When it comes to disabilities, some people can become afraid of the challenges that come along with having one. While a disability doesn’t define who they are, it can be difficult to do the everyday things that others do such as walk, talk, or comprehend. From Helen Keller who was blind and deaf, to Christy Brown who had cerebral palsy, to even me who has a traumatic brain injury. The most amazing people we look up to have gone through hardships such as having disabilities, therefore throughout this article, I will be discussing the challenges that I’ve gone through, but that you can have a disability and can still be successful. It is learning that no accomplishment is small. It is appreciating the moments of waking up and being able to do what others did not get a second chance to do. It is loving who you are with a disability. My disability doesn’t define me, but it does make me stronger. I am strong because of what has happened to me, and I will forever be grateful for that.
According to the Centers for Disease and Prevention, around 2.8 million people in the U.S. have received the diagnosis of a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). A TBI is an injury that occurs to the brain after bumping your head, having a jolt to the head, or a blow to the head. For me, my TBI came from a blow to the head. I say blow to the head because I sustained my injury from a car accident, where I was rear-ended twice in a matter of seconds apart from each other, which caused my head to hit the headrest each time I was hit. Throughout the journey of trying to figure out why I didn’t feel like myself two years after the accident and recognizing things I never had issues with before such as comprehension, being able to visibly read, and being able to remember pretty much anything. I was lost, confused, and quite frankly depressed and anxious when I was diagnosed. I did not know what this meant for me and my future. I have received news over time from my doctor that is mentally and emotionally hard for any 18 year old to hear. In reports, it had said neurodegenerative dementia would be something I more than likely will have to deal with at some point of my life. While it took some time for me to get back on my feet, here I am today writing this article telling my story to let anyone know, those with a disability, those going through heartbreak, or those who feel burnt out that I didn’t get to where I am today because it was easy. I got where I am today because it was hard and challenging, and you can get to wherever you want to no matter the challenge.
For me, being diagnosed with a disability was a hard pill to swallow. I have had to alter the way I learn, the way I study, the way I live my life. My anxiety has increased, I do go through days of depression, but when I am sitting in bed feeling out of sorts, I try to focus on why I want to do what I want to do. I want to be a lawyer and while after my diagnosis I felt as though that dream would never be reached, I reminded myself that I was the only one holding myself back from making that dream a reality. I had the support system that watched me go through all of this, but they never gave up on me. Therefore, I remind myself every time I do an assignment why I want to be a lawyer and fight for my hope to become a reality. A quote I love to live by is “Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will” - Anonymous. This hits home for me because I am the one who doubts myself, I am the one who tells myself it won’t happen. Yet, I am here and doing it. I am graduating with my Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice with two Pre-Law Certificates in 3 years at Florida International University. Through the adversities that I have faced, I did it graduating as Cum Laude of the Spring 2022 class. Even though I had to work ten times harder than I would have if I didn’t have this disability, I wouldn’t take it back because I am stronger now due to the things that have happened to me. It is difficult at first because you have no idea what this diagnosis means or the struggles that it comes with. You may feel sad, lonely, and like no one knows what you are going through. To the person reading this, just know that you are not alone even though it may feel like it. I know you are strong, I know you are capable, and I know you got this. Nothing is impossible, but it is how you take on a challenge that will get you to where you want to be. Life will not stop for you because you are going through something, it will keep moving and when you focus on all the bad things happening you can miss out on so much of enjoying your life. But I want you to remember and reiterate this to yourself, like I have… YOU GOT THIS! YOU CAN DO IT! YOU WILL DO IT! YOU CAN DO ANYTHING! Remember who you are - don’t forget it!