REAL LIFE

Back from the brink!

Despite life-changing injuries, brave Jeanette has proven doctors wrong

Jeanette Abdo, 49, is grateful for her second chance at life

Rushing around, I felt exhausted as I did the school run, dropping off my four kids.

When am I going to feel better? I wondered.

The past few years had been a whirlwind of tiredness and depression.

I adored my kids, aged 11, 10, three and two, but being a busy mum and running two cake shops meant I had no time to myself.

And, I felt unhappy in my marriage.

Life felt extremely tough and I couldn’t see a way out.

No-one knew how low I was feeling.

But as I drove from the kids’ school to work, I felt utter despair.

After a few hours in the shop, I turned to my husband and said, ‘I can’t bear this anymore.’

I woke up in hospital

Then, I picked up the car keys and just walked out.

From then on, everything is a blur – until I woke up in hospital.

What’s going on? I wondered, confused.

My best friend, Anneliese, 32, was by my side and holding my hand.

Trying to speak, nothing came out.

‘It’s okay,’ she soothed.

It wasn’t until another few weeks had passed that I really knew what had happened.

‘You tried to end your life,’ Anneliese told me gently.

On the day I walked out of work, my husband had reported me missing after I’d been gone for 24 hours.

Two days after I’d disappeared, a police officer found me unconscious.

There was a suicide note by my side.

‘You’ve been here for three months,’ she told me, to my complete shock.

I have lots of support at the gym

‘The doctors wanted to turn off your life support – they said you wouldn’t survive and, if you did, you’d have no independence – you’d be brain dead,’ Anneliese explained.

‘But then I saw your eyes flicker – and I refused to let them,’ she added.

Unable to speak, I welled up with emotion.

I’d come back from the brink of death.

Despite being alive, my life would never be the same – I’d been left with brain damage as my brain had been cut off from oxygen.

‘We don’t expect you to walk again,’ my doctor told me, gravely. 

It was heartbreaking, and the next few months were hell.

Anneliese was my rock.

And my lovely dad, Charlie, 59, visited regularly, bringing me my favourite fish and chips.

‘You’ll get there, love,’ he smiled. 

While my husband came, it was thought best the kids didn’t see me in hospital.

I missed them so much, but it made me determined to get better and get home.

After more than a year of physio and rebuilding my strength, I was finally discharged in a wheelchair.

We moved from Sydney to Queensland but I still couldn’t do anything by myself.

I wish I could look after the kids again, I thought.

I had a new lease on life

Moving back to Queensland after two years of rehab, I felt encouraged by my progress.

I could even walk 100 metres with my walker.

Wanting to keep going, I joined a Goodlife gym and got myself an amazing personal trainer called Ash.

‘You’ve got this!’ he encouraged me.

His adorable dog, Buddy, often joined us.

And, as my strength grew, my mood brightened, also.

Two years on, I can use rowing machines and bikes completely independently.

When I first started, I could only do 19 seconds on the treadmill. But recently, I managed to break my record, managing eight minutes and 30 seconds!

Above all, I appreciate life and I’m so grateful for my second chance.

While I still have a carer, I’m so much more independent and can enjoy time with my kids on visits.

There’s nothing I love more than hitting the gym or heading out for a coastal walk.

I also love snorkelling and doing extreme sports such as sky-diving and bungee jumping.

Plus, I do fundraising events to raise awareness about mental health and suicide. 

‘Keep going,’ I say. ‘There’s always a way through.’

For those struggling, I encourage you to stay strong and keep persevering.

I urge anyone who is feeling low or depressed, to get help.

Now, it’s my mission to share this message with the world.

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