Self Image

When someone suggested I start a blog, my first thought was, “Who would wanna read what I have to say?” There are many times I still wonder that. A few weeks ago, I put way too much pressure on myself in regards to what people thought about me via my blog. I say this because I try to be as honest and candid as possible in my blogs, meaning I put myself out there for all to see. But I have no idea who reads this. When I go out in my community, I cannot help but to wonder who has read my writings; who knows the personal things I’ve discussed? I felt like maybe I’ve shared too much – sometimes I just feel so exposed (for lack of a better word).

Don’t get me wrong, I am EXTREMELY blessed for all the support. I put myself out there, in the media and in my writings, and have no regrets; however, it does, at times, make me feel quite vulnerable. Prior to my accident, I was a very private person, so putting myself out there so much did not come easily. Looking back now, I am so glad I did. Recently, I found myself going back to my original blog, Believe in Miracles, and had a sudden epiphany. These entries, although public for all to read, are mostly for my benefit. Many times I go and re-read previous blogs to see my progress; to take my own advice; to be inspired; or to remind myself of where I’ve been and how far I can go. For instance, this time two years ago was the first time I could scratch my nose! It is so surreal for me to know that something so simple was such a huge accomplishment, but at that time, it was a major milestone.

That being said, I want to talk about a struggle of mine. One of the hardest things for me to overcome since my injury is my self image. I will be the first to admit that I had many insecurities before my accident. All my life up until age 19, I was overweight.
At my heaviest, in 2006, I weighed in at 215. It wasn’t until my first year at Southern Miss that I somehow lost the weight. Honestly, I don’t know how. I credit it to being a full time student, full time waitress, happy in a relationship, going out with friends, and no longer eating momma’s cooking! Regardless, even after dropping 90lbs, I never saw myself as thin… But it was not just my outer appearance that I had a hard time accepting.

I have always felt like an awkward individual; constantly questioning myself and how others perceive me, often feeling misunderstood. Trust is, I didn’t know who I was because I had a tendency to focus too much of my time and energy into my relationships instead of focusing on myself, my goals, and my interests. In the last two years since my injury, a year and a half of which I’ve been single (longest I’ve been single since high school), I’ve learned so much about myself. The time away from dating allowed me to realize who I am as an individual and I would not trade that for anything. For the first time in my life, I was invested in myself as opposed to a significant other. And while I continue to discover who I am on the inside, I still find myself trying to love my outward appearance.

As I previously mentioned, I already had a tainted vision of myself from being overweight for so long. After my injury, I had to get used to an entirely new body. It did not take long to discover that many of my clothes did not look the same when I was always sitting down and, to be quite blunt, could no longer suck in my gut (no shame). My power chair, which seems to swallow me up in its oversized and intimidating frame, is usually noticed before I am. Honestly, with how cumbersome my chair is, I’m not the least bit surprised. It looks like a transformer. If my chair doesn’t attract the stares, then my spasms seem to seal the deal. Who expects to see a paralyzed chick suddenly kick out a leg and then have to have someone put it back on my footplate. But it’s not only my legs, my whole left side/arm contracts when a spasm occurs, guaranteeing some odd looks from strangers. Then there is the insecurities with my hands; my lifeless fingers stay curled into little fists. This is likely my biggest insecurity. Of course, the lack of hand use means I’m unable to do a lot of my own care and grooming, i.e., my hair. I’m sure most girls can relate with me when I say that a good or bad hair day can make or break how you feel about your appearance. It seems so simple, but I would give anything to be able to do my own hair again. Ah, but I digress.

As I said, I write these blogs for my benefit. These are words I needed to get off my chest. I look forward to the day I re-read this blog and say, “Insecure!? Katy, you’re crazy!” Like everything else in my journey, I will turn this struggle over to God and know it will one day be a thing of the past.

