing as a person because of it. But whatever the reason why, I have tried to distance myself from the world of brain injury.
I suppose what’s really struck me today is how the Encephalitis Society’s #showyouknow campaign has left me feeling.
Sat at my computer, looking through the entries, I was expecting (now that I’ve taken a step back) to view them from an outsiders perspective. I thought that chapter had ended. I truly believed I was past being “brain injured girl”.
But that was not how it made me feel.
There is something so powerful in seeing your own feeling expressed by another person on a platform that is available to the masses.
Watching those short films, looking through those photographs and digital art, it stirred up feelings I thought had been buried deep down.
One quote really hit home. I can’t remember it in its entirety (blame the brain injury) but it went something along the lines of:
“encephalitis takes so much away, even lives. But with what encephalitis hasn’t stolen, let’s build something beautiful…”
So I suppose that is what I need to take from this. I have always been prone to seeing the world in black and white. I am either fully engaged in something or completely uninterested. I have a tendency to see people as either good or bad, and can sometimes have a sense of things being right or wrong, with nothing in between.
But what I need to do is realise there are so many other shades of grey; but not just grey, all the colours.
I don’t have to be known as “the girl that had encephalitis” and I don’t have to be known as “just Liz”. I need to find a happy medium, a place in between, where I am not defined by my illness but where I can stand proud of what my illness has helped me to achieve.
Encephalitis is the worst and yet the best thing that ever happened to me. Whatever else life has to throw at me, I now know I can make it through. And today I think I truly realised what it means.
My life is not the blackness of encephalitis. My life is not the whiteness of being well. My life is a rainbow of opportunity that is open for me, where the black and white create something beautiful.
This is the entry my friend Jenny has in the ‘wild card’ category:
If you do have a moment, please take some time to look through some of the entries and spare a thought for what encephalitis can do.