You are up to you

Innovating a New Self for a New Life After Disability. Experiences as a quadiplegic from Gullain-Barré Syndrome. Innovate a new self for a new life. Feel spiritually whole again after trauma and disability.


I want to share with you what I have learned.

This book is about not falling prey to a negative self-concept after trauma. It is about redefining how you see yourself.

My Story

Take your personal challenge and learn the valuable embedded lesson it may offer. I evolved as a person because I was made aware that I could be a better me after being stripped of my limited ideas of myself. I was given an opportunity to renew and rebrand myself – to live from a deeper and evolving image of who I am.

Come to grips with total vunerablility

The past, the present and the future — these are all things I had a lot of time to think about when I was in the hospital. It took me a few weeks until what was happening to me started to sink in. There was so much activity surrounding me in the hospital that I got caught up in being a patient, rather than being myself. I slowly started to understand that I was a quadriplegic.

Self preservation

Coming to terms with your disability means losing your innocence. It is a right of passage and an initiation into a new and higher level of awareness and sensitivity. While in the initiation process the moment-to-moment unfolding of events requires one to rely on one’s self, measure the situation carefully, get information and safely guide the self through obstacles as they present themselves.

Courage, patience and self-reliance

I needed to learn how to say “no” for my own welfare and to stop acting like I was OK. At that point I started to be more realistic about my time for visits. I visited with those who I knew, wanted to see, and only when I wanted to see them. It was empowering to be able to control, at last, my expenditure of energy.

Feel comfortable in your own skin

Early in my disability, I turned feeling sorry for myself into an art form. Being confined not only to a hospital bed, but to a body that had no response was a completely foreign experience. It was like double paralysis. And it was taking its toll on my mind as I tried to make some kind of sense out of my situation. I found myself trying out a multitude of personality coping styles and behaviors.

Positivity, re-branding and your new self

Your attitude is like the breath you choose to take. If you unconsciously take shallow breath, you will feel weak, but if you consciously breathe in full, nourishing breaths, you’ll feel instantly clear-headed and healthy. You can automatically dwell on the past and scorn fate, or you can mindfully gather up what you have left, claim your strength, and go forward with the belief that not only will you be OK, but you will prevail and perhaps even inspire others to see that one can have dignity in the face of a life-changing trial.

Sample pages from the book

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Author's video interview about Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), his book and how it may help.

Readers' Review

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You are up to you - A book by Ed Penniman

What does it take to go through physical trauma and have everything taken away from you and come back to be a better you than before with more joy in your life? Ed Penniman did this and tells you how with art, stories and unusual but powerful recommendations. Although aimed at people who have had physical trauma, this book can help anyone who has challenges and has to face dramatic change.


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About Ed

At age 42, Ed Penniman was stricken with Guillain-Barré Syndrome (often known as French Polio), which left him a quadriplegic. In the years since he has come back physically (still disabled but no longer a quadriplegic), psychologically and spiritually to become a new and more functional person than before the trauma.

Ed is a native of Santa Cruz, California, and graduated from Chouinard Art School of California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles. He has won design awards for corporate identity, packaging, and marketing communication design. He has been awarded a Gold Medal from American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) for book design.

A Message from the Author

I wrote this book because I want to share what I learned during my journey on the long path back to balance from loss, trauma and physical disability. It is for those who have been given a huge challenge, recognize an opportunity for personal growth and may be struggling now to move forward with courage. I am one of the lucky ones. I was able to prevail over my challenge. To me, this means that I have done the deep work that allows me to live happily and appreciate what I have with authentic gratitude. During my difficult recovery back from total paralysis, I’ve discovered answers to many of the questions I faced as I struggled through the trauma of disability and evolved into what, I hope, is a more integrated being.

- Ed Penniman

 Click here to hear the audio version of the intro.