Growing older has never been a huge fear of mine. In fact since I turned 39 this year I enrolled in college again to pursue more of my natural healing, brain health passion with massage therapy. Before enrolling into this program you could say I have been a fitness connoisseur for the past 20 years and a reflexologist for the past 2 years. But understanding the mind has been a big part of my life most of my life after suffering a traumatic brain injury as a child.
My findings on the mind over the years are nothing short of amazing. And most of my findings have been through experiences from my brain injury. These experiences have lead me on a quest, to search and search for brain information, brain health, mental health, most of all mind control…
Growing up after my brain injury I always felt a sense of paranoia, or rather severe anxiety and even bouts of depression. Honestly I don’t know how my family and some of my friends even put up with me. But I never understood exactly what this was. I had no clue the feeling I was feeling was abnormal, I thought this was all normal. I clearly remember moments as a teenager feeling as if I couldn’t sleep at night because of these feelings. But I never addressed this with anyone at that time. My family has never been one to open up freely and listen so I always chalked it up as Stephanie you’ll get over this…So I carried on.
The years rocked on and on… I always stuffed those horrible anxious moments down when they would rise to the surface, with my usual mantra Stephanie you’ll get over this. I was very successful in doing this strategy until April 15, 2013 came along…. And I speak on this day a lot today. Only because this day I do believe changed the whole chemistry of my brain. It is a day which I will never forget but it is also a day the whole entire world will never forget….
There I was, in Boston Massachusetts. The day of The Boston Marathon and I was at mile 25 of the finish line, in The Prudential Mall having pizza with some people. When all of a sudden we hear a loud sound coming from outside the mall which sounded as if two cars had completely collided into one another. Everyone looked around at each other in disbelief, then 10 seconds later we all heard an even louder sound coming from outside and everyone began to run and stampede the mall…. I recall jumping over a table to get out of that place…. But I don’t remember seeing any blood or death but I do recall seeing so much trauma, chaos, and police, army and people screaming everywhere…. To this day it is hard to remember all this…
Something in my mind happened this day…. Experiencing all this chaos in my mind took me back, and when I say took me back I honestly mean it took me back to places I avoided and never wanted to see again… In fact, I remember ever so clearly flying back to Georgia the next day and hardly sleeping for weeks, and experiencing some of the worst fatigue I have ever felt in my life. I remember when I would sleep I would have nightmares. Nightmares of seeing myself in the wheelchair I sat in as a child, I even remember a dream so clear that scared me so much I had suicidal thoughts… Walking into a room and people sitting around a bed I looked into the bed and it was a child with tubes all in her chest and in what looked to be her face and throat… I glanced around that room and it was all my own family then I swear I can recall so vividly looking into that bed and seeing it was me laying there! My eyes then opened in so many ways!
After that image in that dream that night I picked all that fatigue up off that couch and began dragging it down the road running to escape. I ran and ran so much. When I didn’t have sleep, I would run, and when I would actually sleep I did it… It was a refuge for me, it helped me feel better and helped me escape all the drama my mind was feeling. And I say through all of this I have some pride in the fact I held it together the way I did, without medication and with pure strength and love. But I do have some regret that I didn’t ever open up to many on what I was going through at this time.
Another what I call Defining moment in my mind exploration is a day after the days I spoke of above. After I began running I started feeling better and as most of us do I jumped back into my world. I put all of what I had dealt with behind me and figured this was what I was supposed to do and everything was normal again so I carried on. I signed a contract with a tennis wear company to model their tennis wear in Atlanta Georgia. And I will admit, I went into this situation with an ego over a mile wide, but I can also admit wholeheartedly that I came out of this situation with new eyes…
The day of the shoot, the people who owned this company were taking the photos. The man gets a phone call and says to me distressed like I have to go get my son, my wife is having trouble with him. He didn’t explain anything to me and I didn’t ask. He then said, You go up to Starbucks and I will swing by and pick you up. I didn’t argue I headed up the road, and about twenty to thirty minutes later he pulled up to get me. I bee bopped out that door and to get into his car and I flipped around in the seat and had a moment that has changed my life and mind since that day… I flipped around in that car and saw an eight year old brain injured boy, sitting in a car seat. He had his head hanging down, with spit running out of his mouth uncontrollably. I stared at this child in disbelief for a few minutes, I honestly could not believe what life was presenting me with. The dad was panicking talking up front and I was paying not much mind, all I could think to myself was that this was such a moment of grace for me…. I turned around and touched the dads hand and comforted him and spoke softly. I told him everything was ok, I let him know that I knew this situation way more than he knew. Then I went on to tell him looking at his son in that moment was looking at a vision I have held in my mind of myself so tight for 20 years when I came out of a coma and realized who I was, from a brain injury of my own. He smiled and said thank you for understanding… We were both in tears at this point.
After the day of modeling that tennis wear my life or mind has never been the same. And whenever my mind wonders and becomes unaware life presents me with another situation to remind me of what is truly important, and I understand now what it is saying.
Throughout my mind searching quest I have come to realize that coming to terms with who you are is the greatest and most successful gift you can ever give yourself, mentally. I also realize it is an extremely hard quest for anyone to take…. And the sad thing about this is most of the world live their lives the way I did for so long. Pushing emotions down and covering them up and never looking back…. Not understanding the surrender to something much bigger than our individual selves. We somehow never understand when life smacks us in our face and makes us admit our truths over and over again.
But we all charter our own paths, and life leads us and it is our choice to listen and to hear… This is something I know of complete truth….