Post Traumatic Brain Injury , I have taken to running mountains as I circumnavigate the globe in attempt to conquer the mountains of my mind.

With  the minimal eye sight I have left, embracing my differently abled body, I am taking on one illustrious mountain at a time. I hereby share my experience to inspire in times of adversity when your vision only sees mountainous trails ahead.

 

A blow to my head instantly transformed the steady trail I called life into a steep, mountainous ascent. Climbing through the wake of a traumatic brain injury, left with severe vision loss and a life threatening eating disorder, for what seemed like an eternity, the trail felt impossible, headed nowhere but a dark abyss. The peak with a view that every mountain boasts about could not possibly exist.

 

Questioning doctors, searching for answers, defying hospital rules, pulling out tubes and pushing therapy goal posts, I have struggled with acceptance of how drastically my life changed so quickly. Though working towards mindfulness, I spend far too much energy thinking about life leading up to the accident:

 

I could cycle to work after a morning run because I could see well enough to navigate and dodge speedy commuters, farm animals, equipment and trails.

 

I could see roots and rocks on the ground, the trail ahead, the sun rising above the mountains while embracing the sounds of nature waking up because I had perfect vision, comfort on trails and confidence on my feet.

 

I could enjoy coffee, a pre-run snack and post run breakfast because I had a healthy relationship with food and carefully ensured my body was fuelled to maintain constant activity.

 

I could live on a remote farm in Bavaria because I had a driver’s license and a reliable vehicle that I could hop in any season of year without even a thought of public transport.

 

I could stay in Europe as long as I chose because I was tenured and my employer sponsored my German Residency.

 

I wore a hat and sunglasses to prevent squinting, keep bugs and rain away, not to try to hide my face.

 

I could put my skis and snowshoes in the car with my bikes on the roof and head to the alps because down time for me meant playing in the mountains.

 

I could meet new people and look them in the eyes with confidence not concerned about their curiosity or stares at my disfigured face, feeding tube scars or state of my body.

 

Though certainly never complete, my recovery and rehabilitation are taking on a new form,  aimed to move energy away from thoughts of how life used to be and towards self acceptance and foster self worth far beyond the walls of any clinical setting. Such a short time ago I was given days to live, now, on to the mountains, only looking back, with my limited eyesight, to see how far I have come.

Mountains that are Calling: Trails of my Journey

 

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Tom Stevens
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Tom Stevens

I met gifted athlete of body and mind today on a trail high above Aspen, Colorado. It so happened I just finished a novel about such an athlete who suffered a life changing traumatic brain injury.
Jill is an inspiration and a gift to those who are caught in her wake. It was an honor to meet her.

mountainsofmymind
Admin

Thank you so much for reconnecting following our serendipitous encounter Tom! The honour was just as much mine. I look forward to getting to know ‘Jackie’ and to our trails staying connected.

Peter
Guest
Peter

Brilliant work, the effort of keeping the blog updated is itself a major undertaking and adds another challenge to the list. Hope the experience, both on the mountains and reflecting on what you have gone through, is bringing the rewards you deserve

mountainsofmymind
Admin

Thanks so much Peter. Despite the mountains behind and the climbs ahead, I am in a fortunate position as I continue with my personal writing, consider how I can encourage others in adverse situations, plan for future trails, spend the majority of each day on trails, all while embracing my differently abled body. I am certainly able to keep the ‘mountains of my mind’ busy and am hopefully that with time my juggling will improve.
With appreciation for your encouraging words, following my trails and sharing my story.

Pam H.
Guest
Pam H.

I am completely humbled and in awe of your courage, strength and skill. Where do you get your internal inspiration? You are truly a wellspring of hope and determination. The vicarious pleasure I have seeing and reading this pales in comparison to being up close to the experience, I’m sure. Please keep writing and snapping pictures about your thrilling, (albeit challenging on many levels) adventures. The spirit is truly a miraculous thing!

