Almost 16 years ago, Madeleine West was hit by a bus on Sydney’s Oxford Street.
West was thrown several feet into the air. Two sex workers came across her broken, bleeding body and cradled her while they called the emergency services.
The next day West woke up battered and bruised and barely recognisable, and now she’s written about the life-changing experience for News.com.au.
LISTEN: Australian actress Madeleine West (Dee Bliss) shares her top tips to prioritise in life. Post continues after audio…
“In that moment, I wished for sleep. More specifically, I wished for the kind of sleep one does not wake from. A swift and painless fall to the concrete several floors below. One sleeping tablet too many. One more blunt head trauma to properly finish me off,” she writes.
West explains the first time she looked in the mirror after the accident all she could think about was her career. She was worried no one would hire her looking the way she did, and that the career she had worked so damn hard for was over.
Then she had a little epiphany.
She thought about why she had become an actor in the first place and realised she was placing far too much value on her looks.
“In that moment I made a mistake. It is a common one, a mistake made by multitudes every day and one young women are sadly particularly prone to. In that moment I believed the way I looked defined who I was. I truly thought my appearance was the most important thing about me.”
In the article she explains she became an actor in the first place to tell people’s stories and to “let others vicariously live through me and walk in another’s shoes, stepping out of their own lives for just a moment”, not to look glamorous on the front page of a magazine.
West realised that her career was not over – even if she couldn’t act, she could “write, direct, get behind the camera”.
That moment changed West’s life forever.
“In a sense, the bus left me not just with a bundle of scars, a bit of a stutter and a dodgy eyebrow, but with many, many gifts,” she writes.
LISTEN: Australian actress and mother-of-six Madeleine West gives Holly Wainwright a glimpse into her very busy life. Post continues after audio…
The mum-of-six says the accident left her with a clear vision of what she wants out of life, a willingness to forgive others, and an eagerness to accept her own faults.
She also learnt that no one should ever be forced to give up their own dreams.
“No matter who we are, where we come from or how we look, our dreams are what sustain us. Our ambitions get us out of bed in the morning, and if you have the courage, the determination, the drive, and the willingness to work hard to transform the dream into reality, then nothing can stop you … not even a bus.
“The glass ceiling is yours for the breaking, and at the end of the day, the most attractive quality you can possess is belief in yourself.”
Since the accident, West has gone onto act in some of our most-loved Australian TV shows including Satisfaction, Underbelly, House Husbands and The Wrong Girl. She’s also a mum of six.