If you are following me on Instagram or Facebook then you will have seen me doing the 30 Day Photography Challenge for the last month. This is the final picture of the challenge. Day 30 ‘Self portrait’. It was the hardest picture I’ve taken so far.
I had an appointment first thing in the morning at the optometrists. It was time to check whether the vision issues were all from the concussion or if I had actually hit my eye in the fall as well. (Click here for the vlog of the accident I had on the Routeburn track). I assumed they would tell me everything was all good. As a photographer, having a problem with my eyes is literally my worst nightmare so I repeatedly told myself everything would be fine, so much so that I completely believed it. When they found something wrong I felt like I was back lying on the side of the mountain again. I was crushed.
(Damaged pupil shown on the right)
I cried the whole way home. I climbed into bed and cried some more. My dog has now officially put so many hours in comforting me after this concussion that he qualifies as a licensed therapist. He takes his job very seriously and is very professional in his bedside manner as he cuddles into me and licks the tears off my cheeks.
I needed to distract myself so I checked the photography challenge list to see what the picture for the day was. Self portrait. I looked in the mirror. My face was swollen from crying and mascara was streaked down my cheeks but all I could see was my damaged left eye. The last thing I wanted to do was to take a self portrait. I didn’t want to look at my face anymore. I went back to bed. The dog took his place beside me and I cried myself to sleep.
I woke up the next day and the tears flowed again. I stared at my face in the mirror, stared at my eye. I felt weak and broken and hopeless. 3 months of my life a complete blur after a fall that took 3 seconds. I was in a dark place mentally.
I didn’t want to feel like that anymore. I didn’t want to feel weak, but every time I tried to take a picture I would start crying again. This was the last day of the challenge, I wanted to end it on a positive note not with me crying my eyes out.
I pictured the person I wanted to be. I wanted to be strong, I wanted to be a warrior. I wanted to fight for myself, to get my life back. I wanted to stand up and face this new challenge head on. So that’s what I did. I put on war paint. I had to stop crying to do it, I’m not a make up artist so it took a lot of concentration to get it right. I looked at myself in the mirror afterwards and I smiled.
It’s ok to not be ok. It’s ok to cry. It doesn’t mean you’re not a warrior. I thought back on all the other obstacles that I have already overcome from this accident. I looked at myself in my war paint and I knew I would overcome this new obstacle too. Give yourself time to grieve, to be sad, don’t just shove it back down. I thought back to the accident on the mountain, how I managed to run the last 16km home, completely alone with a broken nose and a severe head injury.
When we are down we only think of the bad stuff, we remember the worst bits. I was thinking of the impact instead of what happened afterwards. I got myself through that and I will get myself through this.
One foot in front of the other. Cry your eyes out but keep breathing and moving.
Every now and then put on your war paint and remind yourself how far you have come.
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