October 29, 2015

MARY’S MUSINGS | Falling

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By MARY BURGETT

I have already mentioned in my previous blogs how uncomfortable I was around guys; parties were not things that I handled well. I drank to be more comfortable around not only guys, but also strangers. I lost my trust. I was afraid. I wasn’t dealing with what happened, I just kept pushing it farther away. I was never forced to drink, friends never pressured me, but I needed a security blanket. At other events, with just friends, I didn’t drink as much. I didn’t even realize I did this until my therapist pointed it out. I didn’t have any limits when I was trying to feel and be more comfortable. And that ultimately led me into a lot of trouble.

When I tried to commit suicide, I was drunk. If I wasn’t maybe I could have gotten through the flashbacks. But focusing on “What if” statements is not healthy and never helps. Three weeks after getting out of the hospital the first time, I was back in again.

I went out with some friends and drank too much at the parties we went to. I remember leaving an event and then nothing. The next thing I knew I was waking up in the ICU and being asked if I remembered my name. I didn’t. I didn’t recognize my parents or one of my sisters. I was terrified. Some of my memories came back to me later on my first day in the hospital, but I was still having difficulties. I was in the ICU for four days and a private room for two: six days. Six days that changed my life.

I was lucky I had my friends with me the night I fell. They couldn’t have prevented it and they couldn’t have foreseen it. I will be forever grateful that they were there watching out for me when I was knocked unconscious.

I had a moderate concussion and a brain bleed, and the combination of the two gave me a traumatic brain injury. I had two seizures in the hospital. After being released, I took a medical leave of absence from Cornell for the fall semester. Instead of class, my weeks were filled with physical and occupational therapy plus the frequent visits to my neurologists. I couldn’t walk for more than 10 minutes without getting a bad headache and vertigo. I became confused more often, especially when I tried to say certain words and my memory still had blanks.

I was also in weekly therapy sessions because I needed them. I will forever be grateful for the recommendation to my psychologist because she has helped me face my past, live in the present and look forward to my future. I’m not ashamed to be seeing a psychologist — it only benefits my health and after hitting rock bottom I needed to face my demons. Therapy is one of the best decisions you can make.

I deal with headaches everyday since my accident. Some days are awful. Some days are okay. It sucks to go through this and still have to go to many doctor’s appointments. Yes, I am only enrolled in 10 credits right now and am graduating a full year late, but I am lucky. I could have died twice last year. I am lucky because I am alive. I fell, but instead of continuing to fall I picked myself back up and prioritized my health and well being.

Sexual Assault, Suicide and a Traumatic Brain Injury. These are the events that changed my life. These are the events that changed my career focus. My first two years at Cornell, I was falling mentally and then at my third year I was falling physically. I am not falling anymore.

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