Living with a Disability

It took a long time for me to feel comfortable with myself. My teens had passed in a blur of self-loathing regarding my body (tape measure, thighs and many tears; need I say more?)
In my twenties, I had my first two children. I adored being a mum and left my full-time job to become self-employed. It was a gamble and incredibly hard work but I didn’t want to be stuck in an office while my children learned to talk, to walk, and I wanted to instil a strong work ethic into my boys. By the time I reached my thirties, I had settled into a career of holistic therapy, had three happy, healthy children, great friends and a beautiful house in a village environment.

What could possibly go wrong? Umm, quite a lot as it happens.

I had experienced Pelvic Girdle Pain throughout my last two pregnancies, to the extent that I couldn’t walk at all with my third child. After the birth I spent a year receiving intensive physio, I regained a good portion of my mobility although my pelvis was never pain-free but I was working towards being able to run again. I was optimistically driving to a physio appointment when somebody crashed into the back of my car and in seconds all my hard work unravelled. I sustained some damage to my spine, my ligaments tore and my weakened pelvis became even more unstable.

Although I was in too much pain to stand or walk unaided it never actually crossed my mind that could now be my permanent state. I had worked hard on my health before and I was prepared to again. However, after numerous tests, x-rays and MRI scans when my consultant uttered the words, “I am sorry there is nothing we can do for you”, I felt such a huge blind panic I could literally feel me retreating inside of myself and that’s where I intended to stay.

It isn’t hard to be invisible in a wheelchair or using crutches. I felt like nobody saw me anymore but then I didn’t know who I wanted them to see.

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I didn’t know who I was. I felt sad. Lonely. Afraid. But worse than that was the feeling I’d failed my children. I longed for the days we’d go for dog walks, cycle rides, play football in the garden.

My business folded and we had to move house and I struggled to find someone who would employ me.

At a loss with how to fill my time, I started to write. As a child, I’d always wanted to be an author and although it had been years since I’d written, my passion came flooding back. I found myself absorbed in the story of two best friends, Grace and Charlie. Charlie dies leaving behind a note, ‘I’ve done something terrible Grace, please forgive me’ and Grace sets out to discover the mystery behind Charlie’s last words. Soon I was waking in the middle of the night, but it wasn’t the only pain that had woken me, it was ideas for plot twists. I fell utterly in love with Grace and Charlie and the more I wrote, the more my blackness lifted and my love of life returned. My children had their mum back.

I never had big dreams or ambitions but after I’d finished my story a friend persuaded me to submit it and to my delight, I was offered a book deal. The Sister was published last July and soon became a No. 1 Bestseller on Amazon. To date it has sold over half a million copies, was nominated for the Goodreads Debut of 2016 Award and has also been longlisted for the Crime Writers’
Association Dagger Awards which will take place later this year.

My second novel, The Gift, is the story of Jenna who after receiving a heart transplant has strange dreams and memories and becomes convinced her donor didn’t really die in an accident. The Gift was published in December and was also a No.1 Bestseller.

Being an author is incredibly hard work, not only the writing but the marketing and the research. Suffering from chronic pain means I get very tired and like any other working mum it can be a juggling act but I feel incredibly grateful every day that I’ve managed to turn my hobby into a career. More important than the sales and awards though was the look of pride on my children’s faces at my book launch. It’s been a tough ten years but life has a way of turning around when you least expect it and I finally feel excited about the future again.

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