Today’s post is from Danielle, who I’ve known since high school back when we were in Italian class together and both worked as hostesses at the local diner. We’ve kept in contact on Facebook where I’ve been following her fitness journey over these last few months. When I heard the back story behind it all, I knew her words needed to be shared with a larger audience.
Thank you for being brave and sharing your story with us, Danielle.
Hi all! My name is Danielle or Dani to family and friends. I am a stay-at-home mom of three amazing kids ages six and below. My kids are my world and I am blessed to be able to stay home with them. However, being a stay-at-home mom was not the path that I would have chosen for myself, but one that I was forced down. After six years, it is still difficult to come to terms with that.
Here is my story:
Back in March a friend of mine approached me about a health and fitness challenge. At first, I had no interest although I knew I was overweight and wasn’t in the best of health. At the time, it seemed like the challenge would just be another stressor that neither my husband nor I needed. We were in a really bad place at that time, individually and as a couple.
On May 17th, 2008 our lives were forever changed. After spending a relaxing day at my parents’ who lived close by, we headed home. We could never have imagined what would happen next. As we drove through an intersection, our lives flashed before our eyes. A man ran his red light and t-boned us, hitting the side that our just turned 2-month-old baby boy and I were sitting on. All I remember is everything spinning and going black.
When I came to, all that came to my mind was my baby. Fear rushed over us as we tried to get our son out of the car. He was not crying, moving or making a sound. He was not alert. All we could think of was that our precious baby was taken from us or severely injured. Thankfully, that baby is now a healthy, energetic 6-year-old.
However, my husband and I didn’t walk away injury free. From the outside I may look totally fine but I suffer deeply from the inside. I was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury which has caused many cognitive issues, PTSD, anxiety, depression, OCD, adjustment disorder, chronic migraines and a herniated disk in my neck. The past six years have been extremely difficult. Things that were once easy and enjoyable are now overwhelming and an enormous task. Things I once knew, I no longer did and that just made life more frustrating for me.
I became a shut in. I was afraid to get in a car and drive, I didn’t want to leave my house, I didn’t want to see people, friends and family included. I had zero patience. I couldn’t get out of bed most days because I was so sad. In addition, the career I was looking forward to returning to after my maternity leave was no longer an option. My injuries were too severe. I think not being able to return to work hurt me more than my actual injuries. My job gave me purpose and now it was being taken away.
I had come to hate myself. I am aware of things that I was once capable of and now I see how much effort it takes to do even a 1/8 of that. I had lost my identity as well mainly because I couldn’t return to work. I was supposed to have the career, the happy marriage and the happy family. The injuries I sustained have also affected my marriage and kids. I am not the person that my husband fell in love with and married. It affects the kids as well. Our son has been recently diagnosed with anxiety and I feel that I am to blame.
After three kids and lots of baby weight, my depression only got worse. I hated to look at myself in the mirror. I was ashamed of the woman that I had become on the inside and out. I told myself that I just sucked at every aspect of my life.
Two years ago the doctors told me my injuries were permanent and I had to learn to cope with them. I accepted that fact because I had lost all hope. Deep down inside I knew things were going to eventually change because I could not live the rest of my life like this.
So when my friend approached me back in March, even though I gave every excuse I could think of, I also knew that maybe this was just the opportunity I needed. Well I opened the door and it was the best decision I ever made.
Now, more than twenty pounds lighter and several inches smaller, I recognize the woman in the mirror. I am more confident inside and out. I have less headaches and I am much happier. I still suffer from my injuries, but where would I be if I didn’t take this leap of faith? My journey is just starting and I will not stop. I hope to inspire others to never give up no matter what hurdles life throws at you.
Danielle lost weight and got in shape with the help of a Beach Body coach and then decided to become a coach herself because of her success. Check out her Beach Body website to find out more. You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram (@gallipolifam).
Please leave her some love and encouragement in the comments!