I have PTSD. Fun huh?
Yeah, not so much. Finding that girl in the garbage bag altered my life in many ways. It left me hypervigilant and afraid. It left me depressed and anxious. But most importantly, it was the end of innocence for me.
You know, for my entire life, I had walked around with the deeply held belief that people were inherently good inside. But finding this girl destroyed that for me. I no longer saw the world as a good, safe place. And people? Huh. Well, people were now things to be feared because now I knew what "people" were capable of because I had seen it with my own eyes.
And trust me, experiencing something with all your senses awake and alive is an entirely different experience than reading about it or seeing it on tv.
So, for three years my life stopped and I sat at home.
I went to counselling every two weeks. I took my medication. I cried a lot and relived that horrible day, every goddamn day. Literally. Every day.
There has honestly not been one single day in the past three and a half years that November 6th 2010 has not ran through my head. Not one day that I haven't thought of the dead girl and the black garbage bag in the forest.
Did I want to think about it? No, absolutely not. I wish I could have forgotten. I have even done EMDR, which is a psychotherapy used in the treatment of PTSD in an attempt to help my PTSD.
But the sights and sounds of that day wouldn't leave me, no matter how much counselling and therapy I received. I finally ended up getting a German Shepherd in 2012 as a companion dog after reading about how soldiers with PTSD have been helped by companion dogs.
It was love at first sight and she is "My Dog" in every sense of the word. I see her as a person with fur and she comes everywhere with me. She has given me so much over the past two years. If I couldn't get out of bed that day, she was laying right beside me. If I was sitting on the couch, she was sitting right beside me. If I had to get groceries, she was there. Wherever I went, the dog went too.
I couldn't leave the house without the dog. She became my security blanket and honestly if it wasn't for her, I would have been become a recluse. Her name is "Nova" and she has been a lifesaver for me. I love her with a fierce intensity generally reserved for family members, because in my mind, she is family to me.
So, how did Stuart Reardon get into this little story of mine?
Well, first let's take a quick look at him because he is extremely beautiful. Isn't he just the most attractive man you've ever seen? I think he is.
Okay, so it was 2013 and I'd just finished writing Temptation Book 1. And like any author that writes a book, I had a very clear picture in my mind of what my characters looked like. However, I am not a terribly good artist and therefore struck out on the internet to "find" my Roan.
I still haven't found him yet, but the closest I've seen is kind of a combination of David Ghandy and Hernan Drago. I was disappointed about not being able to find a suitable representation of Roan but what I did find was a picture of Stuart Reardon. This picture right here, to be exact:
So, after months of following him on Twitter, Liking his Facebook page, reading articles about his career and watching videos about this beautiful man, something really funny started to happen.
I got inspired.
I'm sure you're probably thinking "that's it? That's what Stuart Reardon did for you??" Yes, that's it. Stuart Reardon inspired me. His story of adversity in his professional rugby career was hugely inspiring to me. He'd had three major setbacks in his career when he suffered 3 traumatic injuries that could have ended his career.
But it didn't.
He had 3 separate achilles tendon ruptures and had to undergo reconstruction and physical therapy in order to be able to run again. But he didn't give up.
And with determination and hard work, he was able to come back from each injury. Even more incredible was that he was able to return to rugby each time. Getting better and recovering is one thing but being able to return to rugby was simply amazing. I don't know if you've ever watched rugby but it's a rough sport. It's definitely not for wimps, that's for sure.
As a nurse, I found the fact that he was able to fight and regain his life enormously inspiring because I know that not all patients with a traumatic Achilles rupture are able to return to their former functioning. It was amazing to me that Stu had done it not once, but three separate times! Three freaking times. Now that is truly inspirational. That is someone with a lot of heart and dedication.
How can you not be inspired by someone who's overcome adversity and hardship like that? But that wasn't all. Stu's story didn't end there. There is more and if you'd like to stalk him online too :P go to his Facebook page or go online and find out all about this great guy. I am enormously grateful to him and just love him because he's given me a tremendous gift.
He's given me hope.
Because if he can do it and overcome adversity, then maybe I can do it too and come back from PTSD.
Hope. It's a beautiful, priceless gift and it's honestly something that I never thought I'd ever be able to wrap my hands around again.
So, did Stu play an active part in this? Nope, not at all. We've only emailed a couple of times and I retweet him on Twitter sometimes. We're not friends and we don't hang out. We don't even live in the same country. He's in the UK and I'm in Canada.
No, honestly, I think some people come into your life for a reason. I think it's that simple. You don't meet people by accident. And stumbling upon Stu's picture on the internet that day was no accident. He's changed my life in immeasurable ways. Truly. For the first time in three and a half years, I have motivation and hope. I feel inspired and am starting to live again. It's a miracle to me and I am enormously grateful for Stu and his story.
So far, I have lost 26lbs and I am far from done. Being home for three years does nothing for your health or sex appeal. I also now follow a Paleo diet religiously and go to the gym almost every day. And it all started because of Stuart Reardon.
I am so grateful for him and the struggles he's faced that I could cry.
Please go to his Facebook page and show him some love, it would mean a lot to me as I really have no way to pay him back for what he's done for me. How can you pay someone back for turning your life around?
You can follow him here. I am on his Facebook page quite often as I have become friends with the woman who runs it and I just love her and Stu. They have both given me hope that there are still good people left in the world.
I hope you all have something in your life that makes you feel grateful. It is a wonderful gift.
Much love to you all on this beautiful day,