By Guest Blogger Kay Ledson
There is much being discussed today about depression and suicide. I would like to make some observations from my / our experience with spinal cord injury – I want to say I am not an expert, I am just a Mum/ Mom, who has lived with this injury… Josh (my son) and I have been in this crazy world of SCI for over 14 years, over this time I have spoken to many families that are dealing with this injury, as well as trying to understand what my son Josh was going through.
A spinal cord injury in my opinion is the toughest injury of all, especially a quadriplegic injury, where in most cases at least for a period, everything is lost to the person suffering the injury. It is really important to give someone suffering the injury so much love, respect, hope and support, at the same time encouraging them to try and gain recovery, even when as a loved one you have no idea what those suffering the injury are going through. My goal for Josh was to help him gain his independence back, and keep him fit and focussed, OMG I can’t tell you how hard this was especially after year 3… Josh discusses it in his book, “the darkness”, the being “trapped in his own body”, the constant never ending nerve pain he suffers 24/7 from C5/ T1. He has said for many years, a spinal cord injury is the loneliest injury of all, there is no one injury the same, every injury, every recovery is different.
Josh never had a mentor, someone that understood what he was going through, he was on his own for all those years, then after Bronte had his accident, for the first time in over 7 years Josh had a “soul mate,” someone that understood to a certain extent what each was going through, they were there for each other, and then we so tragically lost Bront, and that was devastating to us … beyond words… There were things I found out about Josh while we were writing the book that I had no idea about, the drugs, the total devastation he went thru after losing his grandmother (my mother) and his 4 mates in the 12 month period, his questioning of himself, what was the point of living a good life where had it got him?? During this period He went on a path of self destruction, I had no idea what to do, all I could do / say was I love you, we will work thru this…
RELENTLESS, for anyone reading it, is a roller coaster of emotions, dark and euphoric. For many years Josh resisted writing his book, but once he made the decision to do it, he knew he had to make it honest and true… In the end the only things that pulled Josh from the abyss was understanding, he had to live for those boys that had died, his grandmother had faith in him always keeping on recovering, and the love of his dogs and he met Amelia… The realization for me during that period was, I could have lost him! Depression is a real issue with SCI, that’s why I established Warrior Momz and that’s why we are active in the community…supporting each other!
A “hero” of mine, an Australian who had an SCI same level as Josh, wrote a book that was given to me a few days after Josh’s accident, I never met him but this book became my bible…He had been in the same hospital same rehab as Josh and I related to him, to his passion to his dealing with his injury, so many times when things were confusing, scary to me in those early days I referred to his book…After that, I read everything he wrote , he was a leader in the community here in Australia… I loved his passion, then one day he committed suicide, I was devastated, angry and scared, my thoughts were if this young man can commit suicide, what hope is there? This was a tough time for me personally yet I knew I had to be positive for Josh and we worked through it.
These days, my family and friends who love and care for me tell me to walk away from what I do, focus on me – but I can’t, I know that devastation, that fear of watching your child with this injury, and in some cases being helpless to help them. With all that has happened, if I can help one family it’s worth it… What I know is that as loved ones we have to recognize the darkness of this injury and do everything possible to bring light and hope to our loved ones…to help them through it.