Inner Strength

I have heard it hundreds, maybe even thousands of times: “Resh, you’re so strong. Resh, you’re inspiring.” People send me heartfelt messages or approach me in public applauding me for handling the situation I am in in the way I have. I want to know what makes me so different? Why am I the strong one? You are looking at me and the hurdles I am over coming and comparing them to your problems and stresses. Am I not just playing the cards I have been dealt?

Regardless of what may be going on in your life, whether it be; work, school, university, college, relationships, breakups, devastation, trauma, illness, family or friends issues, no one has the right to undermine you or anything that bothers you. We are all individuals, all dealt different hands and all have different threshold levels of what we believe we can handle.

I want to point out that if its a stress to you, no matter how big or small the issue may seem to others, then it is a stress and it matters. Stop belittling your feelings and problems, stop feeling as though you shouldn’t be allowed to get down about the ‘little’ things. I appreciate others look to me and my story and question why they let things get to them, but don’t put yourself down for it.

I don’t have much of an explanation, but the explantation I do have is that I like to believe that we all have this strength within us. Such a powerful inner strength lies within us that keeps us moving forward. From every single time in the past in which you’ve sat there not being able to see how you’re going to move past the ordeal you’re going through. For ever moment you’ve been on the brink of giving up, tears and despair, you’ve managed to get past its one way or another. You’ve got past every difficult day you’ve ever had to be here. Reflect on each time you’ve not been able to see a future, there is something within you that has kept you pushing on.

Oblivious to you is that inner strength. You could go through life without ever realising what strength you truly possess, but if you do ever identify it and learn just how strong you are, you’ll realise just how capable you are to do anything. There’s only so much you can do, so far you can go with the inner strength alone. Yes you could come out the other side of a traumatic event physically, but emotionally are you broken? But imagine how strong, how powerful, how confident and how motivated you could be once you knew just how special you are.

You’re the only version of you in the world. Make it important. Stand for something real. Chase love not popularity. So what if you aren’t everyone’s favourite, did you try your best to be the best version of you today? You’re here for you. Make a positive difference. Overcoming every single issue in your life is a giant stride forward. Once it is done, that issue can be left in your past.

Whilst over coming issues, all your current actions will become parts of your past. Remember that your actions and words are a reflection of you. Everything in your past gets folded up and put into a suitcase, which you carry around forever. No one is perfect, and we have all tried different methods, its all part of the process of growing up. Never let someone else alter your actions or behaviour to the point you can’t recognise yourself anymore. Why are you being put in a situation that you can’t move forward, or you don’t see your life continuing in the way you’d like.

Handle each tough time with grace. Don’t lose yourself in a world where it is all to easy to do so. Keep your dignity and respect for yourself, and the world will show it to you. Remember, you’re only here to compete with yourself. Get to know who you are, realise all the power you truly have. Look at how far you’ve come already, aren’t you proud? You’ve got no reason to shy away or hide the things society tells you are flaws. No one has the right, nor can they ever take away your inner strength. I just wish you just recognised how much strength you have.

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Progress (August)

Before you all get thinking I’m sat in a dark room all day every day rocking to myself, I thought I’d give you an update on my mental and physical state. You have all seen how I looked, my face was all swollen, my burns took my skin and I had my face washed with a body jet spray whilst under which left with me new skin (pink raw), which then scabbed over like any scrape would do, before the scabs fell off. My shoulder/top back was deeply burned so that had a skin graph using skin from the back of my leg. And I had splashes of burns across my arms and legs. I also had two more smaller skin graphs on my knee and my inner thigh.

Mentally:
I’m up and down, I guess I’m as normal as can be given recent events.

Physically:
Legs: The burns and skin graphs have shredded all its scabbing, leaving behind purple spots of burns, I’m wearing the pants that will prevent scars from becoming raised, and I’m still using creams because I don’t think it’s quite ready for oils. Also there are some areas that are more healed than others, e.g. Skin is a white and will hopefully return to brown to match the rest of my body. Also the back of my leg which was the donor site is purple. However all is ‘healed’ so that’s good news, just waiting for colour and preventing raised scarring from here onwards.
Arms: I have a few pink coloured scars, some white ones which I’m hoping will turn brown, and a skin graph that takes up my right shoulder and the top of my back. Some areas are raised, some are flat. It changes colour based on a number of things but right now it’s a pink colour. I’m using creams and the pressure garment to control it. No idea how a skin graph this size will eventually look. But let’s hope for the best.
Face: I have a few specs of burns on my chest, I hope they clear up or at least fade with time and treatment. My face was mainly hit on one side. The left side is developing scars around my eyes, and is closing much better now. The right side is still not brown, but I’m hoping it changes from pink to brown soon. I am developing a few scars in places like near my mouth and around the eye. My neck is a darker pink and the area is becoming raised further. I also can’t close my eye, I was told this is due to the scarring and the toughness of the skin. I’m hoping a surgeon can help and awaiting my appointment. My mouth doesn’t open as it should and yawning feels tight. But as long as the colour settles (which it really is doing!), my eye is operated on (consultation in two weeks), and I keep treating the scars, I’m hoping I’ll be back to the old me soon. (Preferably before going back to uni…)

