SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury
Gabee Snarr Wilcox (survivor)
Donna O’Donnell Figurski
Brain Injury is NOT Discriminating!
It can happen to anyone, anytime, . . . and anywhere.
The Brain Trauma Foundation states that there are 5.3 million people in the United States living with some form of brain injury.
On “Faces of Brain Injury,” you will meet survivors living with brain injury. I hope that their stories will help you to understand the serious implications and complications of brain injury.
The stories on SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury are published with the permission of the survivor or designated caregiver.
If you would like your story to be published, please send a short account and two photos to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to publish your story and raise awareness for Brain Injury.
Gabee Snarr Wilcox (survivor)
When I was 16, I went through a windshield. Before that, I was the lead in every musical and captain of the dance team. My whole life changed in an instant. I ripped my liver in half; broke my leg, nose, ribs, and arm; suffered some minor flesh wounds; etc. But, nothing could compare to or prepare me for the TBI (traumatic brain injury) I also suffered.
I woke up a different person. My personality was completely different than the one I had before. I was having rage fits for no reason. The next two years would come with some new-found crippling anxiety and depression. I had no balance, and my memory was awful. (Still kinda is … Do not trust me with your keys, people!) I was confined to a wheelchair for about a year. I felt nothing but hopeless.
It seemed like I had lost everybody. The people who did stick around, I treated terribly. I was wallowing in my own self-pity … and I wanted to die. I felt like I would never live up to the person I had been. I didn’t think I would ever be able to go to college or find love. I thought suicide was the best solution. I planned my death, and I looked forward to it every day.
Then one day, I saw a dear friend of mine, who also had a TBI. Later, news broke that she had killed herself. My world changed that day. I started living for Hannah. I saw the potential she had, and I wanted to show her that I wasn’t going to let a stupid TBI take both of us down.
I started really trying at physical therapy. Instead of hating myself for my memory, my anxiety, my insomnia, and my depression, I learned to laugh at it. I stopped hating people because they didn’t understand, and I realized they were lucky they didn’t. I went to college, and I failed. So, I tried again, and I failed. I tried again, and I found joy and love in working hard in school. I passed a whole year. I proved every doctor, friend, and family-member wrong – they said I was too damaged. But, I did it!
I took the jump and married the love of my life. I stopped putting my TBI first and started putting my happiness first. Today, I still have problems – headaches every day, anxiety, depression, insomnia, exhaustion … you name it! But, I push through and find myself every day.
It’s been a hard five years, but I wouldn’t change them. I’ve learned to be glad this happened to me – it’s made me stronger than I ever thought I could be. I commend everyone going through this – it’s hard! But, you can do anything. I truly believe that.
(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)
(Photos compliments of contributor.)
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