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Bi-polar student fights hard to overcome affliction, writes book to inspire others
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By ELISE FRANCIS
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“The car had thrown me 30 feet in the air which left me in a coma for four days,” recalls Landon Sessions 30, a Florida Atlantic University graduate student with two disabilities.

When Sessions was 14-years-old, he was hit by a car going 40 mph as he was running down the street near his home in Atlanta. Sessions says that if the car had been going 5 mph faster, he would not be alive.

Sessions has a large scar on the left side of his neck, but when he is talking it is difficult to realize that he suffers from any disabilities. He speaks with intelligence and confidence. Sessions calls them his “invisible disabilities.”

Sessions, who is wearing a navy T-shirt and khaki shorts, is very down to earth and willing, with no hesitation, to tell his story.

After his coma, Sessions says he continued on with his life as a “normal” child. Neither he nor his parents realized there was something wrong with him until more than a decade later. It was then that he was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury (TBI), one consequence being that his brain has to work twice as hard to do the same tasks as healthy individuals.

The TBI, doctors say, also has caused Sessions to become bi-polar. These disabilities have changed Sessions’ life and spawned many symptoms with which he now has to deal.

“It’s like a normal person standing in 5 o’clock traffic in New York City trying to have a conversation with someone,” Sessions says. Among his symptoms, he says, are distractibility, and racing thoughts. These fatigue him.

Sessions says his disabilities can be very tough to deal with given that he has to take six types of medication, all of which have different side effects. For example, he has suicidal thoughts, he has to take several naps a day, and at random points in the day he can just feel depressed.

“It’s like being sick or having the flu,” Sessions says of when he experiences his bad days. These take a toll on him, especially because he is a graduate student studying for a master’s degree in sociology, and the work can get tough.

Sessions says he does not let the symptoms and side effects slow him down. Instead, he takes advantage of some of the free services that FAU provides to students with disabilities. He has a dedicated and committed note-taker for all his classes, as well as a learning specialist.

Sessions says that before he had a learning specialist his grade-point average was a 2.6, below the minimum requirement in graduate school of 3.0 on a scale of 4. The learning specialist has helped him increase his grade-point average to about a 3.7.

Success for Sessions has not stopped there. He has just finished writing his first book. It is entitled, Living Bi-Polar.

The book, Sessions says, is like a “how to” manual for living with bi-polar disease. Sessions says he was motivated to write the book because “doctors give you medicine and don’t tell you how to live with bi-polarity.” The book is a collection of stories about people living with bi-polar disease and an analysis of those stories.

Sessions is seeking to get the book published.

“Landon is empowered and is going to be successful,” Michelle Shaw, coordinator of note-taking, says. “He is an active OSD student who is not embarrassed about his disability.”

This is important, Shaw says, because it helps overcome many obstacles that students with disabilities face.

Sessions’ ultimate goal is to help others who share the same disabilities overcome them and excel as he has. His book is a stepping stone to achieving his aspirations. Sessions says, “It may be difficult but it can be done.”

 

 
 

 
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