Articles, Blog

Farming from a wheelchair (Being Me: Jack)

* (PENSIVE ELECTRONIC MUSIC) I definitely didn’t choose
to be in a wheelchair. But now that I’ve been given
almost a second opportunity, and it just means that I have
to be in a wheelchair, it’s kind of
something that I’ve had to accept — make the most out of the opportunity
that I have now. I’m still—
Yeah, I’m still alive. Like,… I’m still a person. It’s… a real weird feeling of being lost and… not being able to find yourself. It’s like a balloon. You keep filling that
balloon up with your feelings
and your emotions, and you wait for the balloon to pop. And once that balloon pops,
you kind of… feel like you’re floating, and you
don’t know how to get yourself down. (RAIN PATTERS) Captions by Glenna Casalme Captions were made with
the support of NZ On Air.
Copyright Able 2019 (PENSIVE MUSIC) I’m Jack Brown. I’m 21, and I’m
from Palmerston North originally. T11, T12 paraplegic, which is basically a complete sever
of the spinal cord, which means that I’m left
with pretty much little to none
feeling in my legs. Dad’s in the army. Been in
the army for 30 years now. Um, so we grew up in army housing. And then when I was about 9,
10, my parents separated, and then I moved into Palmerston
North for a couple of years. I was actually kicked out
of school when I was 16, being a rebellious teenaged boy
that didn’t wanna follow the rules. I went to a Catholic school and didn’t really
follow their values. Like, I’d rather be out
playing sports or doing
something with my mates than playing PlayStation
kind of thing. Like, it just
wasn’t really my thing. I just wanted to get out there
and do something active and
do something with my hands. My dad bought a house in Sanson, and LeAnne and Ian ended up getting
a house next door to us to renovate, and that’s where we met them.
They were actually our neighbours. (GENTLE, HOPEFUL MUSIC) We live in Inglewood. I grew up here, in terms
of 10 K towards the mountain. We refer to him as our foster son,
and we moved on that pretty much
since day dot, quite, but I mean, you know,
since he came up here. He’s a very likeable person. Some of you guys would have noticed
that medium, in terms of, you know, he’s very able to sort of
get on terms with people, in the sense that, you know,
he relates well to other people on
a whole lot of different levels. And I think that sort of
charismatic, likeable-ness
shows through a lot. Morning, mate.
Morning. I’ve worked with Ian for, like, five
minutes now, so I kind of know what
he expects or know what he wants, so a lot of the time,
it makes it pretty easy. And he’s a pretty chilled out guy. What I normally do is get the—
grab the top one and then loop it
under the bottom one, and then just swing it to there.
And then soon as you open the gate, they should just come out here,
I think. It’s quite easy to… He’s like a dad at
the same time as a boss, at the same time as a workmate,
so it’s a real cool relationship
that we have together. Sweet. Who was that? (DOG BARKS)
Uh-uh! (WHEELS RUMBLE) This is basically the only thing
I’ve ever done for work. I started working for them
six years ago, when I was living
at home with my parents, and then moved up here
when I was 16, with them, and it’s just been farming
ever since. So, yeah. Love it. (ENGINE RUMBLES, COWS MOO) Fencing’s a big— a big challenge,
um, trying to get the standards
in the ground. And the gates —
cos not every gate is easy. And we’ve got bungee gates,
and handles kind of go flying
everywhere sometimes, so that makes it definitely
a lot more challenging. They can be pretty pushy some days. I use this here mainly
around the cow shed. Um, doesn’t go too well out on
the paddock, but around the cow shed and when I’m doing stuff that
needs to get dirty, so, yeah. (COWS MOO) (COW LOWS) Beforehand, I was a lot taller
than the cows, whereas now, the cows
are the same height as me. So I kinda get pushed around
a bit more. So I just have to be
careful of that. 146… is green. When I was about 12, 13,
I had a bit of a struggle and started seeing counselling
and stuff like that but kind of decided to bottle
my emotions up, cos I didn’t know
how to deal with them. Part of the problem was— is seeing
mental health as a weakness and that if I was to talk to
somebody about it, it wasn’t manly, and that if I was… to accept it, then it was a problem. (PENSIVE MUSIC) I got to the point where I was
hurting so much, and the only way
