(Photograph Ivan Kemp)

Do you like this picture of me?

When I see this photo of myself, I see someone proud and accomplished. My posture reflects inner strength and confidence – I am the gallery director hosting the opening of a very special exhibition and nothing but!

It was a long day with a private event for patrons followed by a dinner – I’ve never faced a day like this since my injury in 2007.

Fortunately, Theo rarely gets sick and needs my help (damn covid!). So this was an emergency, and I needed to act. My body automatically went into fight mode.

Aside from a few moments where I thought, ‘I’m going to have to go home now’, I felt capable I was going to make it putting aside thoughts of the consequences that would face me the next day and weeks.

Try as I might, after the feeling of utter triumph, the spasms came! The tongue spasm was a surprise – my brain always seems to come up with something new!

I laughed that one off. I could. And I went back to celebrating the fact I had hit another milestone.

Just look at that image… I can confirm I was mind multitasking like never before. I was doing one thing and thinking, ‘What’s next?’ while planning how to navigate the 30 beautiful patrons in the room.

To me, the calculations going on in my head were mammoth! And all the while, people around me were looking at a woman speaking with ease, I assume. They listened and watched while I lapped up the blissful faces, unable to detect an underlying struggle (except for the two divine humans who were asked to help).

With my life experience, I couldn’t pan the room without wondering what each person might be dealing with behind their happy facades.

I will use this photo to prove to my brain that I can manage my challenges. What I like most is that the woman in the picture relates to the younger one I was pre injury in my 30s.

It captures an unwavering determination to overcome challenges, reminding me that I have built some resilience to manage, no matter how difficult a situation.

Do you have one of these images? Go get it. Go stare at it… put it somewhere where you can see it all day. Let it infuse your brain. If you don’t have a happy action shot, get someone to take one of you!

Enlarge the brief exhilarating moments and shrink the awful painful ones.

Making progress is an ongoing battle, especially after a trauma like a 4.5-year misdiagnosis. This is my reality, and I always hope you don’t have to endure the length of my recovery.

It’s tough, this ongoing battle, but I won’t let the hardship rise above.

Instead, I’ll view this beaming portrait of me in action and recognise the sacrifices I have made and continue to make are helping me move forward and I will enjoy the great moments without worry.