Woman's tough choice after brother's devastating death

·News Editor
·4-min read

Louise Ellery defied all odds after she was in a five-month coma that left her in a vegetative state.

After a car accident in 1988 when she was just 21, Ms Ellery was left with a serious brain injury that required her to learn how to talk, walk and eat again.

But despite Ms Ellery's incredible journey of recovery and becoming a four-time Paralympian, it has not been an easy road, and one that has come with many mental health battles.

Following her car accident as Ms Ellery was going through her rehabilitation, she was diagnosed with bipolar.

Louise Ellery made a tough choice to compete at Athens despite losing her bother weeks earlier. Source: supplied
Louise Ellery made a tough choice to compete at Athens despite losing her bother weeks earlier. Source: supplied

Telling her story as part of Yahoo News Australia's What's Up? mental health series, Ms Ellery said her moods would plunge her into dark thoughts of suicide before swinging her into a euphoric state.

"Everyone has ups and downs in their lives ... but that combined with a brain injury is exhausting," she said.

According to mental health organisation Black Dog Institute, people with bipolar disorder can experience extreme moods of feeling really high to really low.

"Bipolar is a chronic mental health condition with strong changes in mood and energy. One in 50 adult Australians experience bipolar disorder each year," the institute says.

During her rehab, Ms Ellery discovered a love for athletics, an activity that has helped her manage the curve balls of her recovery and mental health.

"Sport helps me manage that," she said.

Louise Ellery faced with tough choice

Going from being in a vegetative state to a champion shot putter, Ms Ellery was chosen to compete at her very first Paralympic Games in Athens in 2004.

But as she was preparing for the debut in the weeks before, she received the devastating blow her brother had died in a car accident.

As we enter 2021, after struggling through a devastating 2020, Yahoo News Australia has teamed up with Lifeline to tell the truth about mental health with real stories from the real people who have lived it.

Have a story to share? Email whatsup@yahoonews.com.

With the games just two weeks away, Ms Ellery had to make the tough choice whether she would still travel to Athens to compete.

"I knew how much my brother wanted me to go, and so I went," she said.

Louise Ellery with her mother and brother. Source: Supplied
Louise Ellery with her mother and brother. Source: Supplied

Ms Ellery recalled feeling alone when she arrived in Athens, but with the support of her teammates, she went on to place sixth at the Women's Shot Put F32-34/52-53.

She later went on to become a champion Paralympian, winning a gold and setting a new world record at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, taking home silver at the 2012 London games and bronze at the Rio Paralympics in 2016 before retiring in 2017.

Paralympian reveals best medicine for mental health

Despite the many hardships and hurdles Ms Ellery has faced in her life, she says she manages her mental health by continuing to exercise and getting enough sleep.

She says sleep is absolutely vital, noticing her own moods becoming manic if she doesn't get enough.

The Paralympian says spending time with loved ones is also key.

Louise Ellery defied all odds and became a champion Paralympian. Source: Supplied
Louise Ellery defied all odds and became a champion Paralympian. Source: Supplied

"Just being outside and being with friends, it's really, really important," she said.

"When things are up and down keep floating along.

"There’s always Lifeline to talk to someone if you’re feeling sad. People are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week – never think you’re alone."

Ms Ellery said no matter how dark the days are, always try to find the laughter and remember to smile.

"Laughing has been good for my mental health," she said.

"Laughing is a good medicine and the best thing to do. It can push you through so many things."

Despite the constant battles Ms Ellery has continued to face throughout her life, she says she is just like everybody else.

"I see myself as the person next door no different to anyone else – maybe a little crazy but in a good way," she said.

"I also think that having a pet also keeps me level, and I’m so lucky my family is very much my support crew."

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting