“In the blink of an eye, I went from being an active, autonomous athlete to suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that took 70% of my vision and nearly my life. Now I aim to be mindful in every moment and strive to make every second count while adventuring in mountains around the world.”
Jill in her own words:
“On a day that began like any other in a high school Physical Education class, September 2014 began an expedition of survival. A line drive, a hardball to the head, began a climb testing personal strength and human potential. A medical team, hundreds of hands from 7 hospitals across 3 countries, guided me towards a peak that felt impossible to climb, traumatic brain injury (TBI). While I craved to climb alone, they got me to the summit but my work was just getting started. Now I am traversing an avalanche triggered by the TBI which left me days from death, with 70% vision loss and a life threatening eating disorder.
No mountain can challenge me the way traumatic brain injury has. I chose to adventure in massifs around the world with the intention to adapt to vision loss and acceptance of the trail my life had taken.
From surviving to thriving, I have run, climbed, and skied my way around the world embracing the 30% vision I am fortunate to have. My trails have connected with the Andorra Pyrenees, Italian Dolomites, French and Swiss Alps, Slovenia’s Julian Alps, Iceland, India and Nepal Himalaya, New Zealand, Argentina, Peru, and the American Rockies.
As a traumatic brain injury survivor and visually impaired athlete adventuring in mountains around the world, I have a complex story of resilience to share. Speaking to resilience, head injuries, eating disorders, visual impairments, trauma, or mental health or simply sharing my story, I can make connections through authentic tales of my trails from depths of darkness to adventuring in the highest of the Himalayas.”
CONTENT WARNING - We discuss; Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), eating disorders, anxiety, PTSD and thoughts of suicide.
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Listen to Jill Now!
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Speaking to us from Nepal
Who is Jill in her own words
Growing up in a sporty, adventurous family
Becoming a teacher and following her passion for travel
Teaching in Singapore, Russia, Switzerland and Germany
Taking advantage of the opportunity to travel
September 2018 and how her life changed in an instant
Being hit by a hard ball on the side of her head
Going to hospital and being send home
Ending up in intensive care with a bleeding and swelling brain
Dealing with a Traumatic Brain Injury
Finding out she would never see out of her right eye again
Losing depth perception
The impact the TBI has had on her appetite and relationship with food
Seeing multiple specialists and spending a lot of time in hospital
Starting to get her independence back while in Colorado
Looking out to the mountains
Feeling very lost and grieving her past life
Needing to go and heal in the mountains
Starting to travel again
Creating a blueprint and plan for the future
Being open to change….
Falling in love with Nepal and being inspired to get back into running
Not wanting to share her story
Being authentic with her feelings and being vulnerable
Starting her website and starting to share her story
Not wanting to do social media
Accepting that her life had changed
Testing herself at altitude
Getting connected with the running and climbing community in Nepal
Dealing with pneumonia
Starting to climb higher in the Himalayas
Planning to climb mountains over 6,000 metres
Dealing with covid in Nepal and being in lockdown for 8 months
Trying ice-climbing in early 2020
Escaping the lockdown and heading up into the mountains
Not being able to run while in rundown and having to try different types of training while indoors
Losing her father suddenly and supporting her family from afar
Spending time alone in the mountains
Training to climb the 8th highest mountain in the worlds - Manasulu
Visa’s for Nepal and being on a student visa
Managing depth perception while climbing mountains
Spending time in the mountains as part of the healing process
Acceptance of what’s happened?
Dealing with dark days and using different tools to help manage the feelings
Why meditation is a significant part of her daily practice
Hiding behind her sunglasses and not being comfortable with the way she looks
Being a work in progress and being aware of her mindset and thoughts
The good wolf and the bad wolf - choosing which one to feed
Wanting to build on the good
Connecting with Jill
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