Adrian Torbenson – Survivor

(Script of Video Below if you would rather read, or follow along)

Hello.  My name is Adrian Torbenson and today I want to share a story with you about my life and what I have overcome after getting hit by a truck.

My story starts on December 7, 2001 when I was 11 years old and in 6th grade.  I was walking home from a school dance in Winona, Minnesota when a drunk and drugged driver hit me while I was crossing Highway 61 in Winona, Minnesota.

After I was hit I suffered a shattered lower right leg.  The bone came ¾ of the way out of the skin and was almost amputated…but…now it’s just heavily scarred and deformed.  I broke my upper leg, dislocated my right shoulder, cracked me up in 5 different spots, and suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury which erased virtually all of my memory besides maybe one or two out of body experiences I remember.  When doctors found me, they pronounced me dead on the scene for, roughly about 3 hours, and said there was no way I could come back with “anything”but later I was put into a coma for about 2 weeks and doctors told my family that I would never wake up again and if I did, I would be a vegetable or couldn’t do anything. When I did wake up though,  I knew absolutely nothing – not even my name; not even how to speak; not even my family.  It was basically like being reborn again.

So when I did wake up, I screamed at the top of my lungs as doctors came running in and explained everything…but I was in disbelief until I looked down at my legs and saw metal pins sticking out of my legs, as doctors repeatedly told me I could never walk again   For about…roughly about 3 months I was relearning everything all over again – from my ABC’s to 123’s to learning family over again….as during that 3 month period I was repeatedly told that I could never walk again and I shouldn’t even try because my legs were so damaged; but about a month and a half into therapy when I was in muscle therapy for my arms I just randomly stood up and was shocked that I could stand so I decided to try  to take a very small step, and I did and later was… used a walker until about 8th grade.

When I got home to Winona, Minnesota all the friends and most of my family that I had all left me because I was so different and I still had one pin in my right leg and I developed depression and suicidal thoughts and actions, which stuck with me for most of my life; and as time went on – with my learning disability, memory problems, and rage it was very very very tough for me to fit in; very tough really for anybody to understand or like me – and as time went on I just kept attempting suicide – whether it was cutting or overdosing and I didn’t know what to do with my life; and in 8th grade I was able to lose my walker but still had the pin in my right leg; and later at basically the end of the school year I got the right pin taken out and I was on to High School.  That was one of my deepest and darkest times in my life…but…the start of who I am today.

And as High School went on I was teased more I  was actually had some people beat me up..each.. because they thought I was weak, and some relationships didn’t go well, and I went to the hospital for suicide about three times; and in 11th grade I was in the hospital that whole year because of a suicide attempt that I cut my…um.. left arm on –  and it was too deep.  As I got into 12th grade I was like “you know what – since I can’t fit in, since nobody likes me, since nobody wants to hang around me – why not just be MYSELF….and I was like that actually does sound really good cuz like people are always going to judge me and I want to do things that other people don’t;  I may look weird..but… hey I don’t have any friends…why not?!!?”

So, one day one of my teachers Mrs. Hill… she was playing some Techno music and I really liked it, and nobody was dancing;  and I was like “huh?” So my mind said go up there and dance and my body said NO! NO! NO! – but I was like, you know what – I’m gonna; heck if I wanna be different and nobody’s dancing then I’m going to dance if I want to”; and I went up to the middle of the concourse, bobbed my head down, felt the beat, took a deep breath in, and started dancing. (and) It was a lot of fun even though I have no dance skills…I just like to bounce. (and) I did that for a whole year. (and) People definitely made fun of me and all that but I was having fun, I was being myself;  but….because that only happens once or twice a week or on Friday’s or special occasions – I was like….I need to do something ELSE to be different and I don’t like just walking around, cuz that is what I used to do all the time. So after watching a movie of “Jackass’ I saw this “FREE HUGS” thing…and I was like….you know what….I’m gonna do that. So, in 12th grade I made a sign that said FREE HUGS (don’t know if you can see that) um…and…I stood at the door and a high school thing and said “FREE HUGS” and all that, and I gave a lot of free hugs. (and) I did that whenever music wasn’t playing. (and) A lot of teachers got mad, but I just kept doing it because it was benefiting a lot of people – and I love giving hugs!!! (and)

As time went on, about December 7, 2007…um…I still could never talk about it because it just hurt so much and I didn’t know what to do because it hurt so much.  Those days were the worst for me. Um…then that day in school, when I went to Mrs. Hill’s class…um…she actually asked me to speak about my accident – at the time I was like *eyes widened* –  WHAT???…and to be honest at that time I was getting a 4.0…um…but I was scared if I didn’t speak about it that I thought I would fail. So I went up there and spoke about my life at that time, and began crying because it hurt so much – and Mrs. Hill understood and got through most of the speaking and depression I was facing and how many times I cut myself a day.  (and) I went back down and that whole day was just …..really bad.  But the next day I woke up and I was like YOU KNOW WHAT?…I can ACTUALLY talk about this. I actually inspired some people in my class.  It felt so good! (and) From that day on I am continued speaking. (and) As High School kept going on, I always had the dream of going to college, but every doctor, every teacher, even family members told me I could never do it, because of my brain injury and learning disability. (and) Mrs. Hill said, “You’re going to go to college. I believe in you Adrian!”…I was like “yeah”..but the next week a Scholarship came over the intercom.  It was an “Above and Beyond” Scholarship and no one had applied for it and it needed to be done by that day by 3 o’clock. (and) Mrs. Hill said, “Go get that Scholarship Adrian!” So I went down and applied for it and handed it in before 3…and…I WON IT!