I know I haven’t shared any photos, but my mentality behind it has been: you have all seen me at my worst, so at least let me show you when I’m looking good. For me that would be when my eye looks normal. The skin colour I can deal with, the scarring I can cover or treat. There are options for me. However, I have been taking photos all the time, so maybe one day I’ll be able to share the timeline of physical recovery.

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No Radox allowed

I know these posts aren’t very frequent, but I came to a dilemma about them: these posts are supposed to be my thoughts and recovery updates, but my thoughts are negative and my recovery upsets me. I didn’t want to write things that may make others feel down, but then I was told by a very wise man that the lows are all part of the journey, and the people reading this are here for exactly that; the journey.

In case you didn’t realise, these blogs are straight from my mind to phone. Whenever some thoughts hit me which I think I’d like to share, I start typing on my phone. I really don’t tend to proof read (which I’ll try to from now), these posts are pure, raw, unedited and unfiltered.

So it’s bath time, Beyoncé playing just lay here. Bath time is supposed to be so relaxing, a tranquil time to gather your thoughts. But for me, bath time is one of the worst times. As a young woman, I like to feel fresh and clean at all times, if i don’t feel that way it’s made evident through my mood, I become irritable, snappy and down. Each time I get my clothes ready, I do it as if I’m just going through the motions. It’s almost a zombie like state. Getting clean clothes together and running water is hardly a huge task, yet I avoid it as though it is. Once the bath is ran, there’s no escaping it. I can’t keep delaying and finding some other corner of my room to for no good reason ‘reorganise’. I get in, I sit up, I look down, and it hits me. As it has been hitting me everyday, but it hits me so much more. I sit here alone with my thoughts. I have no where to look but down at myself. I look down and see the drops of my harsh reality. The discoloured shades of brown, white, pink and purple. The lumpy skin and the skin graphs. These marks are meant to be for just me to see, but I get wondering if anyone else in the future will ever get the chance, or want it. I think these low moments are what hurt me the most. My simplest of tasks become a hurdle. I can’t be normal about it, my emotions won’t let me. I sit, I reflect, I torture myself. It shouldn’t be a big deal, it’s part of it, it’s something I need to do, so why is each time like a breakdown?

This isn’t a relaxing bath with candles lit, some Radox to relax my muscles and a load of bubbles. This is the most hospital-like bath you can think of. Still not allowed any chemicals my skin, no make up, no fragranced or unnatural shower gels. To make things extra difficult I have to get out of the bath to wash my hair so no shampoo runs over the burns. And then afterwards? I have an exciting time doing the same thing I have to do every few hours. I apply creams and oils to the right areas, and get back into my pressure garment. Now I can go two ways, throw a bit of positivity to the subject and describe it as my bespoke body suit in nude, perfect for pushing down lumpy scars and keeping them down. Or I can maintain this level of emptiness and say it how it is, the suit I’m supposed to wear 23 hours a day, only removing for showering and creaming that is tight and gets extremely hot beneath my normal clothes.

I have mentioned my eyebrows quite a few times, how I’ve been advised not to do them, but of course it’s more than just plucking eyebrows I’ve been advised against. So many thoughts go through my mind all day everyday. On the outside I maintain this image that I am such a strong and capable woman, but every woman likes to feel like a beautiful, flawless woman (flaws included), and I struggle to feel that anymore, and boy did I used to feel it! Usually back in the hairdressers as soon as I spot a few split ends after a few weeks, I found myself wondering what the point was this time. Now don’t get me wrong, I will go get my hair done eventually, but I just feel unable to walk tall and hold my head up high and show off the new locks. I know it sounds silly, because if I read this from any other woman I’d be outraged, I’d want to shake her and tell her to show the world because she’s the most beautiful thing in it, it’s just up to her to see it for herself. But when you have a new face and body, it takes some adjusting to. But I don’t want to adjust, I want it fixed, I need it fixed.

