Broken by a Man in a Green Jacket

This post is about the accident which triggered the downward spiral of my mental health and resulted in the end of my business. The purpose for me sharing these stories is to highlight that mental health can effect anyone’s life regardless of their situation, success, job or background. And I guess, Shit happens.

As I said in Intro: The Graveyard of my Achievements my business was driven by my love of skiing and design however this have now progressed to my love of business, skiing innovation and my incredible mentors at The Royal Society of Edinburgh and Entrepreneurial Business School.

While riding the wave of success our company had worked for, we had a strict schedule of milestones to complete before the end of my Fellowship. It’s a crude and unfortunate pun that I wanted to go out with a bang, I was dreading the end; unlike my friends within the cohort this wasn’t because of the funding, late reports and writing business plans… I would miss the people, support and the monthly ‘therapy’ sessions with the cohort and mentors. It was the end of something amazing and it deserved to end on a high!

I had business trips planned which involved skiing throughout Europe for promotional material, networking and marketing plans. Our First trip was Morzine / France, where I had friends who were ‘doing a season’. The first day out was a beautiful bluebird, the snow was a bit sparse as it was early season and the slopes were busy in areas because it was English half-term. We were out scouting for a good run and having an epic day when we find an excellent deserted run under a chair in the heart of Avoriaz.

For all you skiers and Boarders:

You know the feeling whole you have a truly spectacular run? Your edges are right, your position is solid, the sun is out and you completely slay a line? Our first run down here was like that.

We came off the chair and realised it was empty because there were signs displaying advanced skiers only, regarde your speed etc… We were out as a four: I went first, Michael second, then Nic and Shaun. We had a glorious run, the kind that makes you shriek “YEOW” at the top of your lungs as you hit a kicker at the side of the piste. And as we came to the bottom I looked up with a smile on my face but had the thought – I don’t think I’ll top that.

The Accident

We decided to circuit this run and as we off the chair decided to set off in the same order; I take off first and stick to the side of the piste weaving between the poles where the snow is still fluffy; I ski with controlled tight swing turns which make it easy to anticipate where I will turn on a slope. I heard a noise from uphill from my friends and I have no idea what it was…

 

RULES OF THE SLOPES:

Those who are downhill have right of way.

 

An out of control skier, unable to control his speed, collides into the back of me causing me to crash and fall HARD. I felt my legs cave from under me and I spin down the slope holding my knee tight in my chest – praying for the pain to just go away and be a bruise. I hear Michael stop near me and ask in a panicked voice if I’m okay. I could barely speak as I’m curled up and tell him I’m waiting for the pain to pass.

The man who hit me is an old English man who should have known better… Known better to attempt a slope above his ability and certain should have known better to at least apologise.

He left… And I am on the ground praying my legs are fine.

Michael was concerned I might have assaulted the man if and when I would stand up- clearly unaware how injured I was.

He’s right, I would have torn his fucking head off.

I was later told the man came down behind me and was so out of control he was teetering from ski to ski trying to catch his balance and slow down. As I was at the side of the piste I was initially well out of his way however I was told “it was as though he saw you and made a beeline for you”. As I have explained to countless taxi drivers in reply to “What happened”, it’s like teaching a child how to ride a bike. You tell them “avoid that pole” the first thing they do is fixate on it and hit the pole.

After a while I forced myself up and flexed my legs, furious and trembling.

My leg doesn’t feel right.
My leg won’t bend right.
My leg is unstable.
Ignore the pain, it’s just a bruise.
Paula, get off the mountain.

I get my skis on a demand to know which way he went because NO WAY was I letting him get away with it. Old English guy, green jacket. Old English guy, green jacket. Old English guy, green jacket. As soon as I took off I knew nothing was okay, I took off slowly and I soon realised I was struggling to turn left, which means right leg. I had Michael escorting my down to the chair where I was hoping to go up to get to the down lift and get off the hill; on the chair the adrenaline soon wears off.

I collapse getting off the chairlift screaming in agony.

I am lifted off the mountain via helicopter and taken to hospital.

I am promptly told my season and potentially next year is over.

Bought and paid for ski trips, business trips, video shoots, cycling… Walking? Out.

I sobbed uncontrollably in the hospital for hours with most people assuming I was in pain but I was crying because my future and progress had just been stolen.  I could see how this would impact everything: My Fellowship, finances, marketing, milestones, reports, staff, progress, the people I’d disappoint and my mental health. I felt the anticipation of all the things that will not happen with looming loss and depression quickly sinking in.

I arrived back in the UK in a wheelchair with my crutches at my side imagining the face of that selfish man who stole my hope and future. Him, and his green jacket. I messaged my Captain Minty telling him I had some bad news, and asked if he was available for a call, he replied saying “…Hope you haven’t broken a leg Miss Fox!” -Little did he know?

I had 10 months of hard recovery with the added treasure of dented confidence and paranoia at the thought of skiing because I wouldn’t be able to trust anyone around me.

That man almost ruined skiing. Instead he simply caused a chain reaction and downward spiral which resulted in The Graveyard of my Achievements.

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