Thirteen years into her life, Christine Hermann was forced to start from the beginning – when she became a teenager with the emotional capacity of an infant.
The day before her thirteenth birthday, Hermann was playing outside with her friends, when she ran out into the street and was hit by a car. Thrown 46 feet upon impact, she slammed the left side of her head on the hood of the vehicle, ultimately suffering from the effects of her forehead hitting the asphalt, violently battering her frontal lobe.
The accident put her into a coma and left her with irreversible brain damage.
Diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI, Hermann would be left with delayed emotional growth and development, as well as difficulty organizing, learning, and understanding new concepts.
The assault on her frontal lobe would tear years of experience from her life – depriving her of the ability to establish strong interpersonal relationships with others.
Hermann returned to school after intense recovery and would graduate on time with her class, but she felt isolated and alone. It would take her years to realize the extent of her injuries and the impact they had on her emotional development.
After high school, Hermann attended college in San Diego. But, while her classmates were following the natural progression of adulthood, Hermann found herself unable to build relationships. She was in her 20s, but had the emotional state of a 13-year-old. She wanted to marry and have children, yet she seemed incapable at the time.
Determined to find a career path, Hermann settled with teaching. Although this was not her passion, the occupation would provide enough income to support herself. But, teaching came with many obstacles for Hermann. The TBI caused her to have difficulty organizing and learning new concepts, and she had been deprived of a childhood because of the accident – making it more challenging to understand the developmental stages of her students.
After establishing her teaching career, Hermann was able to buy her first home. Being a naturally energetic person, she was highly motivated to achieve her personal goals. But, according to Hermann, something was still not right. In social situations, people would dismiss her because of her immaturity, unaware of her stunted emotional growth.
After 15 years of teaching, Hermann was laid off from her job, causing her to foreclose on her home and file bankruptcy.
While driving on the freeway one day, her situation brought her to a breaking point. “I was so angry that years of my life had been taken from me,” said Hermann. “I was angry at God because 27 years of my life had been taken away. … I was busy recovering who I had been. How do you get that back?”
At that time in her life, Hermann said that she finally realized that her brain injury had been preventing her from forming relationships. After years of feeling discouraged, she took the time to reflect on her experiences.
“I was not acting like my age. I wasn’t able to discern appropriateness. That is what happens with a traumatic brain injury,” she said.
Eventually moving back in with her parents, Hermann spent time learning about what she truly was passionate about – the study of human behavior and connections. She decided to go back to school, taking writing and psychology classes. She loves psychology and views it as a way to analyze her own struggles, as well as improve the lives of others.
“I want to encourage people to be the best they can be,” said Hermann. “I know what it is like to be discouraged and not have the tools to succeed. But if someone can walk right beside you, it makes the walk that much easier.”
Hermann wrote a book based on her life struggles, called “Because it Didn’t Kill Me,” as a bridge to help encourage those with traumatic brain injuries, as well as a tool to educate people about the needs of those struggling with TBI’s. She wants people to understand that individuals with this injury need time and patience, not isolation and rejection.
“If I would have known I had a disability, I would have been in contact with somebody to get the tools to succeed.”
Hermann continues to tutor children, and enjoys working with her publishing company, Baylin Books. Her journey has lead her to speak at conferences and share her story, building connections and fulfilling her passions.
“Jeremiah 29:11 states that God has plans for you, for a future and a hope,” said Hermann. “I believe God made me a teacher to give me back the childhood that I lost. A traumatic brain injury is not the end.”
To purchase the book, visit https://www.createspace.com/5388535 or http://www.amazon.com/Because-It-Didnt-Kill-Me/dp/0996210105.