When we heard that Becki Cobb and Simon Commins had published a book documenting their experience after stroke we couldn’t wait to read it. HiddenInMe is an open and honest account of two young stroke survivors learning to adapt to the new challenges ahead of them. We recommend it to everyone.
Recently, we had the opportunity to ask author Becki about life, inspiration and perseverance against the odds. Her words were as heartwarming as you would expect and we were delighted to learn what’s next in store for her.
How did your life change after your stroke?
Wow, everything changed and at the same time, nothing changed. I was still me and yet, I couldn’t move in the way I wanted to or do a lot of the things I’d always loved doing. For me it was mostly physical, I was paralysed down my left-hand side and my fatigue was extreme, so I had to rely on others to take me to places which was something I wasn’t used to at all and I have to rest a lot – even now. But alongside all the negatives I also learnt to be more determined, patient and understanding than I ever had been before.
How do you stay positive when things get hard?
I try to check in with myself regularly and remember how far I have come. Some days are better than others and when things are getting hard again, for example when I’m getting botox injections in my leg for high spasticity, it can sometimes feel like a real set back. I have to remember it will hopefully help in the long run. At these times it helps to look back at all the work I’ve put into my recovery and how far I’ve come since the beginning.
What inspired you to write HiddenInMe?
I always say HiddenInMe was Simon’s idea because he’d always wanted to write a book, but I kept a blog for the first two years of my recovery (ironically up to just after the point where I met him) so I had some passion for writing. I can’t remember exactly how or when we started writing but I know we had spoken about it for a while. We felt our story was special and hoped that by sharing what we’d overcome and how it led us together, it might lead to others who are going through a similar thing to look at what’s happened to them in a different light.
What does being a stroke survivor mean to you?
Being a stroke survivor means being vulnerable and strong, overcoming obstacles and finding the strength that’s hidden within you.
What is the best part of being a stroke survivor?
I love thinking about all the people I wouldn’t have met or the things I wouldn’t have experienced if it had never happened. Doing this makes me realise I wouldn’t change a thing. For example, it’s unlikely I would have crossed paths with my boyfriend Simon who survived a brain haemorrhage aged 17, and we never would have written the book. I’ve also been lucky enough to work with different charities, speak at a variety of events, support other stroke survivors, and meet new friends through groups like a disability swimming club, who I would unlikely have shared a hobby with beforehand. Ultimately, remembering the people who have come into my life because of what happened helps me to remember the positive side of stroke.
What is the hardest part of being a stroke survivor?
The hardest part for me is the physical and mental exhaustion of living as a ‘normal’ as possible day to day life. It often means I have to work twice as hard as somebody without a brain injury to achieve the same thing, and it can be exhausting!
Which lesson has been the most important to learn?
The most important lesson has been that no matter how bad things can look, amazing things can grow even in the darkest of places.
What piece of advice would you give to other stroke survivors?
The advice I would give would be to keep going. Things might be harder but you can still get to where you want to be, it just might take a little longer. Try everything you can think of to help you get there. The best advice I received from a stroke survivor a few months after my stroke was that if something could help me even as little as 1% it was worth trying, so try everything!
We are expanding HiddenInMe by starting to work with people like us who have acquired disabilities and who might feel like their life has been turned upside down. We’re supporting them in learning to rebuild a life they love through life & personal coaching. It’s a really exciting way for us to use our experiences to help others in similar situations as us and we are looking forward to hearing from anyone who might be interested in finding out more.