By: Ariel Johnson

On the morning of December 13th, 2007 the weather was horrible. It was sleeting, hailing, and snowing. I was driving back to school when I swerved into the oncoming lane and hit a van and then collided into a tree. An off-duty EMT professional saved my life because the seatbelt was choking me, I was rushed to the ICU trauma unit, suffered a subdermal hematoma. I was intubated and put on life support. A craniectomy was performed on my right side and brain stents were put in to relieve the pressure and help with the internal bleeding. I was in a coma for a month and half. I learned how to walk, talk, and relearn everything all over again. I then had another procedure done called a cranioplasty. Surgeons put an acrylic plate in. I now give back to the community spreading awareness. Traumatic brain injury survivors are sometimes without a voice because of the level of cognitive ability that they no longer have. What they were once able to do alone is now being done with a caregiver, or someone there to guide them to live out their life. Fatigue, irritability, aphasia, outbursts, along with aggressive behavior, I suffered. All of them are pretty much expected when one is going through recovery. To be able to understand the mind of a TBI survivor is an ongoing mystery movie. One can only adapt and accept their new life. To become the best version of myself took years and years of recovery. The only way I was able to forgo any bad experience was having a positive mindset. Constantly reassuring myself that the baby steps that I was taking will eventually form into habits then lead to the life I have now. I have everything I want in my life through the power of perseverance when I thought I’d forever stay in a pit of overeating, overindulging in situations that were terrible for me and smoking cigarettes. Fast forward seven years later, with wonderful health, a strong bond with my family, an amazing boyfriend and a promising career, I appreciate who I am. Never giving up, I go through the motions of life understanding that there will always be “beauty in the process”. My boyfriend keeps me levelheaded when I tend to get sucked back into the idea that having a traumatic brain injury is my whole life and when I start to play victim. I am not a victim; it is just a part of me. Now I choose to let survivors see and understand that you just got to keep on pushing and that you CAN do it.