I’m Hannah, I am 27 years old and grew up in Cambridge, UK where I still currently live. I have been lucky enough to also spend a few years of my life living in North Island New Zealand. I am the Head of Netball at a private school and also a personal trainer / coach.
I love travelling the world and visiting new places to explore different cultures. I am an extremely positive person about life and am surrounded by the most amazing, most supportive people.
Throughout my life I have been an extremely outgoing, energetic and active person. Someone who likes a challenge, someone who likes to get involved and someone who is extremely competitive, however…
Back in 2007, when I was at secondary school in year 10 I was diagnosed with something called Guillain-Barre Syndrome. You’re probably all wondering, firstly, how on earth do you pronounce that (ghee-yan bar-ray) and secondly, what on earth is that? Simply...G-BS is a very rare and serious condition that affects the nerves. It affects people in different ways; it can start with pins and needles and slight muscle weakness, to complete loss of control, paralysis and even breathing difficulties. For me… Overnight I went from having a chest infection and having slight pins and needles in my fingers and toes, to waking up the following day not being able to fully use my limbs. The scariest experience of my life.
I tried to have a bath to see if that would help my muscles, but ended up get completely stranded in the bath and having to have someone come in and lift me out as I didn’t have the strength or function to lift myself. My mum and I ended up in A&E, rushed straight through and instantly was having tests done left, right and centre. The worst one? Electromyography – where they stick electrodes all over your body and give you small little shocks to test whether there is a disruption between your nerves and muscles. Basically giving you lots of little electrical shocks. After all the poking and prodding, ruling out all possibilities, they diagnosed me with G-BS.
I spent the next few weeks in D2, a children’s ward, tucked tightly in a hospital bed; not being able to move; having people feed and wash me; and having nurses and doctors continually drag a sharp plastic stick up the bottom of my feet to see if my reflexes had improved. At one point, I almost ended up in intensive care because every time I drifted off to sleep, my oxygen dropped too low – I stayed up alllllll night that night, to make sure I didn’t go on a ventilator or need a feeding tube. I had intense physical therapy everyday, my mum massaged me constantly throughout my stay and I had the most amazing support of people that came to visit me on a daily basis.
When I left the hospital, I continued having intense physiotherapy sessions every day. I had to learn how to use my muscles again; I had to relearn how to walk again and even do simple things like doing up a zip and writing. My friends used to love pushing me around in my wheelchair – every cloud has a silver lining, and all that jazz.
You are probably wondering…what on earth does this have to do with mental health, right? It took me a lonnggggg time to physically recover from G-BS. However it took me even longer to recover mentally.
For a long time I was anxious of everything from having a bath in case I got stuck again, the taste of Calpol because I was continually given so much of it whilst in hospital; being tucked in too tightly in a my bed because that’s how I was stuck for most of my time in hospital; getting pins and needles in my hands and feet; going to bed at night because I was scared to wake up paralysed again…the list goes on. Even today, over 10 years later, some of those things affect me and I get extremely anxious about any of those things happening. However it is getting better and thankfully on a day to day basis it does not affect me.
I am now in the gym on a daily basis, lifting heavy shit, being able to move in ways at one point in time I never thought would be possible and enjoying every bloody second of it. I was and still am extremely lucky. I am extremely lucky to be able to move, to breath, to live.
Everyone has a story. Everyone is affected by their mental health.