I could find myself to be happy was to remove myself
from the situation. It was just a typical day. Come inside and then just kind of
just chilled out, didn’t really know
what I was thinking. And then went outside, and it was
about 10 o’clock that I went out,
maybe 9 o’clock, and just kinda just started driving. (SOLEMN MUSIC) And I just drove around for
about an hour, hour and a half, and then ended up parking up
underneath the shopping centre
in town… and sat there for about 20 minutes. * (PENSIVE MUSIC) I can remember waking up
in New Plymouth Hospital, and it was a real weird feeling,
because— This may sound crazy, but no one knows what
happens when you die. And I was so convinced
that I’d died, that I was… in what someone would call heaven
and that I’d gone to that place, and no one could prove to me that
you couldn’t have your family next
to your hospital bed there. And it took quite a while
for me to come to the fact that I was actually still alive
and that the family was actually
at my bedside, and everything was
still just normal life. And that’s when I realised that it
was permanent and it was for life. It was really hard, because
basically I went into it with
a thousand problems that I thought. And then to pretty much find out
that I had 10,000 more was… definitely the hardest time of my
life. Like, it was… It pretty much
crushed me completely. (SOMBRE MUSIC) All right, so Jack’s stepmum,
they’ve got 3 acres in Sanson,
and they keep some cattle. So effectively, they’d
ring up at odd times saying, ‘What do I do with this sheep?
What do I do with this cow?’ So I got up in the morning… of the 28th,… and I had a message
from her saying,… (SHUDDERS) ‘Ring me urgently,
whatever time it is.’ At probably, you know, 10 to 5 in
the morning, I’d rung up and said,
you know, ‘What’s going on?’ And she said, ‘Oh, Jake’s had a—
There’s been a car crash, and he’s
broken his back, ‘and then they don’t think
he’s gonna walk again.’ (FORLORN MUSIC) I, uh, got back to the shed, shut the gate, came inside,
woke LeAnne up, said, ‘This is what’s happened.
You need to go into the hospital.’ (WISTFUL MUSIC) Jack was, um,… strapped down to a board, with a big head collar and, um, tubes everywhere, and
we were in intensive care. Um, Jack was relatively drowsy.
He was in shock. They’d given him
a lot of pain medication. And he was just— He just kept
mumbling, ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry.
I’m so sorry.’ I look back at it and kind of accept that there was depression there, and accept
the fact that I didn’t deal
with it the right way. My competitive side of me definitely
came out, and I’m like, ‘I need to be able to accomplish
everything in everything before
I leave hospital.’ Yeah.
Well done, Jack. Sitting up in bed. Rehab was really hard time. I was on bed for six weeks and then
did six weeks of rehab at hospital. The physio side of things was
a real mental struggle for me to be able to accept that
I wouldn’t be able to walk, but I also couldn’t do what
he was telling me straight away and that it was gonna
take time for me to learn. (MUSIC PLAYS FAINTLY ON RADIO) Because I’d seen him do it,
I was just like, ‘If he can do it, then
surely I’m not that disabled;
I can do it myself.’ So I kind of wanted to be
able to prove to myself that
it was still doable. And it was like seeing steps in the
gym and being like, ‘I’ve gotta be
able to get up these steps. ‘Otherwise, how am I gonna get
around and get into people’s houses
and stuff like that?’ (RISING, HOPEFUL MUSIC) So when I came back from
Christchurch after my hospital
treatment there, I came back just before Christmas and
self-admitted myself to the mental
health ward at the hospital here. Basically just ensured that I was
safe so I didn’t have to have my
family worry about it. My dad wanted me to
go back and live with him. And that’s what I was going to do,
just cos I thought that’s what
I had to do. And then I realised if I was
to do that there, I wouldn’t
have a job any more. I wouldn’t have any normality.
Like, nothing would have been… the same. Everything would have
changed because of my disability. Whereas I wanted things to feel…
like home and like normal. It took a while, but I knew
that I had to do something to keep me active in order to keep
my mental health in a better state. Because if I didn’t work, I would’ve
just been sitting in my room,
dwelling the whole time, um, and just ruminating things
in my head and thinking