All little girls should be told they are pretty, even if they aren’t.
– Marilyn Monroe

Tell your friends:
About Katy Blake
First and foremost I would like to thank everybody who's come to this page, people I've never met who have encouraged me, prayed for me, inspired me, have been inspired by me, shared my story with others, and have financially helped with the cost of living with a spinal injury. For those who do not know my story, let me start on June 13, 2010. I was on a canoe trip with a group of friends when I went for a dive in the creek that we were traveling in. As soon as I jumped, I realized how shallow it was but it was too late. I hit the bottom headfirst and although I remained conscious mentally, my entire body from head down went numb and lifeless in the blink of an eye. What was probably only 20 seconds seem to be hours as I lay face down in the water until my friends realized something was wrong and pulled me out. Within the hour I was air lifted to Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg, MS, where I was diagnosed with having an incomplete C-5 fracture spinal cord injury. There I was, 23 years old and being told by the doctors I would never move past my biceps again. I guess it is a good thing I never listen to anyone, because I refused to listen to them. I stayed in ICU for a month and a half on a ventilator with pneumonia in my lungs. Although I had many setbacks while in the hospital, (pressure sore, problems with breathing, leaky feeding tube), I never let it get me down or stop me from working to gain as much recovery as possible. I eagerly participated in as much physical therapy and occupational therapy as possible and never stop moving as much as I could, hoping that I would regain muscles back in my arms. By the time I left the hospital on September 6, 2010, nearly 3 months after my injury, I was just beginning to learn how to feed myself. I attended Mississippi Methodist rehab for a month; however, I was so weak from being in bed for three months in the hospital that I was hardly able to do the exercises they tried to have me doing. That was when I first encountered problems with Mississippi Medicaid. I have fought many battles to be approved by the state Medicaid program, I was even denied for nearly 2 months which meant that all outpatient therapy that I was receiving was stopped, and I suddenly had to pay full price for the costly medicine I have to be on. I had private insurance all my life up to 10 months before the accident when I was no longer in school and not eligible under my mother's insurance. I created this page to help gain exposure, hoping that I reach the right person who could help. In today's world, you can become famous (or viral) online overnight, thus was born help Katy back to rehab on Facebook. What an amazing journey it has been since then. It has put happiness and hope back into my life and for society in general. I have met the nicest, most caring people who are inspired by me as much as I'm inspired by them. We were also able to do fundraisers raise enough money for me to attend additional rehab at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, GA, a well-known spinal cord injury rehab facility. This is just the beginning. I truly believe I can walk again if I have the right therapy and medical care because I definitely have the drive, willpower, and motivation to go further than the doctors ever would have imagined. But as they say, Rome was not built in a day. As to this date, (2/28/12), I brush my own teeth and hair; wash my face; feed myself; play the wii; use the computer, cell phone and iPad all without finger function; roll myself over; pull myself up; push myself in a manual chair; and have most recently took up painting. One day I was even sneaky enough to get in the kitchen cabinet to get a spoonful of peanut butter- well worth the effort it took. But I know this is only the beginning of the journey. The more exercise and therapy I receive to become stronger and more independent, the sooner I can return to school, get a job, and give back to the community for what they have done for me. I'm beginning to speak to children in school about spinal cord injury, safety, and motivation- to never give up and never give in. Miracles happen every day but you have to believe, and you have to work hard. I want to thank you again for reading my story and would sincerely appreciate you taking a moment to help spread the word by sharing this on your own Facebook page, email to others, twitter, or by word of mouth. You never know who you may reach and who may be able to help. I ask each of you reading this to please help me in spreading the word of my story. In less than 60 seconds, by simply sharing my page to others, perhaps more people will read about my determination to recover and hopefully reach enough recognition so that I may receive more help. The power of Facebook and online media in today's society is an amazing tool to spread the word of a great cause. I'm not looking for a handout, I'm looking for a hand up. I graciously thank you for your support in helping me achieve my dreams, which is to regain as much function as possible, to perhaps even to walk again. God bless.