All the Best,
Pam H. (and Deke)

mountainsofmymind
Admin

Thank you for your encouragement Pam. A split second thought of any of the 7 hospitals and more than 2 years in clinical settings reminds me of what I have overcome and truly believe that with the experience behind me, nothing can challenge me more fiercely than which I have tackled in the past. Having overcome many trips and falls since my trail took such an unanticipated direction, I am inspired to celebrate the life I near lost, one mountain at a time. With love and thanks for the role you (and Deke) have played on my trail and appreciation… Read more »

Sue Pitts
Guest

Amazing! What an inspiration. One mountain at a time. So impressed.

mountainsofmymind
Admin

Knowing I have cheerleaders around the globe is inspiration especially when I feel my mountains are too steep. Thank you so much for your support, following my trails and sharing my story Sue.

Rori
Guest
Rori

Wow…so inspiring to be reading this story of your journey…you are a strong and amazing woman. Had no idea this was what happened and how you are moving forward is remarkable….sending love…Rorilynn

mountainsofmymind
Admin

There are many things I cannot do without triggering symptoms however this journey is about embracing that which I can do. Though perhaps not with the efficiency I once had, I can write and I can run. When my concentration is cooperating and the setting is ideal, writing is therapeutic. I am most thankful that you are taking the time to read my story thus far and follow the ups and downs of my trails Rory.

Svenja
Guest

The more I learn about you and your story, the more impressed I am! It was pretty inspiring meeting you on the Key Summit! Thank you so much for sharing your story and keep on going!!

Cheers,
Svenja (and Marco)

mountainsofmymind
Admin

Vielen Dank Svejna (and Marco)! Thankful for our happenstance meeting on the trail and that you are following along my trails. I certainly feel further inspired to stay strong knowing that even during my darkest moments there are people cheering from afar and find inspiration in my story. I hope you will keep the inspiration chain alive.
Glückliche Wege 😉

Kat
Guest
Kat

Reading this has brought tears to my eyes. I am so proud of you! My thoughts are always with you and I wish you nothing but the best! I hope one day to see you again, always thinking of you xx

mountainsofmymind
Admin

Thanks so much for reading and following my trails Kat. Your heartfelt thoughts are encouraging and I smile with anticipation of a run together someday, somewhere.
Wie immer, bitte pass auf dich auf. Gedanken und Umarmungen aus Patagonien 😉

Troy Gillit
Guest
Troy Gillit

I’m so glad to have met you… You can count me among those cheering you on.

mountainsofmymind
Admin

Vielen Dank for taking the time to read my story (so far) Troy – now you are a part of it! I sincerely appreciate your cheers, hope that you will continue to follow my trails and invite you to share http://www.mountainsofmymind.com with anyone who may be struggling through adverse times with hope they will find inspiration and new hope.

Gayle Rowland
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Gayle Rowland

Jill, I just listened to your recent interview. Kudos👍 Having known you since the day you were born, I have watched you from a distance, face life. Watched you determine what you wanted from life, not what others expected of you or thought you should do. I cannot find words to express the strength of will and character, that has brought you from the depths of despair to be able to face life fully and find joy in sharing your journey and experiences. “The secret of health both mind and body is not to mourn the past, but to live… Read more »

mountainsofmymind
Admin

Thank you for taking the time to listen to the Podcast, follow along my trails and for your heartfelt encouragement from the land of the Sleeping Giant Gayle. Buddha also shares a helpful reminder that no matter how difficult the past, you can always begin again.
Life is full of chapters; I am thankful I found the strength to not let some tough chapters end my story.
With gratitude and hugs x

Rima Lurie
Guest
Rima Lurie

Hi Jill ! I am an old friend, and former neighbor, of Tom Stevens! He told me, a while ago, about meeting you (“an amazing trail runner”!), on the trail above Aspen, He said he thought that we have a lot in common, and “should” meet, someday! I have been meaning to reach out, but get so behind on email/internet intentions, as I don’t have access in my simple, off-the-grid mountain home. I STILL like it in the Stone Age!! I am a 70+ trail runner, mountain woman… Amazed, humbled, inspired, and heartened by your story! I have a saying,… Read more »

Stephanie Smythe
Guest
Stephanie Smythe

You, once again, have brought tears to my eyes! From first meeting you, up until your discharge, and then frequent visits, you have left a lasting impact on me. What you overcame is nothing short of amazing. I think about you frequently and am so happy to find out you have a blog! Keep conquering the world like the badass you are! You are AMAZING!