of the worst situation. Whereas work kind of gave me the
opportunity to get out of the house and go do something active
and challenge me a bit more. We were same as probably
most people, that you think,
oh, people in wheelchairs, not being able to walk
is the biggest hurdle. But we quickly found that not being
able to walk is such a minor thing.
Like, it’s the other stuff — it’s learning how to do your
day care, you know, your toilets
and that sort of stuff — is more of a disability
than actually walking. Quickly realised his, uh,
mental recovery or having a major,
you know, disability, as well as the mental recovery
that’s necessary from suicide, and you sort of— in this case,
he had them both at once. Um, (SNIFFLES)
but then we sort of… We thought that, um, having… having a work distraction
or something to do is gonna be good
for him and that, you know, especially
that first 12 months. We had to instigate… a lot of rules and boundaries that perhaps we’d
never had to previously. And now the dynamic of our entire
relationship, especially for that
first year, changed… to full-time parents of, um,… I say a child, even though he was
18, that was no longer able to take—
not take care of themselves. When I say that, people think around
the wheelchair and the paraplegia, but was not mentally able
to take care of themselves
or keep themselves safe. It’s been an opportunity, I think,
for Ian to learn more around the
emotional side of things as well, um, and to… to a certain extent,
rather than just wait for what feels
like the perfect opportunity to go and connect with someone,
to create that opportunity —
which is perhaps— You know, I think perhaps we’re
all guilty of that — that we wait
for the perfect time instead of just creating it. Lily. Jack’s real good at figuring out
how shit works, in terms of, um… You know, like, if we’ve got
a problem like the— say that,
for instance. This here, you’ve gotta do things
in a certain order to get this off
the float. And then to put the float back
together, like, the thing that
floats, on back together, you’ll have to do that
a certain way around as well. He’s good at figuring that
sort of shit out, and I’m not. So it’s easier just to get him
to go out there and tell me. Oh, if he says that, then
it must be true. (CHUCKLES) There’s plenty of stuff I say
that’s not true, remember?
(LAUGHS) Yeah, but I mean, in terms of
figuring shit out, you’re better
at it than I am. Yeah. When you go through something
like this, you always ask yourself
questions about, you know, ‘What could I have
done differently?’
Or, ‘Should I have known? ‘Should I have been able
to stop it?’ And, you know, ‘Would it have been the right
thing to do to stop it?’ And I mean, at the time, it’s
a terrible thing to go through,
and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but it’s also, um, part of
the process to get to a point
where you can just say, ‘No,’ you know, ‘the only person
that made that decision was Jack.’ I think the point was
when I realised I could
either blame myself forever, that I’m in this situation now
and I chose this life, or I could be, like—
accept that and be like, ‘You’ve made a mistake,
and it’s time to move on.’ * (REFLECTIVE GUITAR MUSIC) To start with, I really worried
about what people thought of me, and it really was because
I wasn’t happy in myself. After I kind of accepted that idea,
I just— I, kinda, just go out, and if people wanna stare, they
can stare, but I don’t really take
that on at all any more, and I don’t really let anyone judge
me in a way that will affect me. (LAID-BACK MUSIC) I understand that it’s… that
I’m different, but I don’t think
‘disabled’ is the right word for it. Things just take longer sometimes,
or things are a bit harder. But if you surround yourself
by the right people, nothing’s
a problem, as such. For men, it’s kind of you’ve got
that reputation of being strong and kind of being there for anyone. But also, you have to be able
to look after yourself. And now I look at somebody,
and I think that they’re stronger if they’re able to accept something
like that or able to ask for help. It’s not a weakness at all. (BRIGHT MUSIC) Now, especially with LeAnne and Ian
and my dad, I think we’re a lot more
open about how we’re feeling, and we’ve kind of learnt
to talk about our feelings
definitely a lot more. My dad came down to Christchurch
and stayed there for the first
six weeks. It was a weird feeling. I hadn’t really seen my dad show
