Imagine if you had to do everything with one arm…
Drive the car.
That’s life for 32-year-old Jessica Smith who was born without her left hand and forearm in a case that still baffles doctors.
Jessica joined the I Don’t Know How She Does It podcast this week, and we didn’t hold back in asking her everything we have ever wanted to know about life with one arm.
“There’s been no explanation and I suppose for my Mum and Dad, that’s been difficult.
To have no answers … we really, really, really don’t know and for me as a young child trying to make sense of why I look different, why I was missing my arm …
“Certainly those unanswered questions led to a lot of mental anguish and mental health issues that developed throughout my teens of trying to find my identity”.
But rather than hold her back, Jessica only propelled. Literally. In the pool, she was beating all her classmates and soon she was at the Paralympics.
“I was at the first school swimming carnival when I was just ten and I won the 50 metres freestyle and I think I surprised not just myself, but everyone, because I won that race.
“That was the very first time where I thought ‘oh my goodness, I’m finally being recognised for something positive and being able to use my body rather than seeing my body and my differences and imperfections as a negative … in that moment I said to mum and dad, ‘this is what I want to do, I want to swim’.”
Jessica was selected to compete at the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games.
A career highlight. A life highlight.
But it wasn’t long after that, Jessica suffered from extreme eating disorders. Her challenges weren’t just physical, but mental.