9 Comments on Self Image

  1. Write. A. Book. Best sellers list = Unlimited time at Sheperd!! You can do it and I’d be in line when it comes out… Notice I said WHEN … NOT … IF!!!

    • hi katy. you don’t know me. i used to work with your brother kevin and i’m only a little bit acquainted with sarah.

      BUT. i wanted to echo what kristin wrote up there. what a great, great idea! i know i’d buy a copy!

  2. Wow. Talk about being real!

    So, when people tell u ur beautiful, do u have trouble believing them? Or could it be that people don’t tell u ur beautiful often enough? I guess I’m one of those people from the second part. Saawwweee! :)

    Katy Blake, my beautiful friend from across the seas, I do hereby declare :

    Ps : i swear, I really are. Everytime I see a new pic of u, I think, she’s so pretty. Then I go on to think, she probably knows it. That’s the problem with being pretty – people assume u know it and that you’re probably a snob or have everything all together with no issues in life. Lol!!

    Ok enough rambling from me. Great post. At least now u know one person that read it isn’t even from ur side of the world!!

  3. Karen Dirickson // June 29, 2012 at 12:29 am // Reply

    Hello Katy. My name is Karen. I just got done reading your blog. While I am not a Quadriplegic I was quite blessed by your words. As a child I to had different views of myself. I thought I will never be pretty enough or smart enough for anyone to love or like me. But as I got older I found myself caring about other people rather than myself. Putting in a nut shell I was a human doormat. When I got into adult hood a very abusive relationship broke me of that. I was no longer anyone’s doormat or punching bag. It was then I found out who my true friends where. I did not have half the friends after that. It was a lonely time for me. I had trust issues among other things. But then I turned to God for help. He taught me that I was never alone in my trials. Like that poem footprints in the sand: God said at your darkness times it was then I carried you. so please know that no matter what goes on in your life God will always be there for you. God Bless you. Your sister in Christ Karen.

  4. Listen to her! Start the book, just get it going. I’ll gladly proof it for you. This really could be your ticket to unlimited Shepard AND allow you the forum to make those changes in the system you’ve been talking about. I see it now…best seller list then testimony before Congress. Take up where Chris Reeves left off. Just do it!!!

  5. Kristen W. is right ~ Katy, you write so well. You should be writing a book. Your story is amazing. Part of what makes it that way is your brutal honesty about what you are feeling and thinking. AND by the way ~ I love the girl that I watched grow into a beautiful, interesting woman. I wish I could take away your insecure feelings for you. You have always been beautiful, kind and a fierce friend to all who know you. Your weight and “Transformer Chair” have nothing to do with that. You inspire so many people ~ through your writing, through your art and with your every day struggles. I love you and pray for you every day.

  6. Katy, I know someone in MN who wrote a book at your age and it WAS on the NY Times Best Sellers List AND nominated for a Pulitzer price. We aren’t BFF’s or anything but I do chat w her occasionally and if you’d like I could ask her if I could pass along your story contact info…she may know the way into a NYC Publisher/Editing House. PM me if you’d like me to do so…and I’ll tell you her name then…. <3

  7. Gina Wright // June 29, 2012 at 9:22 am // Reply

    You are beautiful no matter what you weigh or what you are sitting in.

  8. Katy, You know that I’ve always thought you were beautiful….and you are – inside and out! You have always been loving and caring, and there’s always been something a little special (in a good way) about you. You and I go back a long way, and I have watched you become an amazing young woman in spite of all the storms that have rained down on you in your short life! You have given so much to so many, and you still have so much to give. Forget the large wheelchair, muscle spasms, and curled fingers! That’s not who you are, and it only takes a minute of being with you for people to realize that! You have a dazzling smile, gorgeous eyes and face, and an inner glow that shines through everywhere you go. I love you, Katy, and I’m so proud of you.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.