Tabitha Graham

In September 2012, we were warming up at a game, when this player from the other team started to mean mug me. Well, I thought nothing of it and kept warming up with my teammates. Then when the team captains, coaches, and referees were all talking, they let us begin to serve back and forth. I reached for a ball and as I was turning to face the court, BAM! The mean mugger had purposely served her ball straight at my face when I wasn't expecting it. I don't remember a lot, but I do remember as so as it connected with my face I felt my brain exploding and splitting in half. Apparently I had also almost fallen but a teammate helped me up before I could fall. After that, I can't remember a thing. Because I can't remember the game that I had supposedly played, I was legally unconscious for an hour. Scary.

For about 2 months, I had to struggle with school, because I was forced to start working again, no one believed me really, and the trainers wouldn't send me to a neurologist.

It was early November, when I finally saw a neurologist and got medically excuse from school. Being pulled out of school was good and bad. Good because I could actually rest my head, and not leave early crying my eyes out. But bad because my friends drifted away from me which is understandable; I mean I wasn't there. What had caused me to finally get out of school was when I had leaned my head back, and this unbearable pain shot through my neck to all over my head, making me cry for hours. The neurologist concluded I had occipital nerve damage, sprained my neck, strained a muscle on my neck, and had a traumatic brain injury.

December was when my depression started and carried out till maybe April. It was January when I had hit rock bottom. I had thrown all my volleyball stuff in the attic, and sat in my closet crying until my mom checked on me. We had argued and I had even admitted that I had stopped believing in my faith, because if He loved me He wouldn't have done this. And that's when she decided to send me to a physiologist. My physiologist is probably one of the biggest parts in my recovery. We didn't get along too well, more like I didn't want to see him at all, until I had bursted into tears crying about how I was a failure and he didn't argue or yell. He just comforted me, and told me to just forget the old me and start a new Tabitha. That actually helped a lot. Comparing yourself to how you were, doesn't help who you are now. You're different just accept it! After that I was slowly dragging myself out of the dark hole I had dug.

May was when I attempted to go back to school, because all the doctors thought it'd be good for me, and that I was better, and that I should just try because they can't fix Post Concussion Syndrome. So I went, against my will, and went to school. I lasted about thirty minutes of awkwardly sitting in the class room scared out of my mind, until I had to leave because I was having an anxiety attack. They didn't worry about it too much, they were actually proud that I lasted as long as I did considering I was out of school for six months. But that weekend I had three more anxiety attacks, so they put me on zoloft at the minimum dose and slowly up-ed it when needed.

June and July were life changing months, I had finally accepted that I had Post Concussion Syndrome, that I wasn't going to be playing volleyball anymore, that I was a different person, that this had happened for a reason, and that I need to forgive the girl who did this to me. Honestly, I think after I forgave the person who had done this to me, was when I started to progress faster. It felt like nothing was really pulling me back to the injury or the person I was before and that I could just move on. My faith had gotten stronger, and I had even started going to drivers ed with a few close friends. Going to drivers ed was a big deal. And I actually made it through and can drive now! I made new friends, and actually learned in a class room setting. It was really successful!

Now it's August and I truly know why this had happened to me. If God hadn't stripped me away from volleyball, then I wouldn't have this amazing outlook on life or the opportunity to help others like I do now! I wouldn't have the close friendships and support groups that I have now. I wouldn't be as strong of a person as I am now. I wouldn't have this new appreciation for the little things. I wouldn't have this wonderful relationship with God. But most importantly I wouldn't have been able to help others going through this.

Being alone is probably the biggest factor in this; whether it's physically, mentally, or emotionally. Being alone sucks. Support is what really helped get me through. My family supported me throughout all this even though they didn't quite understand it. One friend, I hadn't talked to her in forever, and she just out of the blue had called me and said that she heard that this had happened, and even though she doesn't really know what to do, she'll always be there to support me. That meant the world to me. Not even my bestfriend supported me like that. And when the school supports you and your situation it's definitely less stressful on everyone. But one thing that helped me when I thought there was no one, was that even when no one was around to care, God was up there watching me and silently helping. And that made me more grateful for support than ever.

Now, all I want to do is to be able to be there for people who are going through this, and let them know that I know what they're coming from, that they will get better with time, and that someone does care. I want to be their personal support cheerleader! I just want to be able to impact and inspire others in way I haven't been able to do until now.

Thanks again for becoming interested in my story and wanting to share it! It's much appreciated! 

Tabitha Graham (@brainyblondegal)