When you were little I’m sure you and your friends would discuss which superpowers you would want. Would you want to fly, have X-Ray vision, super strength, invisibility, etc.. I always wanted to either fly or be invisible. It really is true what they say about be careful what you wish for because you just might get your wish. I think it’s nice to think about being invisible but it’s completely different to actually be invisible to the ones you love or worse have an invisible injury. My severe traumatic brain injury and PTSD are invisible to the naked eye which is a blessing and a curse. I’m beyond grateful that I was able to recover to looking “normal” to others but it is a curse because at times it feels I have to prove that I do struggle daily and I did sustain a life altering injury.
Sometimes it is easier for family and friends to act as if everything is normal than to educate themselves on what life is like for me now with the injuries they can’t see, the unknown is scary and only those who really love and care for you will make the effort to understand your “new” normal. Trust me my injury is real, this isn’t something I made up. Only by the grace of God am I here today. If I wouldn’t have kept my bike helmet on to drive to the lake then my head would have been completely smashed. Even with my helmet on I almost died five times and my brain suffered severe damage. I now have a severe traumatic brain injury and diffuse axonal injury. From the few seconds I remember the day of my wreck and my memories from ICU, Trauma unit, almost dying, and everything that happened after the wreck I have severe PTSD. With my brain injury and PTSD I notice every little sound, movement and mood change. I am very sensitive to sensory issues as well. I am photophobic, which is sensitivity to light. I have a hard time with sounds and movement. My eyes are constantly surveying any room I am in and following every movement. A person moves my eyes involuntarily go straight to that person and see if it is a threat. I have to always have my back to a wall and face or be able to see the exit of any restaurant. In the movie theater I have to sit at the top so no one is behind me and I can see if anything bad was to happen. Certain sounds don’t have as much of an effect on me but then there are others that will take me right back to the day of the wreck or to the days in my coma.
These are all injuries that you can’t see but trust me if you could see the wounds on my heart and brain, I would be unrecognizable to the ones who know me.
When I think back over the past four years, I remember the pain, struggle and heartache. I remember feeling defeated, unlovable and worthless but today when I look in the mirror I finally see Kaylen. I see a woman who learned to wear her heartbreak and tragedies as armor. I am extremely proud of the woman who stares back at me in the mirror because I know what it took for her to put herself back together piece by piece. I see my inner strength, lessons learned, perseverance and the seed within me growing. I can now see a future for myself and for the first time I’m not terrified. Don’t get me wrong I’m still scared because it is a lot to comprehend and it overwhelms me but I have a future and I know my purpose.
Embracing the struggle:
If you are struggling with anything right now just remember most of the people in your life don’t realize the strength and courage it takes for you to get out of bed every morning, face the day and to continue whatever war you are fighting. Be proud of yourself because you are still here and you are still continuing your fight. Embrace your struggle and let it make you stronger. You were given this life because you are strong enough to live it. Repeat after me.. I am stronger than this challenge and I am tougher than whatever is trying to defeat me. This war isn’t over until I win. This too shall pass.