Struggling Mentally

Posted by Zack Collie in Life After Paralysis on August 12, 2022 # Lifestyle

Zack CollieMost people would think the hardest struggles of a spinal cord injury would be early on in the injury. Many people who sustain a spinal injury are already doing career jobs, are independent, have a family and children, or working towards a life-long goal. When their injury happens, the goal they were working so hard for can no longer be achieved; they are unable to support their family and are no longer independent. It is a devastating life change for them. I hear from a lot of people how difficult it was for them at the beginning of their injury. I’m not saying the beginning of my injury wasn’t difficult, because it was, but I was only 15 years old and hadn’t thought much about my future.

So, when I broke my neck and became paralyzed, it didn’t affect me like it would have to a husband with a job, wife, and kids. When I was in the hospital, I had no idea the severity of my situation. I thought that if someone broke their neck, they died. I didn’t know that was something a person could survive. I also thought I would eventually walk out of the hospital. It took me a while to understand and accept the reality of my situation. The reality is that I will most likely be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. It took time for me to get to this point. The seriousness of breaking my neck and becoming a C-4 quadriplegic didn’t hit me all at once. I never struggled with depression early on. Thinking back, I don’t know how I handled it the way I did at 15 years old. Fast forward 12 years later, I am now 27 years old. I have noticed lately that I am really struggling. Struggling with the fact that I am paralyzed, must rely on others for help, and am tired of living my reality.

I have been trying to date again, and nothing goes anywhere. There are a lot of things that have been piling on top of each other that have been bringing me down. I never felt alone before, even after my injury. I was talking with one of my friends the other day. He told me how he started training jiu-jitsu, and suddenly, I felt really bummed out. I am a big fan of martial arts and would love to be able to train, but I can’t because of my situation. I am blessed to have an amazing family and a great support system, but I have been struggling with feeling alone. It’s weird because I could never understand how someone could feel alone when they are surrounded by people who care about and love them.

I am surrounded by people who care about me, but I feel alone. Why did it take 12 years to hit me? Why is it happening now? I’ve never struggled with depression, but I wonder if I am now. I try to keep myself busy and occupied, but at the end of the day, when I come home and have nothing to do, it brings me down. I saw a quote the other day that said something along the lines of how depression isn’t just someone sitting in a dark room and crying. It can also look like someone getting up every day, laughing, smiling, coming back home, and doing nothing until it’s time to go to bed. This quote really hit me and was relatable. It’s kind of how I have been feeling lately. I don’t know why it’s happening now or what caused it, but it’s there. However, there is another thing I know about myself: I am a fighter. If there is anything this injury has taught me is to never give up. Of course, I struggle, but I don’t quit.

Zack Collie is living with quadriplegia and was paralyzed in 2010 diving under a wave at Newport Beach breaking his C-4 vertebrae. Zack started a YouTube channel to spread awareness about spinal cord injuries and his life living as one. His mother, Amber Collie, is also a regular blogger for the Reeve Foundation.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.