How I defied doctors who told me I would never walk again
After an accident left her immobile, Lisa was considering suicide - but thanks to an episode of This Morning she turned her life around.
“I think I was dead already,” says Lisa Whelan. “My body and mind had shut down. I didn't speak. I was in a dark depression.”
When she was 30 Lisa, now 42, was living her dream. She had spent 15 years in the music industry as a PA to Liam Gallagher and The Pet Shop Boys and had just been accepted into acting school.
“When I got into drama school after five years of applying, my life seemed amazing. I had money, I'd had a great job, I'd travelled the world, everything was going my way.”
“And then bang. In an instant it was gone.”
“During a dance class in my first year, I went up in the air, span and fell. I hit the floor so hard, when I tried to get up, I couldn't move.”
“In hospital they did X-rays and tests and told me to come back in two weeks for an assessment. I went back, but there was no progress.
“The doctors were so dismissive. They knew I couldn't move my knee but nothing showed up on the outside. They gave me a wheelchair and told me to adapt to a life without walking.
“I was living every day, just hoping it would get better. I saw a chiropractor, a physio and the top knee doctor in Windsor, but no one could do anything. It was hell, like living in no man's land.”
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“For two years, I spent most of my time in bed. My family were supportive, but my marriage broke down. It was a big test for us.
“My husband would get up at 6am and go to work and I would be on my own all day in bed. I'd put the TV on, and he would come back at 11 at night and go to sleep.
“He paid for me to go to private doctors to get my leg and back looked at in the hope that someone would help, but no one could. He didn't know what to say to me.
“People disappear when you are in this kind of situation. They don't know what to do. It's fair enough. At the time, I would have run away from me.”
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A deep depression
Lisa admits withdrawing into herself completely.
“After two years I was suicidal. I had decided how I would kill myself and had even written the letters to my family. I was living in perpetual fear.
“I hadn't been using my legs so my muscles had wasted and I was very weak. My legs were like jelly and I was a nervous wreck the whole time.
“One day I thought, right, this is it, I'm out of here. I decided to take the tablets.
“But switching on the TV, I caught the tail end of This Morning, and there was this man, Hratch Ogali, claiming to have saved a girl who hadn't walked for twelve years.
“I was desperate. It was so impulsive. I picked up the phone and called This Morning. I was in such a state that I was sobbing to the woman on the phone saying 'I need to meet him, I am going to kill myself'.
“I met him that afternoon. Straight away I connected with him. He put his hand on my leg and I cried solidly for an hour. I didn't say a word.
“He said to me 'I'm going to get you back on your feet and you will walk again, there is no doubt,' and I believed him. After one hour, I left feeling the calmest I have ever felt. Entering the room I wanted to die, on leaving I wanted to live forever. He saved my life.”
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The healing journey
“It took six months to stand, and nine months in total to walk.
“I saw Hratch every day for those months. We did a lot of work on the bike and walking on the running machine with a harness for support.
“But what helped me the most was the mental side of it. He believed that both the body and the mind can break, and what can cure them is correctly instructing positive thought in the subconscious. Now looking back I know that in my case, the biggest factor was the fear of being out of control.
“I had no control of my body, no control of my mind and no control of my life.
“He told me to meditate for an hour every day, but as I am quite an extreme person, I ended up doing it for five hours every day. He said if I did this I would walk, and that I'd be able to deal with whatever happened in the future.
“When an athlete is running in the Olympics they go beyond what they think is possible, and that’s what you have to do to get better. Before meeting Hratch, I was very fearful. I would start things but never finish them because I thought I was no good.
“I've done more in the last five years than I did in the past thirty years. I’ve now written, produced and directed four plays in London, written a film script and even a book. Anyone can do it, it's just being able to apply your mind.
“I meditate every day. It's like seeing the world in Blu-Ray. You deal with things in absolute clarity and you are strong mentally and physically.
“I had a terrible relationship with my family before, and now it's fantastic.
“It makes you know what you can do but remain humble, it is very fine tuned teaching. I wouldn't be alive today without it.”
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Giving something back
“As I had been saved by the power of a television programme I decided to make my own documentary on how the teaching worked.
“I spent six years working with Hratch on a film called Mind Over Science to help others who are in the situation I was in.
“We finished and gained a US distributor, but in that very same week, at sixty-years-old, Hratch died suddenly. I had no idea what to do without him.
“I then decided that I would teach Hratch's methods myself with his son, Seto. I hope to give people the tools to deal with any situation life throws at them in a calm and collected way.
“If I can help people get out of the situation I was in, that will be my biggest achievement.”
Mind Over Science is a documentary based on the teachings of Hratch Ogali, continued by Lisa Whelan and Seto Darakjian. The full documentary will be released in Autumn 2012.