Since receiving my head injury in 2014 something that’s both incredible and daunting has been occurring within me. Having always addressed any given situation with the ability to analyse with both sides of my brain (female and male perspectives) there’s now something else I can add to my encounters. Having the ability to view my past with new vision has proven interesting, demanding and somewhat unnerving at times but it has made a writer out of me. Writing has allowed me to make sense of situations and decisions and has acted as a therapy. However, it runs far deeper than this.
Fundamentally, the injury has changed how my brain works. Most brains filter incoming information, allowing just enough data to enter through each of our senses. Not mine. Viewing life as a complete sensory overload of information I find the best way for me to process what has occurred in my past and on a daily basis is through the written word. Truthfully, it’s the only way I can comprehend what I witness some days. Maybe, with more time, this will improve (four and a half years post-injury is a fair while though). My training and knowledge in psychology allows me to understand what’s happening inside my head, for which I’m hugely grateful–without this I think I’d have gone mad by now.
Applying my new-found sensory overload problems to my writing is as simple and as demanding as this: with imagination of a scene comes empathy and I place myself in the situation of my characters, as all good authors do. Taking this a step further, and perhaps I’m foolish to do this, I allow my senses to ‘feel’ each scene as they develop (even the nasty ones). Without any filters in place my brain isn’t capable of restricting the emotional turmoil of the scenes I write which ensures a raw and authentic experience for my readers. Often overwhelmed by this I can end up in a dark place for a while and it has been known to result in a seizure bought on by stress. Over time, however I’ve learned where my boundaries are and have found balance. Even so, it’s not always easy.
Through my writing I express my knowledge of psychology and criminology and I am doing that through my thrillers. Several aspects of my ramblings outside these areas are also in the process of becoming books and are based on deeply personal journeys. It won’t be easy to share them publicly but share them I will because I’m ready to show the world how important it is to fight back after life-changing events.
Without doubt my assault was a traumatic experience and my recovery has been a slow one with many set-backs along the way. Stressful experiences can, however result in psychological growth. This doesn’t mean any negative effects of the trauma suddenly vanish. In point of fact its important we embrace the significance of them in order to learn, embrace stronger bonds with those close to us and begin a journey of self-discovery.
Trauma enabled me. It disabled me too but that’s never my focus these days. Without trauma I’d not have written my debut novel Broken at this time in my life nor would its sequel Betrayal be in its final stages of completion. There wouldn’t be any poetry or other projects in which I’ve become involved. My life would have continued on a completely different path to the one I’m now on—yet despite the pain, turmoil and upheaval I have endured, would I change where I am now? The answer is simple, No I wouldn’t.
Trauma and I are no strangers to one another. Over the years we’ve been introduced a few times and so I’ve learnt to deal with it. With the attitude ‘what hasn’t killed me has made me stronger’, it truly has made a strong woman of me. That said, I’m not super-human and there are days I don’t know how I get out of bed. Faced with a combination of complex health issues which includes intense pain I have a choice in life—to live it or crumble and give in. Choosing to fight on and discover where my journey will take me is so important to me. What lays around the corner intrigues me beyond belief and I cannot wait to discover where my new path leads.
Recently I was reminded of something I’d written almost a year ago—that ‘…until you’ve almost lost it all you don’t truly appreciate what you have in life’. These words still ring true for me today, as strongly now as when they were first written. I was speaking of life. Ironically, because of my injury I now feel that I’ve found my niche. Placing perspective on this concept I often find myself asking how I can justify that thought: how can that possibly be appropriate? Acquiring a head injury from being assaulted changed my life beyond recognition but it’s enabled me to discover new capabilities. As a direct result of receiving life-changing injuries, I have found my purpose and that seed was sewn through writing my debut novel.
Throughout adulthood I’ve been compelled to write – from somewhere deep within me there’s a need to express myself through words on a page. Over the years I’ve amassed many plots, characters and piles of notebooks full of ideas waiting to be developed. Ideas pour through my fingertips as easily as conversation between friends. Until now I’ve not been compelled to share my ramblings with the world. When we’re faced with life-threatening circumstances, our outlook on life shifts.
I’d not wish what happened to me on anyone. Being assaulted and unable to escape, despite being trained to the level I had been to restrain a person, was truly horrific. I wasn’t your average mental health specialist and nor was I working within a normal run-of-the-mill job. Luckily I’m a feisty character and have a fighting spirit in me. Rather than collapse, I overcame the situation. I was, however broken and my recovery has been a long, slow journey. Its a journey that continues but thanks to writing I’ve found stability.
Writing, after my head injury, gave me new direction. It enabled me to focus on something other than what had happened to me, giving me new ambition. The result is one that fills me with such pride. Becoming an author has given me a future and has stirred a determination in me to make necessary changes to my life. In shifting my goals I’ve attained new heights of achievement, which has had such a positive effect on my mental well-being.
Not only has writing opened doors to some fantastic opportunities, but its enabled me to meet some incredible, talented and inspirational people I’d otherwise not have had the fortune to have come across. Its to those people I owe such gratitude for they have shown me support, understanding and love in a world where it could so easily be different from that. The diversity of the people I’ve now met through writing, both because I’m an author and because I’m stepping into film, is phenomenal, humbling and all-inspiring. If that’s not enough to spur me on, the support I get from those who read my work touches me every single day. Writing will, therefore always be a part of the new me!