The Accident, the Jump and Living Through It

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Stephanie Flores

I know that we have all been through something or another. However, none of us has withstood what Jesus Christ did on the cross. He definitely has endured the most. Things may have happened to us at a very young age where we don’t have specific memory. Specific parts of our brain do remember, though. These events definitely form our lives. God knows everything that is happening to us and everything that is going to happen to us. I once heard that we can not question God, so I try not to. Like many, I had a very challenging childhood. We live in a dysfunctional world. My dad suffered from mental illness, poverty as a child and alcoholism. Although our dad was a financial provider, he was not much else. He was seeking something he never found because of the fact that he grew up with a very sparse knowledge of God. He was never taught to develop a relationship with God. He was subjected to nothing but traditions and rituals. I sincerely believe that if my parents were raised in Christian homes that our lives would have been much healthier. My mother, siblings and I now attend Bible believing churches. Praise God for that. Until the time I left for college in 1993, I definitely resided in a broken home. 

On July 8, 1991, I sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury. I was at my brother’s baseball All-Star game and I had left for work. I still don’t know why I went the way I did, but I assume I was taking my passenger home. My paternal aunt suggests that I may have been blinded by the sun. Four pieces of glass went in my head at 65 mph and I was in a coma for around two to three weeks. My Grandpa Flores passed in 1980 and I did see him during my recovery time. He was surrounded by birds and deer and it seemed animated. He asked me if I was ready to go back and I woke up saying my paternal Great Grandpa’s names. The accident happened about a month after I graduated from high school. I was also in summer school at the local college. My plans were to attend the University of Texas in the fall, but that was no longer going to happen at the time. When I was released from the hospital, I went back and took my summer school finals and got B’s. I remember I was like a baby in innocence when I started to recover. I didn’t know a lot about my surroundings, but I adjusted quickly. I had no physical injuries, so I seemed fine. I wasn’t prescribed any medication. I just had a few follow up visits with my neurosurgeons. 

I did start the local college in the fall of 1991 and I started getting D’s and F’s for the first time in my life. I had been in excellent schools since first grade and I had always done well. My parents were fighting still and genetic and organically induced mental illness set in. I jumped off of a significantly high bridge in my hometown and again I survived. I did have some back fractures because I landed on my back. I remember being near the seawall because I tried to climb out. When I jumped, I just drove up to the bridge, parked my car and jumped. Brain injured people are definitely left with impulsive tendencies. I remember just screaming for my Grandpa Flores. I remember hearing the medics say that they couldn’t believe it and that I was so young. Next thing I know, I was in a local mental health hospital under suicide watch. The first of many mental health hospitalizations. My family was in shock and my parents tried to find appropriate care for me. The then Neurobehavioral Institute of Houston accepted my dad’s insurance and I went over there for some time. I did improve significantly through my time there.

In 1993, I felt I was ready to try school in Austin, Texas. I had to start at Austin Community College because my GPA had dropped significantly due to the previous grades I mentioned. I went through some junior college and reapplied to The University of Texas at Austin. Thankfully, I was accepted into UT Austin in the Spring of 1995. Eventually, I moved in with my college boyfriend and that was a waste of four years. God tells us not to fornicate, etc. I still graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology in May of 1997. I decided to move back home, which was unthinkable. However, I wanted to continue my studies and my boyfriend and I were going nowhere. I started a Master of Arts in Psychology program the next fall in my hometown. I soon came to see through a related job that that particular degree was not for me. I quickly switched to a Master of Science in Counseling program and finished in December of 1999. My 22 year old is currently pursuing the same degree. Thankfully for me, it was much easier when I got that degree. She and I are very similar and very different. God works in His way.

I gave birth to the daughter I just mentioned in 2000 and I thank God that my mother was there to basically raise my Hannah from age 5 on up. After Hannah’s sister Rachel was born in 2004, the brain injury related medication no longer worked the same. I wasn’t on any brain injury medication initially. However, when depression set in and around the time of the jump, I was prescribed psychotropic medication. I took it from 1992 to 2004 and after Rachel was born, it no longer worked the same. I tried to take my life again after she was born. Rachel was raised by her dad. I visited with her, was there when I could be and I definitely wrote to her from jail and prison. She is now 17 and I have joint custody and visitation with no help from a lawyer. I did it all on my own…through court of course.  In 2009, I gave birth to Sabrina. I was very mentally not there. I met her dad in Austin at a homeless shelter, we drove to Corpus and were married shortly thereafter. We married in 2008 and he is no longer with us. 

From 2005 to 2014 my life was horrible. I was in and out of the local jail. I was in and out of psych hospitals in South, Central Texas and Sabrina was removed from me through no fault of my own two months after she was born. I used to work for Child Protective Services and the supervisor on call did everything she could to keep Sabrina from me. That supervisor did not like me as a co-worker. In 2011, a local political figure terminated my parental rights. Sabrina was adopted by her previous foster mother’s. Hannah found out that they changed her last name to Sass and that she lives in Round Rock, Texas. 

I was finally prescribed medication that worked for me in 2014 and I have been re-establishing my life ever since then. Today is October 31, 2022 and I still take medication. I couldn’t function without it. I also take Milk Thistle to help my liver. It is hard to drive near the accident site. I don’t like driving by the hospital I was taken to after I jumped off of the bridge. However, that is nothing compared to other people I have been hospitalized with. Only God knows the events of our lives. I have actually been in a place during my coma that has shown me that all I need to do is accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I pray blessings on everyone and I just have to say that life is a choice. If I am making it, so can you. God bless you.

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