❤️Stephanie Smythe

mountainsofmymind
Admin

A patient without patience, YOU never gave up on me Stephanie. Behind your smile and laugh at my ridiculous antics when I had no hope is a huge heart; a tenacious heart that I am thankful for. Without such love and commitment from you and the ACUTE team, I certainly would not be here embracing all life’s mountains.
With gratitude today and always, x

Barry Bogart
Guest
Barry Bogart

I just read your inspiring story in Outpost. I am a five-time TBI victim due to cars hitting my bike, so can totally relate to some of your injuries, as well as some ineffective medical encounters. TBI is still not well understood, much less treated. But “Time heals (somewhat) (almost) all wounds”. It does seem to get better.

mountainsofmymind
Guest
mountainsofmymind

Namaste Barry,
Thanks so much for reaching out and sharing the connection we have. Time certainly does heal; so too empathy is a support I find strength in. Embracing impermanence has helped me move along a trail of acceptance with gratitude. Your cheers from afar go far beyond words. Thanks so much for joining along my trail. With thoughts, appreciation and best to you from the Himalayas, j

Rita Ortbach (Tannouri)
Guest
Rita Ortbach (Tannouri)

Wow! You might not remember me from high school, but I remember you. To this day, your passion for movement and fitness guides you to not just climb mountains, but to move them. What an incredible journey! Small-town Ontario is proud.

mountainsofmymind
Guest
mountainsofmymind

Thank you for connecting and for your encouragement Rita.

A split second thought of any of the 7 hospitals and more than 2 years in clinical settings reminds me of what I have overcome and truly believe that with the experience behind me, despite my visual impairment nothing can challenge me more fiercely than which I overcame in the initial 2 years following the TBI. Inspired to celebrate the life I near lost, one mountain at a time, cheers such as yours certainly keep my fire stoked!

With gratitude for your heartfelt connection and best for healthy trails,
j

Christine
Guest
Christine

Almost blind but not running scared. …Nice!!

https://mountainsofmymind.com/into-the-light/

mountainsofmymind
Admin

Thanks so much for picking up @Oupostmagazine, taking time to read my story and reaching out Christine.

This journey is about embracing that which I can do. Everyday is not postcard picture perfect yet, especially on the most challenging days, find strength in support such as yours. There is ALWAYS something to be thankful for. Today I am thankful for you. x

Patrick Gain
Guest
Patrick Gain

Hey Jill, you’re an inspiration to all!!

My sister in law does a lot of traveling, bad divorce etc. Now she says “loving the life I’m living ” Hope you are doing that too, although you have had a lot more to overcome, I believe you may be doing that too!!

Keep it up Amazing Girl !!!

Love, Pat & Nancy.

mountainsofmymind
Admin

Thank you for connecting Mr. and Mrs. Gain!
How wonderful that your sister-in-law is thriving. I am most thankful for what I have learned from my TBI and all the good that has come from a seed of adversity.
Yesterday is gone, tomorrow comes with no guarantee – keep making the best of right now!
Big hugs to you and your family!

Jim Ward
Guest
Jim Ward

I went fishing this morning on Lake Estes in Estes Park. The sun was just coming up and I stopped to get my camera and take a photograph of snow on mountains and reflection in Lake. A few minutes later I met an energetic runner. It only took a few minutes to realize this was someone special I was talking with…..a person with a goal and a passion. I was blessed with mountain sunrise, catching two fish, but my heart was touched by meeting Jill

Have a GREAT summer and life,
Jim Ward

mountainsofmymind
Guest
mountainsofmymind

Thank you for bringing sunshine into my day before the sun had even come up Jim! May you continue to radiate its warmth and, regardless of the weather, find brightness in every day.
Carpe Diem 😉

Calvin Sim
Guest
Calvin Sim

“Climb every mountain.Ford every stream.Follow every rainbow.Till you find your dreams”.You are an inspiration to us all. I hope you have found your dreams and more. God bless and stay strong.Calvin Sim

mountainsofmymind
Guest
mountainsofmymind

Dearest Calvin – Your note could not have been more timely. Some days my dreams feel far fetched, blanketed in fog and mountains too steep. When on the tough days when the fog hovers and self doubt is an insidious beast, encouragement such as yours breathes life into my soul and assures me I am enough – energy to keep moving towards my dreams. Thank you so much for adding light to my day – Keep shining yours!