pinterest

KEYNOTE SPEAKING

Mental health is a subject close to Donna's  heart.  Below are details of some  of the challenges she's faced due to being assaulted and the subsequent head injury sustained from that.  She didn't just survive her attack--meeting the hurdles and adversity face on with an inner strength and positive attitude  has allowed her to strive. As a result she claims she's emerged the other side a better version of herself.  Five times published award winning author (with more books on the way) Donna is proof that through forward thinking, perseverance and determination its possible to turn your life around.   Donna is available to speak at your event, to  motivate your guests on remaining positive whatever their life situation and to encourage them to strive.


MEMORY LOSS

Donna lost the ability to remember her past, what she had done a few moments ago and, for example what she had gone upstairs for. Suddenly immersed into a frustrating life she attempted to live, no longer knowing that the utensils she ate with were called a knife and fork or that she signed her name with a pen. Knowing her own name was a bonus for she didn't know many more.  Beyond signing here name, Donna no longer had the ability to  read or write which was a combination of her failed eyesight and memory loss. Embarking on a long journey of recovery it took time to rebuild these skills. First she built a memory palace which took a considerable period to implement but its a tool that is mostly effective. Working with numbers still presents issues but Donna always finds a solution--calculators and spreadsheets or other humans serve a purpose for that!  2021 will be the year she works hard to overcome this issue. Writing has helped Donna regain much of her past along with an uncomfortable story she shares that saw a bulk of her memory return. 


SENSORY OVERLOAD

Our brains filter incoming information automatically-–a process known as sensory gating--quite literally dismissing unnecessary stimuli, which prevents sensory overload. Donna is very much in touch with her senses at a very deep level and yet her brain cannot filter when placed in busy situations. Nothing gets blocked and she becomes overwhelmed to the point that the damaged nerves inside her brain begin to buzz like some kind of electrical storm. A storm that can be physically felt.  Eventually she will go deaf but all is not lost as she learnt to lip read as a child and this skill has returned. The reason for the deafness is due to displaced bones deep inside her left inner ear that was a direct result of the impact from the assault.



COMPLEX POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER

Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is crippling. Donna has experienced more than one trauma, but it was the assault that triggered her symptoms. Flashbacks of the punches she received were occurring during the day and in her sleep. Each time they happened she was magically transported back into the room where the assault happened. There was no escape from this and no end to the torment. Her situation was made worse because of the anger she was carrying, not towards the person who attacked but because of the situation she'd been left in. There was no blame in her mind or heart towards her attacker and still isn't --psychosis can't carry blame. Many people around her can't get their heads around that! It is what it is. There was this vicious cycle: the more flashbacks that occurred, the more fearful she became. The more fear felt, the more the anger built. The more angry she was, the more flashbacks there were. Life became hell. Functioning even at a remedial level was difficult at best, for Donna was also struggling to rebuild her lost memory. Thankfully she has taken control of her CPTSD. It no longer owns her, she  owns it and is no longer defined by it's rules, dragged down to its level and crippled by it. Having learnt to cope, to recognise the signs and to win through with an inner strength she had no idea existed by using coping tools received during  therapy (and it took two rounds of intense therapy for her to regain control) she can now crack on with life. Yes, some days are hard and symptoms do still surface. Writing has given her the gift of freeing her mind to enable her continued recovery. Through it she's gained confidence and emerged from the shadows once more. 


SEIZURES

Donna's seizures were first though to be psychological. Over time it appears that her head injury has indeed resulted in epilepsy which is now under control. Donna strives to reduce the pain in her head by looking after herself through a healthy lifestyle which, as we all know, helps to reduce stress. Ensuring she stays physically fit, eats a healthy diet and gets plenty of sleep Donna is able, with the aide of medication, to remain healthy and seizure free.

Twenty-twenty become the year that Donna started to speak more openly about her seizures, a subject that she had found many people shy away from. She has found that there is vast misunderstanding, fear and discrimination surrounding epilepsy and so feels that her voice might help spread a positive message to help others understand a little of what it is like to live with this complex, hidden illness. 

Now, with her symptoms under control, Donna is able to physically "work out" for eight hours each day, lifting consistently for this duration. 2021 will see the seven year anniversary of the assault--yes its taken time to heal, but Donna truly believes in the light that that was promised at the end of the tunnel that had seemed so distant in the beginning. 


FATIGUE and MULTI-TASKING

Fatigue was a daily battle but one that Donna attempted to place to the back of her mind. Its a feeling of extreme tiredness that goes beyond needing a sleep and one that isn't resolved by having sleep. Over time Donna realised that battling it wasn't getting her anywhere and it turned out her Vitamin B12 levels were on the floor. Now corrected with injections, her energy levels have returned.  

As far as multi-tasking is concerned, don't even begin to consider wanting to share space in the kitchen with Donna (unless you're her partner Dave) as she still struggles to get the dinner done in a timely fashion and the last place you need to be is under her feet, uninvited. With Dave's assistance things are somewhat more organised (and the oven even gets turned on for example). On the plus side, Donna can cook so logistically the team effort works well.