Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Mindful Monday: What Kind of Life Do You Want Now?

Haley Scott 2.jpg
It was January of 1992.


I was a junior at Saint Mary’s College in South Bend, Indiana. There was a blizzard the night before, and a friend and I were supposed to eat breakfast with another friend who lived on campus. We made it over to room after trudging through the snow, and breakfast smelled delicious, but by the expression on her face, we knew something was terribly wrong.

The night before, the bus transporting Notre Dame’s women’s swim team hit a patch of ice and flipped over on the side of the road about four miles from campus. Two of the students died, and one had been paralyzed.


The three of us held hands for a moment of silence followed by a prayer.

I remember that moment as clearly as I do the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. So I was a bit taken aback when I heard the announcement after church last Sunday that a woman who was supposed to be paralyzed for the rest of her life, one of the women on the Notre Dame bus that crashed in 1992, would be the featured speaker of the adult lecture series.

Haley Scott DeMaria was the Notre Dame swimmer who lost two of her teammates and laid in the snow unable to move anything on the night of January 24. The 18-year-old was told by the medical staff that she would never walk again, and that the sooner that she accepted her condition and fate, the better.


As I sat in the audience, listening to her story, I was inspired by her shear determination and perseverance.

She dismissed the nurses who said she was in denial to think she’d ever be able to use her legs again. Instead, she fought. She fought so hard. Every day. Through multiple back surgeries and physical therapy. She didn’t give up when it would have been so easy to.

I recognized the tools of empowerment that she spoke about–faith, family, friends, community–as those of us with chronic illnesses and severe mood disorders employ every day to make it through the day. And I really related to the times of grieving she described … when she so wanted her old life back again. She would say to herself during those moments, “That life is gone. Let it go. But answer this question: What do you want from your life now?”


Like Haley, I yearn for my old brain chemistry and healthy condition … the old days before I had to make appointments with five kinds of doctors (endocrinologist, cardiologist, internist, psychologist, and psychiatrist) … before my pituitary tumor and valve regurgitation, and before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and Raynaud’s Phenomenon.

But that’s a useless exercise.

However, I CAN ask myself, “Where do we go from here?” Let’s think about all the things we CAN do, and let’s try like hell to make progress. So, whether it’s numbness in our legs and painful cramps in our back like Haley experiences, or a black out in the emotional center of our brain … we can trudge forward together in our limitations, maybe even BECAUSE OF our limitations, in the sense that they give us new meaning for our life.


To read more about Haley’s story, visit her website at

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  • John McManamy

    Hey, Therese. Great inspirational story and a good way to start my week. Many thanks –

  • cb

    Yes, it is a good, inspirational story. But, inspirational stories abound and I’m afraid they usually don’t make much difference to me when I’m in the muck of bipolarity. Right now I’m feeling good, however, a coupla years ago I was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus and my 1st inclination was to think, “Oh, God it’s not enough I have to be compromised by bipolar, now I have this!” I was a late-in-life returnee to college, ready to earn my B.A. when I got this diagnosis and I was very upset that something else going on inside my head could derail my goal. I’m thrilled to say that derailment did not take place and I earned my B.A. in Communication Studies a year ago.

  • Christin

    I really thank you for sharing that story. It is uplifting and it is very inspiring! It makes you think that no matter what problems you are having, you can get through them and succeed! Thank you!

  • clare

    I loved that story and understand so well, the need to hold on to hope- overcoming obstacles in life. Especially with the twists and turns Bipolar takes us on, that emotional roller coaster. That story is just what I needed to hear. I think the feelings of isolation, especially when sometimes there are more than one[that is kind of a joke] things that accompany bipolar- add on’s. That is when a sense of humor has to come in handy when all my tears are drained dry and even I can’t stand my own company-I have to constantly reinvent myself.

  • Liberty

    thanks you for this.
    Whether life is going great or not, whether or not I am depressed or not, Where do I want to go from here” is a valuable question.

  • vitamine k

    I may have to get a tattoo along these lines…. one can never be reminded too often. Thank you!

  • My Name

    I won over most of my psychiatric stumbling blocks recently and have been in a state of wonder at my own achievements since then. When you get to the top of the mountain, you always realize the climb was worth it. There’s a reason to celebrate all the time and glory in the newly-discovered life with all its promise.
    Yet it can be humbling to read something like this. It’s always good to relive a struggle, even if not your own. It prepares you for any eventuality, unwelcome as that eventuality may be.

  • Your Name

    This is the question I was asking myself today. There is a lot of us who have to put our lifes back together again after a major situation. John 3;17 says “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them”. Positive attitude, laugh, play, love and push forward. It is amazing, the mountains the human being can move with positive influence.

  • Leeann Danzig

    My attitude these days are of one day at a time, one hour and even one minute some days, I have bipolar/depression and also back problems. Well neither are going to take me down I have and will continue to fight to get what it is I need whether it be my bipolar or the surgery I may need to have in my lower back. First I will not continue to fall and take the risk of becoming paralized when I go to the neorsurgeon I will look at the options but I will advocate for myself and most likely go for the surgery the fusion I need yes I could be worse but what at this point do I have to lose. My Bipolar I will continue to advocate as well my meds were working but I believe it needs to be increased yes I have side effects but it outweighs what I have been going through the last few weeks. I use to think negitive and be a negitive person, I am trying to be positive making positive changes in my life and everyday even if it is a bad one either phyiscal or mental I try to find one positive thing from the day. Some days that is a hard thing to do especially when I am in that depressed mood or those I love fight that change and push those triggers but then I find solitude in prayer and then some little positive thing will happen. I use to laugh when people would tell me if you think positive, positive things will happen and vise versa..Well I no longer think that way. I am sorry for all the mis spelled words but mind is working faster than fingers are and I think everyone will be able to get the message.
    Thank You
    God Bless you and all your bloggers and for those suffering

  • chine
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