I’m the woman that was never shy of a camera, I was that woman that was such a woman’s woman, I’m that woman that would get a taxi fare free thanks to a cheeky smile and a few compliments. I’m that woman that now struggles to look at herself. I think more than anything I just want someone to talk to. My friends try their best but are busy, plus I don’t want to overwhelm them, what happened to me isn’t some usual boy problem they can talk me up from and boost my confidence about. This is a whole other game. I think that horrible feeling of being alone is what brings me to these posts. My friends are busy, my dad is a man; I can’t exactly confide as much as I’d like to for obvious reasons, and strangers, I guess I just don’t have it in me to let all of this out to one stranger in particular *cue blog posts*. At the same time I’m a hypocrite, I’d love to be able to discuss this with someone, tell them all the things really going on with me, all my real thoughts and feelings, but at the same time I don’t want to. I want to talk about normal things, why should my life be the centre of attention? Tell me about your day? How was your holiday? How was your shift? How was the birthday party? Tell me the good and bad in your life, because I’ve had just enough thinking about mine.

If your bath times brought back horrible memories you still have nightmares over, or meant you had to brutally face the new you, you tell me how keen you would be. If this is my face, body and skin forever then I don’t want it. You can’t take it because this wasn’t mine, it isn’t mine and I can’t accept this for anything that is is, wrong.

I told you, these posts are raw, no euphemisms here. Of course there are positives, I intend on writing a post on all the positive progress soon. But all the positivity for the future still won’t erase the way I feel when I look at my scars now.

But don’t get it twisted, I’ll be back on top form soon, the world is still mine for the taking. Same as for any woman. Regardless of what comes your way, we pick up the pieces and keep it moving until the sunny day we hope for arrives.

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Self Pity for nothing

I understand being upset is normal, so I won’t punish myself for my low moods and rollercoaster of emotions recently. But I’m sat here depressed about my face: Wondering if my eye will ever get back to normal. If my eyelids ever close again. What my skin colour will be. Where my scars will show. If my face will remain slanted. If I’ll ever manage a full smile. What to expect and when to face the public.

I was too scared to look up other acid attack victims, too scared to face what my reality could be. I clung onto hope, hope I’d be different, unlike the stories, unlike the famous Katie Piper. I clung to hope I wouldn’t need multiple surgeries, I wouldn’t need a surgeon to reconstruct my face, I wouldn’t need any of it.

Today I was too petrified to walk to my local shop. Too scared to face the world. Too scared of the looks I might get. To scared to tackle the question “how are you”. Just too scared. That’s all I’ve been. Terrified and reluctant. My life on pause, frozen with fear. After a day of staring at my reflection on my phone cameras, pulling and tugging my face, I finally put the google search in ‘Acid attack survivors’, which later went to ‘acid attack survivor photos’. What I saw changed my outlook completely.

First of all, I was reading about women all around the world, finding out about their stories, and how common sick people can carry out such cruel acts, even twice in some cases. I saw the photos, I saw the physical damage, and I shared the psychological damage. But after seeing these women overcome the pain, seeing them smile, be confident and move on with their lives made me so happy for them. I knew what real courage was.

I wasn’t courageous, I was just blessed with help, support, prayers, positivity, friends, family, media and even campaigns. These women had no or little support, yet they got through. I had spent, and still do spent hours down, and bursts of breakdowns, but I know my face is mainly intact. No ‘melting’ of features, no facial surgeries so far and my senses in tact. When comparing my injuries to other survivors, I reflected and was suddenly so thankful.

I feel like I have had the luckiest acid attack in the world.

Reading up on other survivors. Not victims, but survivors, gave me so much determination and strength. These women took on the world and its fate, and tackle each day like any other. My respect for these woman fuelled anger and disgust. I don’t understand why attackers use acid, but what I do know is that it deserves the harshest punishment. All over the world, this should be outlawed, this should be stopped, condemned, banned, punished, anything to make sure no other man or woman ever suffers. I want to just stand up and say to the nations of the world that they need to come together and work for the people. I want to do a lot of things. I guess it will just be one step at a time.

I still cling to the hope. Perhaps my features will be exactly the same as before. Perhaps I won’t have any scars. Perhaps my skin will go back to its rightful colour. Perhaps I’ll look exactly the same and no one would be any wiser. Or perhaps I’ll have to live with the differences burned into me back on my 21st.

*Wrote over two days, started on 23/7/17, finished on 24/7/17 (sorry I got distracted!)

