Willingness, Desire and Determination Led Me Here: Dr. Lisa

This is the final part of a 4-part story of one very brave and dedicated TBI survivor. While this story concludes here, I can assure you Lisa is not done.  She has more ambition than I have ever seen in a person. She is your comeback kid in spite of so many obstacles placed in front of her over the years.  These stories only scratch at the surface as to the challenges she has faced and endured throughout her life.

She still struggles with executive functions but has a wealth of knowledge and resources to help her navigate them to be successful. She is now Dr. Lisa who can help others with a wide range of mental health issues that are keeping them stuck from living to their fullest potential.  She works with others now using her wealth of knowledge and personal experiences to have profound effects on many lives.

Overcoming, One Day at a Time

I went back to school with the focus of studying how mental health can impact the quality of life for mild to moderate TBI survivors. I listened to fellow TBI survivors discuss their struggles with low self-esteem, depression, and shame as these variables were reported to be the most common among the survivors. Negative encounters with people have turned me into an introvert, my desire to understand what other survivors and I experience has turned me into a researcher.

When I walked on-stage for my doctoral hooding ceremony, as a graduate with high distinction, I thought about all the obstacles, steps, motivation, and my desire to serve other people. School enabled me to mature in ways I could not believe. School was my rehabilitation process. The car accident changed my life no doubt, but school provided me with opportunities to learn.

When people said, “I can’t help you”, school taught me how to look for other resources to try to help myself.

Do not misunderstand, we all need someone, and at times, we need a professional to talk to. I need to give credit to my vocational-rehabilitation counselor because she has put up with a lot from me over the years.  She met me when I slurred my words, could not form sentences easily, and I forgot so many things (even the counselor’s name at times), but the counselor also nudged me even when I wanted to be left alone.

Over the years, she has put me in touch with some great resources such as Michelle who have helped me learn in a face-to-face manner how to deal with things which I struggled and still struggle with. I do not mind sharing that Michelle has been of great help to me when I have needed to process overstimulation and processing issues.

Having someone who understands my challenges and who wants to help instead of belittling, is such a blessing.  One thing among many, which I have learned is, my mind can tell me there is no one who seems to be willing and able to help me, that is just in my head.

Wonderful professionals aside, there must be a willingness, determination, and a desire to change. Some of the greatest help to change comes from within, and through faith in a power greater than myself.  For me, that is God, through the love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

I chose to share my story because so many people are stigmatized by circumstances beyond their control and in the end, each of us has a choice on how we deal with the cards life has dealt us.

In my case, when I hit an obstacle, it knocked me down and I had to muster the motivation to get back up and try again. Sometimes, it is people who have endured hardship in life who work the hardest to make meaningful changes in their lives. Did I prove the doubters wrong? I have no idea, and frankly, it does not matter because the biggest doubter was myself. If you would have asked me eleven years ago if I would be where I am today, I would have laughed until my ribs hurt.

Someone was watching out for me, carrying me when there was only one set of footprints, and believed in me when I did not believe in myself.

My life is not a bed of roses and I do struggle, but through all the trials, obstacles, and joys, yes joys, there has been one constant in my life and that is faith. Without faith, I would have died at my kitchen table ten years ago. Without faith, I would not have had the courage to move forward when I kept hitting negativity by others and roadblocks within my own denial. Though there have been many challenges in my life, I count my blessings and realize I would not be where I am today without the love of God and His faith in me, when I had no faith in myself.

Life is still a struggle and though I have initials after my name, I am still disrespected by those who cannot see past the blinders in front of their eyes and only choose to see me as “different”, “awkward”, or “odd”. The shunning, rejection, being passed-over for jobs I am more than qualified for, and the sense of not being good enough to fit in society, some would say it is all in my head, but when the same thing keeps happening and only the location has changed, it gives one pause. The other day, I was talking with a member of law enforcement, having a casual conversation and when he found out I have a doctorate degree, I thought he was going to fall flat to the ground. The look of shock on his face was somewhat funny, but at the same time, it was insulting.

In recent weeks, there has been a lot of discussion about inequality with most reference to race. Discrimination and presupposition are equal opportunity social bias and injustice perpetrators. People do not ask to be born a certain way, nor do people ask to be injured and disabled.

Learning to accept the difference between who they once were and who they are now is a huge challenge in and of itself. Being discriminated against because someone is different, that’s not only social unjust, it shows a lack of self-respect for the individual(s) who cannot accept difference from their own perspective.

My name is Lisa. I have many flaws and many talents. I am, different. I am, a TBI survivor. I am, TBI Survivor Strong.

Lisa Marie Ansell, EdD, LPC, NCC, CBIS
Licensed Professional Counselor
National Certified Counselor
Certified Brain Injury Specialist
Adjunct Professor at a Private University

If you missed the previous parts of this story you can find them here:  part 1part 2, part 3.

If you have anything to share please feel free to reach out to me at www.razcoaching.com  or www. coachingacademics.com. [email protected] Or follow my www.Instagram.com/razcoaching. I do daily mini blogs with tips of inspiration and post almost every day.  There’s something in there for you that can help you with your focus for the day.