Laura (or Birdie as we know her) has come a tremendously long way from where she was just a few short years ago. Having had a poor childhood, Laura made a life changing (or ending decision) having had enough. Astoundingly after she threw herself in front of a lorry in full motorway traffic, Laura survived. She was nursed and cared for physically back to health having suffered some very significant injuries. Unfortunately her experience of being cared for psychologically did not match up. Laura was left feeling awful about herself, her actions and her life. It was within her, however, to keep searching for help. She found Thrive. She got stuck in. She turned her life around. The rest is history – having now found love and a passion for fitness in life, her next challenge to conquer is to qualify as a firefighter. And we know she will do it.
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Personal trainer, 22, who tried to kill herself but survived with horrific injuries now says the traumatic experience has helped her appreciate the joys of life
- Laura Bird, from Cambridge, was devastated by death of school friend
- She tried to step into traffic but believes she was saved by fate
- Miss Bird broke multiple ribs, had portions of skin ripped away and broke her femur so severely doctors considered amputating her leg
- She has made a full recovery and now sees her ordeal as a blessing
- WARNING, CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES
A personal trainer who survived an attempt to kill herself says that despite being left with horrific injuries the experience has made her appreciate life.
Laura Bird, 22, from Cambridge, wanted to end her life after her school friend Sian died in a car accident when she was a teenager.
Unable to see a future for herself, she stepped into traffic and although she survived, broke multiple ribs, had large portions of her skin ripped away and broke her femur so severely that doctors considered amputating her leg.
Personal trainer Laura Bird, 22, from Cambridge (pictured left as a torch bearer before the London 2012 Olympic Games) survived an attempt to kill herself and despite being left with horrific injuries, says the experience has made her appreciate life
Miss Bird, who believes fate saved her, made a full recovery and works as a personal trainer as well as playing on a women’s football team. She says she now sees her ordeal as a blessing.
‘I had planned to do something catastrophic,’ she said. ‘It wasn’t because I wanted to kill myself, it was more that all my peers were planning life after college and moving on and I couldn’t see any future for myself.
‘Waking up after the accident, I was in complete disbelief. I hadn’t considered that it wouldn’t end my life, but now I see it as a blessing as I appreciate life more than I ever did before.’
When Miss Bird was 16, her close friend Sian in a car crash and she found she was unable to move on from her grief.
Two years later, when other school friends were applying for university or planning a gap year, she felt helpless and shortly before her 18th birthday tried to take an overdose of pills which left her in hospital for several days.
Miss Bird, who spent a month in hospital, told her friends she had suffered a shark bite on her leg
X-rays reveal the damage to Miss Bird’s leg after she tried to kill herself
‘Thankfully I chickened out and phoned my friend straight away and asked for help – even though it had been planned for a while,’ she said.
‘I was in hospital for a while but I didn’t tell many people about it, only a couple of best friends. I feel bad for my family when I look back. They were really concerned, but I was verging on 18 so they couldn’t control everything I did.’
Three weeks later, before she left college one Friday afternoon, Miss Bird confided in a female teacher that she planned to go and walk into traffic that night.
When the teacher didn’t attempt to stop her, Miss Bird got into her Ford KA and drove from Ipswich – where she grew up – for an hour an a half, finally pulling over in a layby near Cambridge.
‘I was in an incredibly difficult place,’ she said. ‘I just couldn’t deal with life. I planned to do something quite catastrophic, and when I warned my teacher it was almost in a “you can’t stop me” kind of way.
After the attempt, Miss Bird was airlifted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, where she woke up four days later.
Doctors weren’t sure if she would survive the crash and also contemplated amputating her right leg, as her femur was broken and she had lost a huge amount of skin.
Miss Bird said: ‘When I woke up afterwards, it was just unbelievable. I knew in that moment that someone was looking down on me. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t been killed.
‘I’d had three skin grafts immediately but the scarring on my leg was shocking and I was telling everyone I’d suffered a shark bite. I felt lucky that the only scars were on my leg – I don’t know quite how I managed that.
‘Being in hospital for the next month was helpful, as I could reflect and think about things. When you survive something like that, you have to think ‘stop being an idiot and pull yourself together!’
‘I did as much schoolwork as I could while in hospital as I wanted something to focus on. I managed to get
While in hospital, Miss Bird did as much schoolwork as possible, wanting something to focus on.
Though friends Annalise and Alice were able to visit her, the hospital was an hour and a half away from her home because of where the incident had taken place.
‘It was like being in a bubble for a month,’ she said. ‘When I was finally allowed home I was very immobile and couldn’t do anything for myself. I’d been living at my grandparents’ previously but I went to live at my dad’s house so he could take care of me.
‘Over the next few weeks and months I tried to get back to some kind of normality. I had always loved studying, so I threw myself into that.
‘I managed to sit my A Levels in Sports Science, Psychology and English along with everyone else the following spring and got an A* and two As. The suicide attempt had been a turning point and suddenly I had so much to work hard for and live for.’
Miss Bird went to university in Hertfordshire, but felt it was too soon after the accident and did not return after her first year.
A close friend who knew about her past realised Miss Bird was suffering and helped her find a counsellor.
She said: ‘I read about Rob Kelly’s Thrive self-help programme on the internet and there was an incredible number of people giving him positive reviews. I didn’t want to speak to a therapist who was going to just categorise me.
Miss Bird has now made a full recovery and as well as working as a personal trainer enjoys playing football
Miss Bird (right) in action on the pitch where she plays as a goalkeeper
‘Rob has been through it himself so I knew he would understand and appreciate my story. I wasn’t still feeling suicidal at all, I was so proud of myself. I just felt stuck and didn’t know what to do after dropping out of university.
‘I didn’t know how to move on after the accident and I was guilty of living in the past, thinking about the accident all the time. But Rob convinced me that it’s not about your past, it’s about your future.’
As a survivor who’d turned her life around, Miss Bird was nominated by a school friend to carry the Olympic Torch during the relay prior to the London games in July 2012.
She said: ‘Carrying the torch was amazing. It showed me that life can be full of amazing things, so don’t chuck it away. It was another experience to make me realise that you can come through these things.
‘I trained as a personal trainer after that point and am looking to set up my own business. I’ve always played football so I’ve set up a women’s team in Bar Hill. I don’t let my injuries hold me back. I had metal rods and pins in my femur initially, but they were removed in 2013 and I’ve made a great recovery.
‘I had an amazing plastic surgeon who operated on my scars last year. It was a very long process – a balloon was inserted into my leg and inflated over ten weeks, to stretch the skin and pull it over the scarring.’
Despite what she put herself through, Miss Bird says she is happier than ever, has her own flat and is in a loving relationship with a fellow footballer, Amanda.
She regrets her actions in 2010, but firmly believes it’s made her the person who she is today.
‘My life has been shaped by what happened that day,’ she said. ‘I have such a different outlook now.
‘My biggest regret is that I have no idea who the driver was. I don’t know what happened to him. It’s reassuring to know that he didn’t suffer any injuries but I would love to be able to apologise to him.’