Can trauma bring out the best in you?

I think about this a lot and often wonder how my life would be if I didn't suffer a brain trauma in 2010. Would things be dramatically different?

Prior to my TBI (traumatic brain injury) I found that I was quite stubborn and angry all the time. I always had an answer to everything and was fairly nonchalant about where my life was heading. I had a great Marketing role, I had bought a house - I was in a good place and wasn't focused on where I wanted to go next.

Recently I was part of a panel on SBS Insight and my parents were in the audience. One of the questions directed to my dad was "Has your daughter changed since the aneurysm?" to which he replied "Yes definitely. I feel like I got my little girl back". Hearing him say things like that really breaks my heart - what kind of a monster was I before!? I guess the change that suffering a TBI caused, turned out to be a positive one eventually. 

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

My TBI almost killed me. I now have a choice to remain complacent or I can really take hold of my life. Which is exactly what I will continue to do. What I went through is not for the weak:

  • Surgeries and procedures - one which my husband had to sign a waiver every single time it happened as it had a high risk of death and complication.
  • Learning to walk, talk and regain cognitive function.
  • Medical debt - it would've been cheaper to die #truestory
  • Unemployment.
  • Lack of government aid.
  • Ongoing mental and emotional health issues. 
  • The acceptance and understanding that life as I knew it had been turned upside down.

So can a traumatic experience be turned into a triumph? 

Firstly, you can't predict a trauma or how you react to it. So being resilient is one of life's teachings that can help you through most traumatic and challenging times. In my next event I'll discuss ways to build resilience and why it is so important and useful in almost all parts of our lives - both personal and professional.

Another old saying that relates to trauma is "it'll either make you or break you". Throughout my journey I have definitely "broken" more than once. I'm not ashamed to admit that I became the victim and blamed the world for what was happening to me. I had no idea why this happened to me and found myself questioning if my life was worth living at times. This is fairly common for survivors of trauma and is a heavy load to carry. But once I realised there was only one way out of this funk, there was no stopping me. 

My life now is amazing, I have wonderful opportunities and keep creating ideas for me to try. I love to push my boundaries because I know what I am truly capable of (if I can survive TBI, I can take on anything!). So in short my answer is YES. Trauma can be turned into triumph and it has absolutely brought out the very best in me. It isn't easy, but anything is possible.

Here are some of my favourite people who have turned challenges into amazing triumphs:

  • Maya Angelou - a victim of childhood rape, now influencing the world through poetry and activism.
  • Richard Branson - suffered from dyslexia and is now one of the worlds most inspiring entrepreneurs.
  • Nelson Mandela - Imprisoned for 27yrs only to become South Africa’s first democratically elected President.
  • Angelina Jolie - battled with drug addiction, anorexia and mental illness to become a successful humanitarian and actor. 

My next event focuses on Turning Trauma into Triumph. Hope to see you there.