too much emotion or affection,
as such, in his life. And then for him to be…
sad and upset like that was really hard. That kind of created a bond,
as such, and something for us
to work from, yeah. We’ve had a little bit of a talk,
and I think, yeah, he kind of blames
himself for not doing enough, is what he says — he didn’t
do enough when I was younger — and he blames himself for that. Um, after that month in Burwood, that… that night, some of them are hard to look at. I think October 2014
was probably the hardest month
of my life as a parent. We’ve talked about— about the crash
and— and the… the outcome of it and the reasons for it. It’s either gonna wreck your life,
or it’s gonna make something better. And I think mindset is a big thing. You know, Jack has his ups and
downs, but he’s had some highs, you know, with Halberg Sports and wheelchair basketball
and cycling and what have you. And I hope he gets back
into that sort of thing. It’s hard to talk about that,
I think, if we do it, it might make it easier for someone
else, and that’s why I’m here. That, and to support him, obviously. That’s the spine. What goes through your mind
as a parent is, um, you know… That will never leave me —
driving the Burwood every day and sitting in the car park
for however long it took to compose myself to make sure
that the face Jack got to see was of his loving dad who was there
to help him through that day. OK. (SPEAKS INDISTINCTLY) Seeing some of the images is pretty
hard, um, especially the X-rays. It’s… Kind of opens my eyes
a lot to it as well, eh. So that’s why I say if we can
share the story and make one person
stop and think, then that might be a good time to
stop and think and phone— phone your
dad and say, ‘Dad, I need help.’ Eh?
Definitely. And he did. He text me. And I read his text and I tried
phoning him four times. And then I got the bystander that
pulled him out on the phone. Um… Eh? So thanks to him. I didn’t realise… that he was
on the phone to a bystander. Um, so that’s… that’s quite hard
for me to hear. And just thinking of
how hard that would have been. So, yeah, that’s… quite hard, to be honest. (POIGNANT MUSIC) Uh, just the effect that
it’s had on my family, um… it’s definitely not what I wanted. It’s hard to know that
I’ve hurt them like that. Um… They all mean so much to me, and… it sucks to know that I have
just put them in that position. Um… Just… It is hard. He’s got a lot of people
that love him, though, eh — who Jack really is. (POIGNANT MUSIC CONTINUES) (FAINT LAUGHTER, CHATTER) Ooh!
Take it that way a bit, bro. I think it was definitely
a big change to my mental health, just getting out of the house and
doing something social with people. And it’s kind of a good excuse
to get me out of bed. Cos it was something I really
enjoyed and something that I was
passionate about. So to meet other people that were
on the same boat, it was real cool.
Definitely helped a lot. Hard-out athlete
on his bikes and shit, and now he’s, um… Yeah, didn’t
faze him at all. He’s sweet as. Yeah. He used to be
a skinny little runt, though. Now he’s like— Obviously
he’s got decent arms and that. Obviously you’ve gotta pull yourself
around. Shit’s pretty hard out. You need to actually
see him doing it. I wouldn’t go and drag myself out
and, you know, climb in here and do
all that. It’d be a mission. But if you have to, you have to.
And he has to! So he’s just got used to it.
And he makes it look like it’s easy as it is for us for walking, opening
the door, you know, whatever. (INDISTINCT CHATTER, CHIPS CLICK) (BRIGHT MUSIC) I look back at myself a couple of
years ago — two, three years ago —
and I compared to know, when I— took me a while to kind of
understand that I was in that place. A self-love kind of thing.
You’ve kind of got to accept that
and kind of move on. Basically, I’m gonna strive
for the best — the best possible — and try and make the most of
every opportunity that I have. Probably the biggest thing
is that it’s OK not to be OK, um, and that there… is an option
out there for you, and it’s not
gonna get hammered to you, and it’s not gonna be easy.
But if you ask for help,
the help will be there. And, yeah, it’s not
gonna change overnight, but if you work towards it and see
the end goal, you’ll get there. Captions by Glenna Casalme Captions were made with
the support of NZ On Air.
Copyright Able 2019 (BRIGHT MUSIC) Attitude was made with funding
from New Zealand On Air.


