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Ria Strong


stole my old life,
left me slow, more damaged
than before. Slowly, I build a
new self.

I still
sometimes miss her,
the woman I once was--
but I'm proud of the woman I

Ria Strong



Write the grief. Write the pain. Write the anger. Write the tears. Write the doubts. Write the loss.

Write the loss.

Loss. What have I lost? I've lost the person I used to be. I could, and now I can't. I was, and now I'm not.

Write the loss.

I was on a camp, three-and-a-half years ago. I started fitting, and I didn't stop. Not until two or three days latter, when I was finally taken to hospital. I haven't been the same since.

I shouldn't have happened that way, but it did.

They should have acted sooner. Taken me to hospital sooner. Stopped my seizures sooner. They didn't. For some reason-- God knows why-- they didn't. They just left me fitting. And I haven't been the same since.

Write the loss.

I got my neuropsych report last week. "Ria" demonstrates a range of mild to moderately severe cognitive deficits that appear against a background of above average ability. The present results strongly suggest that Ria has indeed suffered deterioration since going into status epilepticus."

Those seizures f*cked up my brain. Permanently.

I didn't need a neuropsych report to tell me that. I worked it out for myself a long time ago.

Write the loss.

There was a time when I could think clearly. There was a time when I could learn quickly. There was a time when I could remember properly.

I had a GOOD memory, dammit!

Write the loss.

I was an A student, once. I wagged classes and I almost never did my homework (I had more important things on my mind). I still got As, though. Lots of them.

I won the maths competition in Year 7. And the science competion, several times. I got 95% in VCE Biology. I topped my first year Psychology class at University.

That was all Before.

I tried to study, After.

Second year Psychology-- I expected it to be easy. It SHOULD have been easy-- but I just fell further and further behind. I didn't even notice until late in the semester. When I saw the sample exam questions. And realised that I couldn't answer any of them.

Write the loss.

I was going to be a teacher-- I'd known that since I was 5.

I was going to work with 'special needs' children. Abused children. Deprived children. Children with disabilities. I was going to change their lives.

I never doubted it, Before. There was no reason to-- I'd been tutoring and working in recreation programs for years.

Then I went into status, and everything changed.

After, I went on to disability benefits.

For months I spent my time at the local drop-in centre. Drinking endless cups of bad coffee. Inhaling other people's cigarette smoke. And talking about trivialities.

I didn't know what else I could do. I wasn't sure if I could do anything at all.

Write the loss.

I was a singer, Before. I joined a choir when I was 8, and started singing solos soon after. Music came naturally to me-- as naturally as breathing. I really couldn't imagine life without it.

A couple of months After, I was involved in a big choral festival. A fortnight of rehearsals-and-performances. It was a disaster. I repeatedly got lost reading the scores-- I just couldn't follow my part. When the final concert came, I still didn't know most of the pieces.

I went home crying that day. And I haven't sung much since.

Write the loss.

I used to think I could overcome anything. That I could Triumph Over Adversity, and succeed despite it.

I don't any more.

I go through the motions of rebuilding my life (again). But I can't believe the way I used to.

And sometimes I get tired of struggling.

Write the loss.

Write the loss.

Write the grief. Write the pain. Write the anger. Write the tears. Write the doubts. Write the loss.