Mine is not a standard birth story but it is one that I have been trying to write for the last fifteen years, unable to know where to begin.
For the people who know me now, as a wife, mother and successful business woman my words may be even harder to take in but after fifteen years of procrastinating here is the story of my birth.
The morning of Thursday 5th May 1994 began like every other day except that was the day I was going to die.
I had suffered in silence (mostly) with an illness so sever that it was about to erase me whilst at the same time leave an innocent little boy without a mummy.
Of course with hindsight – I know that I had been suffering from sever post natal depression for the three and a half years since I gave birth to my son when I was little more than a child myself.
I had travelled along a dark and unhappy path in those three and a half years. Littered with excess excess and fraught emotions. Living on tinned tomatoes and toast so that I could support us both.
But it was too much for me. Even though I was in constant contact with my family I was living on a fragile deserted island and I couldn’t take anymore.
That Thursday morning I dropped my boy at my sister’s house explaining that I had a few errands to run. I kissed him, held him and willed him to be strong.
I drove my fathers car into the city and parked it where I knew it would be easily found and made my way to the top of the car park.
The fine rain had turned into that horrible wet drizzle and the street below me was mostly void of shoppers. I stood there looking, thinking, crying for an age. I was so angry with myself, with the world, with all of the people who should have helped me, that should have made me better.
I felt weak, useless and pathetic.
One side of my head was screaming JUMP, JUMP, JUMP but I was scared. Really scared, really, really scared.
I realised that I couldn’t do it. I didn’t have it in me. I was so useless that I couldn’t even do this - that I couldn’t end it.
And so I jumped.
The irony is that I didn’t manage to end it. I have since been told that I am the only person ever to survive jumping the 75ft from the top of that multi-storey car park. It happens a lot more than you know.
I was conscious and able to give next of kin details to the paramedics that came to save me and then things get a little fuzzy. I remember the pain and oddly I remember a floaty feeling as I looked down seeing myself lying on a trolley, as I was shocked back to life.
Then it was a week later. I had spent 20 hours in theatre as the surgeons tried to put me back together again. My leg injuries were explained to me by a doctor;
“If you hit a Crunchie Bar with a hammer,” he said. “That is what you have done to your feet.”
I was numb.
Then came the spinal surgeon – totally lacking in bedside manner.
“Well young lady, what a totally selfish and stupid thing to do. You do realise that with your injuries, you will never walk again.”
I was devastated.
Irony number 2 – I was a dancer. I had been dancing all my life. I danced through school and on to a post sixteen dance training. I won a coveted place in the National Youth Dance Company. I was a dancer – full stop. That was me.
So here I was. In hospital and not only wasn’t I dead, but I was now facing life in a wheelchair too.
For the record, I smashed both of my feet into a million pieces, and my right ankle too. I landed so perfectly that my spine did its primary job as a shock absorber and crushed four of my vertebrae in the process. (All those hours of ballet training kicked in when I least expected it!)
Of course I should have been dead. But I wasn’t and it took me a long time to see this chance for what it really was for me.
It wasn’t my day to go. I did have another chance and although my progress has been slow and painful I have come through my self inflicted misery and built a better life for myself and for my boy.
Over the years journalist friends have tried to coax my story into print but my fear of being judged and condemned for what I did has always ensured my silence.
In truth, I have been selfish by keeping my story because do you know what?
I can walk. I can cycle, I can swim, I can work, I got married, I had babies (3 of them!), I have a business, I have friends, I have love and more than anything I have hope.
My recovery has been long and painful. I have screamed and cried and I live with the pain of my injuries and the pain of not being able to dance every single day. But if I did have the ability to go back to that morning, I would take the very same route.
I know now that I was given a chance that day to right all of the wrongs.
Sure this is a condensed speed blog version of my story but in its brevity or entirety the result is the same. A personal triumph over adversity – my rebirth.
If you know anyone who is suffering from PND, please, please try and reach out to them - they could really do with your time and attention. And if you think that you have PND, please, please, please tell someone how you are feeling. It may just save your life.
|After months in hospital I'd dropped from 10st of muscle to under 6st. I was like a bag of broken bones.|
Please do leave comments on this post. I really didn't know if writing it was the correct thing to do. But I know now that it was. I have had emails and tweets from people with PND and people who have friends with PND and if I can be of any help please do let me know.
Your comments (good or bad) really show the support that is out there for this dreadful illness.
Feature in Mother & Baby Magazine
Feature in Mother & Baby Magazine