GPH Real Stories - Shannon's Story

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April 09, 2020

Sannon Smith and Nicole Dash3

Two years ago, as a 17-year-old, Shannon describes the day her ‘world came crashing down around her’.

“Out of the blue I was struck with Bell’s palsy,” she said.

 “It affected the facial muscles on the right side of my face, I had to use a straw to drink and had lots of trouble eating – I couldn’t even taste food,” Shannon added.

The condition also affected Shannon’s hearing and speech. She endured teasing from her friends, which caused her to retreat into herself and withdraw from her friends and family. For a 17-year-old who was doing her best to navigate normal teenager things like; high school, friendship and her future, the diagnosis was devastating.

At age 18, Shannon was referred to headspace Goulburn after seeing her GP about the depression and loneliness she was experiencing. She met with Nicole, a Psychologist at Headspace Goulburn who was able to support Shannon by helping her to understand more about Bell’s palsy and the impact the diagnosis was having on her.

Shannon describes Nicole as someone she found easy to talk to and through their sessions Shannon was able to find the confidence to make some changes and move forward.

Shannon got to a point where she wanted to write about her story on social media and considered the pros/cons of it being posted on Facebook with Nicole. Shannon wanted to give hope to others in her situation but was aware of the risk that people might respond negatively. She decided to go through with it and was glad she did according to Nicole:

“One of the positive outcomes for Shannon was the healing of herself, her family and broken friendships once they read her story.”

“She also joined a Bell’s Palsy support group, where she’s been able to share her story with and help others as far away as the Philippines,” added Nicole.

Today, Shannon continues to heal from Bell’s palsy and has come a long way.  She is about to embark on an 18-day trip to the UK by herself with her newfound confidence, which is something she never thought she could do.

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