The toughest rescue was myself
A small but unforgettable part of my story, one that changed the course of my life!
13-14 years ago my life was pretty good. I was doing well at most things (well apart from school). I liked my work, my friends, sport and fitness. I had a girlfriend and my family was awesome.
I was out one night, it was only early and I think I was sipping my first beer. A guy ran up from behind and king hit me. I didn’t see him coming as he hit me from the side. He knocked me unconscious and fucked up my 4 front teeth. When I regained consciousness, he was on top of me, attacking me. I could taste the blood in my mouth and felt my missing tooth and some other teeth which were bent back at 90 degrees. One of my front teeth was never found. I ended up being rushed to hospital in a neck brace. Fortunately, the spinal damage I received was not near my spinal cord so I was safe to walk around, although it would take me weeks to leave the house and that was really only to go to the dentist (I spent hundreds hours in dentists chairs - I still hate going to the dentist).
After a couple of months, I was back at work. I got a fake front tooth and the dentists did what they could with my other teeth. I looked ok but I was struggling hard mentally to get through each day let alone going to and from the dentists, doctors, police station and other stuff. I probably didn’t realise it at the time but I was suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSS) and started to get really bad anxiety. In addition to the physical damage, I also developed severe allergies that I had never had before. After some meals, my airway in my nose would block up and I would have to breathe through my mouth which makes a restful sleep a challenge (I didn’t really sleep properly after the assault anyway). At other times, I would scratch myself in my sleep, sometimes until I bled, Dermatitis and Eczema were words I hadn’t heard of before but I couldn’t help but scratch. Some Doctors said it was all linked to PTSS.
Oh, I haven’t even mentioned the hate and anger or night mares I was suffering but hopefully you get a little picture of what I was going through. I would like to acknowledge that I felt really lucky to keep my job and I had awesome support from the boys at work. I had huge support from my family and my girlfriend - the medical bills were piling up. Over $50k on the dentist alone.
I’m not sure when or how but I realised I desperately wanted my health back. It became my obsession and for me to do it, I had to make massive changes in my life. I got rid of the sleeping pills, doctors and the medications and I replaced them with naturopaths, acupuncture and massages. At this stage I wasn’t drinking alcohol and didn’t like to be out where alcohol was consumed. I didn’t feel safe around alcohol.
It was a long, tough journey and in some ways, I’m still on it. I’ll try list some major things that helped me with PTSS, anxiety and numerous other health issues.
Celebrating little victories
Trying to do a little bit better in multiple areas of your life and patting yourself on the back for doing so. The combination of these two can have a massive impact. For example, cutting down on things - going from 2 sleeping tablets to 1 tablet a night is an amazing step forward. Another example if you are a smoker, cut down the number of cigarettes you smoke a day before you get to quitting. If drinking is your vice, try not to drink on school nights or just cut back on the number of drinks. Every little step in the right direction is fantastic. I found little steps meant the ultimate goal didn’t seem too unachievable.
There had to be acceptance for what happened. You can’t change the past but you can write the future. After the acceptance, I eventually found gratitude in a number of ways. We all know the one punch victim stories are awful, but I realise I was one of the lucky ones, I could of keen killed. If this assault is the worst thing that happens in my life, I will be very grateful.
Thoughts, Breathing, Hydration, Nutrition, Movement and Rhythm
I learned to influence my mood, my stress level and many other things by controlling other variables in my life. The biggest part of my life that I could easily influence was my diet. Clean eating made the most amazing difference to my mind and body. I cut out processed food, increased my vegetable intake and drank enough quality filtered water - these are 3 tips that I think everyone could benefit from. Processed food often has the 3 major nasties in one hit - sugar, gluten and vegetable oil. Avoid these for better physical health and mental health too.
If you always do what you have always done, then you will always get what you always got. I changed and I didn’t apologise for it. I rebuilt a new, smarter, tougher, stronger, kinder and better me but it took bravery and commitment to change.
Exercise – my drug of choice
Feeling stronger, fitter and more able is so empowering. I encourage everyone to find some form of exercise that they enjoy. Walking is great exercise. I needed to build strength, work on my posture, improve mobility and get back in the ocean.
Being grateful and positive is a practice
Writing down what you are grateful for is highly recommended as is setting new goals, learning new skills and trying to be a better version of yourself.
Less than perfect is ok
I actually became to obsessed with my new lifestyle and got very upset when I couldn’t get everything that I perceived to make me better. The stress of not doing everything right was really affecting me. I needed to learn that some days it was ok not to be perfect. I learnt to accept that balance is a good thing and sometimes you just gotta let shit go.
Don’t go it alone
Rely on your support network. Spend time with your friends and family. Know you are not a burden.
Sometimes it takes losing something to make you realise how important it is to you. For me, as a Lifeguard and Fitness trainer, my health, fitness and strength was tied to my job.
Hopefully others don’t need to lose stuff to realise that it’s important to them.
If you or someone you know needs help, please contact 000 for an emergency or contact any of the following helplines to talk it through:
Beyond Blue: 1300 224636
Lifeline: 13 11 14