Even though I can’t remember the accident, being at LA County hospital, or my rehabilitation at Ranchos Los Amigos, I remember what I was thinking during that time. I thought I was being tricked and this was a cruel game everyone was in on—even my parents. I thought I was experiencing something like the movie The Game –and I was Michael Douglas.

My parents remind me of the real events through stories they tell about that time.

Whenever I left my room I had to put on my, as my parents called it, “armor.”

In order to go to rehab, I had to wear my body brace, neck brace, and a helmet. My parents actually went out and bought me a helmet and put foam padding in it because the hospital helmet kept falling in my face.

I wanted to burn that helmet and didn’t know why I had to wear it, or my “armor.” To me, I was 100% and everyone else had to be playing a trick on me.

I didn’t want to go to rehab. It was miserable. People asked me questions constantly and, no matter how I answered, they acted like I didn’t know anything!

There were days I fought so much not wanting to wear my armor that I didn’t go to rehab.

Actor Matthew Fahey being fitted with "armor" in the family film The Favorite.

Obviously, my parents were upset by this. Since then, they have filled me in with the real details because all I remember is my own thoughts of everyone trying to trick me. I’m fascinated how the brain is so complex and how I remember my thoughts and dreams during my recovery at the hospital, but I can’t remember the six months before.

My dad tells me about a few times where he saw me realize that I wasn’t 100%.

Once, I caught my reflection in a mirror wearing my armor and I, apparently, stared into the mirror, thinking.

I finally asked him while looking at myself, “Dad, am I retarded?”

He explained to me I wasn’t retarded, but in a car accident and have to go through rehab. Wow. That must have been a really difficult moment for my dad.

It’s hard not to get emotional when I realize the gravity of what other people dealt with during that time. The therapists were  asking me all those questions to test my cognitive ability and it wasn’t until I saw myself in that hospital equipment that I even realized something was wrong with me—and, the only reasoning I could come up with was that I must have been mentally broken.

Wow.

I am so grateful to God for healing me and bringing me back to reality so I could fully experience this beautiful world He has created.

I will never not appreciate it.

The Favorite, a family film based on true events, is set to open in theaters nationwide September 2019