I am Still here is a nonfiction memoir that chronicles Irene’s journey to recovery after she was in a horrific car accident in which she sustained a traumatic brain injury. Irene suddenly found herself in a totally different world – the challenging world of the disabled. Her story details her desperate search for answers to difficult questions that arise due to her brain that was badly injured and its remarkable ability of repairing itself to a great extent. Irene speaks about the important lessons she learned after the life altering accident, the enriching as well as upsetting experiences and all her remarkable victories. Her courage, determination and fighting spirit will certainly amaze and inspire you.
It is available in English and Afrikaans
Who would believe that such a gruesome accident can spark a wonderful zest for life, wisdom and insight, motivation and inspiration? To walk with Irene down the road to a whole new life should give anyone who pick up and read this book greater understanding of the word determination. Helga Steyn
SA Independent Publisher Awards
In May 2016 Irene won two South African Independent Publisher Awards at the Athol Fugard and JM Coetzee Literary Festival held in Booktown, Richmond, Karoo. It was awarded to her by Peter Barker and Darryl David. The first was the Miriam Tlali Award for best autobiography/memoir and the second was the BOOKBEDONNERD Award for being the overall winner.
Why I wrote a book
I am embarrassed to admit that before I sustained a massive brain injury I was rather ignorant about what it could entail if the brain broke. I used to think that everyone who suffered brain damage was immediately robbed of their IQ. I hang my head in shame for harboring such an awful assumption.
The way most people suddenly treated me just because they heard I had brain damage, and the mere fact that I was in a wheelchair, proofed to me that my ignorance (before the accident) was alarmingly the general consensus. Most people thought I was dumb. You see, unfortunately as soon as you walk or talk differently than what is considered normal in the greater part of our society people think that you are dumb.
Most able-bodied persons also decide to side-step someone with a disability in order to avoid awkwardness and embarrassment because they have no idea how they should act. I believe that this is because a lack of common knowledge and general awareness exists. This gap of information is mainly because one is usually only concerned with any disability when a loved one is directly affected. So now I want to try and change that. I feel the need to if I want to hang on to my sanity.
I know understanding begets compassion and my main aim is to create awareness about brain injuries in order to promote kindness and consideration towards myself as well as other people in similar positions as mine. I hope my book will help with creating a shift in consciousness so that the general public will be more mindful towards disabled persons.
Anita Roddick says: “Be courageous. It’s one of the only places left uncrowded.” How true these words are. Even before Irene’s accident I knew there were few people with her powers of perseverance. Now, after the accident, I know there are even less. RIAN VAN HEERDEN