It has been a turbulent week in the world of spinal-cord injuries after Caroline March’s letter of her assisted suicide went online.

Several media outlets immediately shared her end-of-life note with the hints that life was not worth living if you are paralysed.

I am not wanting to go into the complexity of the trauma that a spinal-cord injury does to a human’s psychology. But let’s just say there is strong evidence that in the first three years of injury, suicide rates are at their highest. 

I certainly remember back to 2016 when I was first paralysed. My first thought was “I am going to recover”.

I worked six hours a day and it wasn’t until 2017 I had my first “I can’t live” thoughts. 

When I read Caroline’s post I was in fact in a very vulnerable position with the overwhelming impact of hospital and my tumour.

It has given me seven spinal-cord injuries as after every surgery I have to start right back at square one.

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In other words, I am constantly re-injuring my spinal cord and almost never get past that three-year mark that the evidence says are the most challenging regarding suicide. 

As you can imagine, this letter caused many emotions across the spinal-cord-injury community, 
with many posting messages of agreement whilst others spoke 
out against this. 

I didn’t know Caroline or her experience. I only know my own experience and that of a few close friends I met in hospital. 

I won’t lie, as I read it, I was also thinking of my own death.

I thought all this pain and suffering will end if I die, but as I hear those thoughts in my mind, I also reminded myself of what Viktor Frankl said about suffering: “If there is meaning in the suffering then in some ways the suffering ceases to be suffering”.

I have pondered this quote for hours so I am very clear of the meaning in my life.

I have done lots of mental work around this very topic, which I know has helped me massively.

My biggest worry is for those who are newly injured. What about the person who was injured today and is lying in hospital after being told you will never walk again. 

What if they read the media report. After all, it is stories like this that gain traction over stories about, for example, a paralysed woman thriving in life. 

Now, I don’t want to undermine anyone’s suffering or say a Viktor Frankl quote can save your life, but I do know there is plenty of help out there from charities such as the Back-Up Trust, Spinal Injuries Association and Spinal Injuries Scotland.

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They offer support to everyone who is injured, and this is important for those newly injured as it gives hope. I know how much hope (or, as I also like to call it, realistic optimism) gives me in moving from those thoughts of death to ones of “I can live a good life with my injury”.

Of course, daily life can be hard and there are days where I can’t get the energy to even leave bed, but there are so many people doing great things out there even with paralysis. I hope these stories help more people. 

As I sat unable to even leave my flat, I turned on Netflix and watched the movie documentary Full Circle. 

It is a true story that interlinks the lives of a young snowboarder, Trevor Kennison, and the legendary sportsman Barry Corbet and how they faced life with paralysis. 

I am a believer that things and people come to us when we most need them. I knew I didn’t want my life to end, I want to keep fighting, and I also know it is London that is pulling me into this mind set of “I can’t keep going”.

Environment plays a big part in our wellbeing and even more so when you are living paralysed. I know I need the mountains. 

The beauty of Full Circle is that it doesn’t just show the extreme sports side of both athletes and the incredible challenges they undertook.

It gives the viewer an insight into the harder side of paralysis such as bowel, bladder and usually the unspoken topic of sexual function. 

It takes the viewer on a journey of the highs and the lows. I felt instant inspiration, but that was not enough.

I still could not leave my bed, overcome with anxiety of navigating London with my injury.

I could not find the strength in me to get past my front door this week. It is why I have empathy for Caroline’s decision but also why I hope that those newly injured don’t only read her story.

I hope they find the hope and strength in the spinal-cord-injury community to show that we can still live a good life.  This is something that I am going to do now and to find the strength to get myself into the mountains.