  1. JLynn Meeks Author

    Jack, you are ao AMAZING!! Im so glad you are realizing that too!! You have so much to offer this world! Hey your real a CUTEY too!! TAke care & Thank you for sharing your story with us!!! BLessings💜💜

  2. Tricia Smith Author

    Jack you are a wonderful young man! I think it’s awesome of you to share your story! Im so glad you can share that having mental health issues and seeking help is not weak. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to ask for help. My younger daughter has struggled with mental health issues her entire life. I took her to a dr and she had therapists and group sessions and medication for about 8 years. She’s 15 now and has been med free for about 3 years. She learned to talk about her feelings and ask for help and time for herself when needed. And if she ever needs medication to help stabilize the chemical imbalance in her brain we will do it. Your brain is an organ like any other and sometimes it needs help. And that’s ok! Thank you for sharing your story. I know it will touch so many people. I hope you continue to realize how special you are, just for being you! 💖

  3. Vicki M Author

    Jack, what an amazing, determined, beautiful man you are!!Congratulations on living your life! Thankyou for living the best life for you!! I wish you had a youtube channel so we could all follow you! to admire that beautiful farm land you work (wink wink). Kia Kaha ataahua Tane XOXO (From a ChCh kiwi girl living on the gold coast)

  4. Amanda Bruce Author

    Jack you have shown HOPE in this video.Jesus said the old has gone,the new is in his hands,and you are showing that.I have lupus&degenerative osteoarthritis. I am in bed a lot.i am 62.i would love a penpal.this is my daughter's email,but you could respond here&I will see if you would like that.My son attempted suicide twice&self harm also.Finally on right medication&wanted to change.Thank God he did,but brain can just be wired wrong&if something is bothering him he freely will talk to me about it now.he is high functioning autistic&schitzophrenic&bipolar2. He has tourettes&rheumatoid arthritis. He is 39.So you bring hope to us.Take Care of yourself.Beth🐂🐏🐖🐴🐺🐐🦃🌻🦋

  5. Debbie J Author

    Thanks for sharing your story! Disability is something that many more people struggle with on a daily basis, because so many of us do not work on our mental/emotional selves. Disability can be physical, no doubt! I have dealt with my own physical and mental issues for many years, also my kids physical/mental issues. Thanks for truly sharing, it’s so refreshing to see. You and your love ones have dealt with so much in your young life. You’re an inspiration Jack!! Nice ink btw! Keep on keeping on from TX USA ☯️✌️🌻

  6. Emmett Battle Author

    this man is living my dream. i wanted to be a self sustained farmer but didnt think i could because im a wheelchair user. this was a great video.

  7. Joanie Newcomb Author

    Jack you are brave and courageous to share your story. About your personal struggle with depression and the devastating consequences of the drastic choice you made. You are a fine young man. I am so glad you survived Jack. It's ok not to be okay. Much Thanks💕God Bless You So Much Jack💖

  8. Nyakarima King Author

    Amazing video. I like the fact he chooses not to deal with stares. I have a condition that draws stares and makes me anxious around people. I also loved how he recognised how he hurt his family by doing what he did. Jack you are also super hot.😁🔥

  9. Linda Richardson-heka Author

    This story was something I needed to see. Keep being strong you are amazing, what you have achieved you are inspiring. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I think the rules you had set is something that a lot of households should have in their houses. I will try to add those rules to my days and see if it changes anything thanks again

  10. shane lea Author

    Good on you.. you be blessed, and still alive…. keep up your farming… you have a lovely family friend's out there, to help and support, and many others…. my heart's goes out to people with a disability…( jack….i prayed for you and your family,many others

  11. Jess Wright Author

    Jake you amazing young man. I was 14 years old when became in a wheelchair, people ask me how do I saying how do u keep positive I say I am still human I still get my ups and downs. I staying busy and do have times of tears but best to so not holding it in

  12. Joanne Wilson Author

    Inspirational mate. Stay strong, your such a good looking fella and your story is going to help someone through tough times. Thankyou

  13. Patricia Kelly Author

    It’s so sad that you felt to talk about problems was a weakness. It’s a strength to talk to some one . To take your life is never the answer. Samaritans are on line to listen and can help you move in the right direction. There is nothing in the world worth taking your own life. I’m glad you made it and are living a good life. X

  14. Chris Trinder Author

    Unmentioned but was there a problem initially for Jack at home with his stepmum principally and his dad secondly because of that. Just wondered because she wasn’t part of this documentary.

  15. ☀️ Sunny Days ☀️ Author

    Wow what an amazing film! I’m also sci and been in a chair for 17 years. This guy shows that NOTHING is impossible! ❤️

  16. Tina Collins Author

    I’m the same as you love L5S1 and L6S1 I’m in a wheel chair to I broke the bottom on my spine when I was 24 I can understand your in a bubble ,I feel so lost ,but with my back I can’t hold my urine and my bowels I struggle with this so much , be strong love ,you are a nice looking man

  17. Super Moosie Author

    Maybe it’s just late, but I foudnd it hard to follow the timeline on this one. Was he 13 when he was injured, driving? Or 18? He mentioned 13. Where did the step parents come from? Are they the ones he’s working for? Were they the neighbours? And why? I’m just confused.


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