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It’s The Little Things

It really is. If you could call today anything I guess you could call it a low day. We all have our ups and downs, but it’s all about how we get back up from our downs. Hospital life is tricky. I make jokes with the other patients about how I’m institutionalised, how I there’s no life for me on ‘the outside’ and how far technology has advanced since I first got in. But it’s about who you make those jokes with. How you get positive enough to make jokes at all. It’s the little things.

When I was in the burns ward, I felt like I had spent as long as I could remember inside, away from the sun. I was barely walking, and losing hope. I would stand staring in the mirror whilst streams of tears ran from my eyes. I couldn’t understand what had happened to me. Perhaps it still hasn’t hit me. But the point is I was losing myself, I thought I had lost myself.

Mandy, the blue haired nurse that reminded me so much of my friends mum Andrea, mentioned a pair of straighteners they had which were donated to them. Those straighteners were my lifeline. I was so used to being dressed up, or at least dressing up every once in a while. In hospital you’re in your pyjamas 24/7, your nails can get out of control, you lack your usual basics like a razor, and you know there’s no point in getting them because you’re too weak to do you usual shower regime. To spend some time pampering myself, straightening my hair before visits lifted my spirits. My face didn’t matter because everyone could see my clean long straightened black hair. My hair, the protection, the cover of my skin, the distraction. As I said it’s the little things. Now I’m not in the burns ward, now I don’t have access to any straighteners, I have to lift my spirits in other ways.

I’m in the plastics ward. Here I don’t have my straighteners, my own bathroom, my own room. Here, I have to share with 3 other people, and a story about how I lost it and refused to show my face to anyone when I arrived here is for another blog entry, but here I learned to accept others looking at me, a bit. Here I met Bernadette. A lovely lady. Before getting to know her better, I knew of her seizures I’d witness in the night as nurses and doctor would run in to calm her down. Seeing this and being expected to sleep just meters away whilst this happened was horrible. I was left with a sinking feeling, a helpless feeling, I was useless here.

We met whilst I was crying like a child. There was a bandage to the back of my wound had stuck to the new healing skin, for the second time, and wouldn’t come off. It took 3 days to get it off, but the nurses main method to get this off was to rip it off. During the ripping attempts of day two, I was begging the nurse to leave it, crying for the whole ward to hear. She left and told me she’d be back after I’d calmed down, but I wasn’t taking no chances. Without pants on, and clutching to this painful bandage, I hopped off my bed and ran to the door. My plan was to hide in the bathroom and try get it off myself in the shower.

On my way Bernadette called me to her bed and consoled me. She asked what was up, and gave me advice on what to do. She looked after me and gave me that first hand support I needed. I went into the shower and attempted to soak it off for the next 40 minutes. Since that first conversation, we got talking to the others in the room, and it made things feel less isolated. Thanks to these women, thanks to Bernadette wanting extra biscuits off the nurses, I plucked up the courage to walk to the shop within the hospital. I wanted to treat the women, and for this I showed my face in public. During the night I’d hear Bernadette talking about me on the phone, hearing only pleasant things. I can’t really describe anything further about our interactions and about our private jokes, but I’m sure you would be able to appreciate and understand how much she helped me smile throughout the day. It probably seemed like nothing to these women, but to me it was reassurance that my face was okay, that I was okay, and that I could handle the world.

Bernadette left today, along with both of the other women. They all left around the same time. I’m alone again + the wavy hospital hair.

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Why did I start a blog?

Whilst being in hospital, the days can sometimes fall into each other and it’s easy to lose track of what day of the week it is. I’m hopeful that the creation of this blog provides me with a positive distraction, and a contributes towards steadily managing the past, present and future. Even upon discharge I feel as though throughout my ordeal (To read about this, check out the My Story page), I have had so much support, from friends, family and even strangers. I have experienced a sense of being, a feeling of care and support, from people all around the world that I have never and probably never will meet. Whenever I devote time to sort through the hundreds of messages I have received from well wishers, I always get filled with a sinking feeling. These people want updates on how I am, and they just want to help, yet I have been struggling to respond at a respectable rate. My way of thanking and updating others, as well as handling this chapter in my life is to document it as a blog. Even here, at the beginning of my online journey, I realise that I need to make sure I establish what I decide to post to the world, and what I’d like to keep private.

…That is why I want to create to sides of me, Resham.online, my online self that shares parts of her life with the world, and Resham Khan, my offline self, that moves forward, and tries her best to move upwards and onwards…
So here I am for you all, a blog on updates, a blog devoted to my recovery, to my future, to me. No running away or hiding, no being fearful, just Resham.online.

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