All In My Head

In her personal project, In My Head, WKU senior Lydia Schweickart, of Louisville, Ky., reflects on her experience recovering from a traumatic brain injury and how it affected her mental wellbeing, the people she loves, and the path of self-discovery that it provoked.



In March of last year, I was in a car wreck and suffered a severe Traumatic Brain Injury. I received medical attention for 10 weeks: 1 week in the ICU of Skyline Medical Center, 2 weeks at Frazier Rehabilitation Institute, and 7 Weeks attending Frazier Outpatient Therapy. After the wreck I found myself in the hospital, not knowing why, lost and confused. The recovery process involved having to relearn everything that I knew before the wreck; Walking, Eating, Writing, Fine Motor Skills, Communication, Memory, etc. Having a sense of identity is an essential part of the human experience, and the car wreck stripped me of that identity.

Although my brain tissue has recovered, I will still always question whether a trait, a lapse in memory, slow reaction time, etc. are the result of something related to the car wreck. Because my brain has suffered this damage, I’ll never be the same person I was before the TBI, so it’s like I’ll never “fully” recover. When I started my recovery process I was a blank slate, learning and gathering information about who I was before and trying desperately to be that person again. One of the biggest obstacles was coming to terms with the fact that being that person again isn’t an option for me.

Accepting that I will be forever changed helped me to stop mourning the Lydia lost in that intersection. Recovery became a way to learn more about the Lydia I am now. Even though I have changed, the support of my family and loved ones never did. I didn’t have to go through this exploration alone. Having a traumatic brain injury is like rewriting who you are, and my car wreck provoked an identity crisis that forced me to ask myself, “Who Am I?”

One year after the accident, I’m still figuring out who I am and am in no rush to find the answer. To see the entire project, click here.

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