In 2015, at just 25 years old, Jessica Stevens sustained a traumatic brain injury in a severe road traffic accident.
She has documented her recovery in her soon to be released book, Everything is broken. We recently caught up with her as part of our Q&A series before the book's launch later this year.
My partner Ryan. He is so kind and patient, even though it must be exasperating having to constantly repeat himself. He has never once let me down during my recovery, and he understands everything from my frustration to my forgetfulness.
Never take anything for granted. Your whole existence could change in a split second. One day you could be complaining about something as trivial as a bad journey home from work, then the next day you could almost die in an accident. To me, the key to living a happy life is perspective. I think it’s good to realise things could always be worse.
Leighton Meester who plays Blair from Gossip Girl. I think she’s so beautiful, strong and funny. She's everything I want to be and I love her!
Anything that has the colour pink, which is everything from my laptop, to my phone, to various decorations in my house. I also love my cat Max. My Dad bought him for me as a housewarming present when he was a kitten. I absolutely love all cats, even when Max brings me in ‘presents’ he’s killed from the garden.
I was told a good way to remember a new person’s name is to think of a little rhyme for them (e.g. Jess the mess). I can never, ever, remember any rhyme I think of! So then that means I’ve forgotten two bits of information every time I meet someone new!
I can’t even remember who said this to me (or why), but I have just never been able to forget it: 'you don't look brain-damaged'. This felt very hurtful and accusative, like I was faking my injury or like I didn’t even have the right to say I was injured because I looked fine.
I have the guilty pleasure of watching trash TV - I love a bit of Jezza Kyle. I just can’t get enough of scandalous or unbelievable stories!
Finding out how much my partner Ryan, my friends and my family love me. I had a variety of visitors every single day in hospital. They would each always bring me thoughtful little presents, like cat print pjs, or a pretty hairbrush, but I valued and wanted just their company more than anything. The first time I was alone with Ryan, he hugged me tight as I whispered ‘missed you’ in his ear. He says he loves that memory so much.
The Headway website is a truly invaluable tool after a brain injury. It offers support around various issues, including where to go for support groups, facts about brain injury, how you can help, where to find solicitors, advice for carers and so on.
Flying because it means I could easily and quickly get to anywhere I wanted to go for free.
After my car accident, I spent months engaging in a lengthy rehabilitation process. My book details how I needed help from muscular-skeletal and neuro physiotherapists, and a personal trainer: they each helped repair the different aspects of my life which had been damaged.
You never fully recover from a TBI, but you can learn how to adapt your lifestyle so you get the most out of life you can. That is why I have written a book, it details my recovery at every stage and I hope it helps others along the same journey.
The book launch date is set for Tuesday, 26 March, but people can pre-order from my website.
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