(and) I originally wanted to go to college for Massage Therapy because at that time I really liked massaging and people said I was good at it, so I wanted to go for it.  As I enrolled into Minnesota State College Southeast Technical, it was definitely a really big difference compared to what I was learning.. but I liked it. (and) At that time I was living in another group home (REM) and I was on over 32 medications, and I admit I did keep attempting suicide and all that.  (and) It was just hard because my depression just kept getting worse and worse and worse, as I was put on even more meds.  (and) I went to the adult..um.. hospital for some suicide attempts and missed out on some college – but they understood.

(and) One day I was like, “You know what..I’m sick of this life.  I am sick of everything I have to do.”  (and) On the television I read about an online killer who was meeting someone online and killed them. (and) An idea popped in my head like maybe that could happen to me (cuz I was so depressed).  I knew I couldn’t kill myself. (and) So I went online and looked for…I guess…people without profile pictures in hope to find a killer…to be honest. (and) I emailed everybody without profile pictures and I got a reply back from one person.

(and) We went on a date and found out it was a real girl and she was really nice and I kinda liked her. (and) We went on a second date December 6, 2011 and we kissed that night. (and) No relationship has ever ever – EVER worked out for me…..um….because of my depression and suicide.

(and) That night when I was at home, I began to cry SO HARD knowing that this relationship would not work out and she didn’t need someone like me but I kissed her and I liked her. (and) That night around 9:35, if I can recall correctly – I was writing a poem about how it would not work because I used poetry to cope and express my feelings, since I really had no one to talk to. (and) I was writing about how this relationship would never work out because of all my disabilities and depression and all that – but in the middle of the poem….I stopped – and said, “NO! Adrian you are going to make this relationship work.  You are going to love this girl truly.  You are going to give her all that you can.  You are going to make her happy, and you HAVE to change Adrian!” (and I kinda said some other strong words to get myself..); and in another poem I started writing about why I was so hurt, why I was so depressed, and I saw that I was holding on to the past of everybody who hurt me….everybody who made fun of me…everybody who did something bad to me, including doctors. (and) I was crying even more.  Tears were just raining down my face and I said I needed to forgive. (and) Usually when I try to forgive, it’s basically like saying “I forgive you ( just make up the name ) Tony the Tiger (for what he did)” – that really did not help at all.

So instead I made kind of like a 3 list thing:

First, the name (or how I remembered them – sometimes if I don’t remember the name I put like their clothes or how I remember them), and then what they did to me (on the line next to it), and then how it made me feel…..and I forgave them in that three step process. (and) I’ll give an example (which I used kind of a lot to be honest with real names and all that) – but here’s an example: I am selecting Tony the Tiger from Frosted Flakes. Um…but it went something like this and I had this all written out for real people and real emotions and all that, but it went something like this:

“I forgive you Tony the Tiger for eating my frosted flakes on that Monday morning.  I really wanted Frosted Flakes and I was kinda’ craving it and I did not want to eat mom’s porridge because I really do not like it – and I forgive you Tony the Tiger – for eating my Frosted Flakes when I wanted them that day.  I forgive you for making me eat mom’s porridge when I didn’t want to; and I forgive you Tony the Tiger – you no longer hurt me. You are no longer part of my life, and I forgive you”

…..and did that with actual real people and real emotions and went on the whole list of like 3 pages and I didn’t feel any different. (but) I looked deeper and saw it was myself who hurt myself the most, and I forgave myself, and said –

“I forgive you Adrian Torpenson, for all the suicide attempts, all the emotional abuse, all the beatings I did upon myself.  I forgive myself for every bad thing I have ever done to myself.  I forgive myself for every moment of locking myself in the bathroom and just pounding my head on the glass wall.  I forgive myself and I no longer want to hurt myself.  I no longer want to do negative things to myself and I forgive myself and actually love myself for once.”

(and)  I did some other things like that…..and then once that happened…..life TOTALLY CHANGED.

I eventually got off all the 32 medications besides one acid reflux pill….and…life went on.

About two weeks of dating her, I told her my dreams about being a published poet….um but never having Publisher’s like me or anything and there was an award winning Published Poet at my school. (and) I wanted to go to him but knew there would be absolutely no time he’d have for me, but Kellie said, “What’s stopping you?” and I realized….”What IS stopping me?” and I realized…it’s myself….AGAIN. I was stopping myself and the next school day that I had I actually went up to him and asked for Publisher’s; (and) he was more than happy to give me some Publisher’s of actual Publishing companies and self-publishing companies. (and) I went for self-publishing, and about a month later out of about all 900 of my written books on paper, I published my first book, “LOVE PAIN LIFE”.

This was published by Lulu.com and I kind of regret publishing with them, just because of how much it cost and the low quality of their services and all that….but I was happy to FINALLY publish a book.  That was a lifelong dream that I had and I did it in less than a month! (and) I felt SO GOOD!

(and) I play guitar and I was like you know what I have a couple of original songs – you know what – if I can publish a book – I can find a studio to record music in. (and) I found a studio that was relatively close to me….within walking distance of where I used to live back then. (and) He allowed me to record music at his place and I was able….I paid for 20 songs, but I made 2 CD’s.  One acoustic (which was 12 songs) and one I guess MetaComRap or “Metal Comedy Rap” as my brother and I used to call it.  Just because I was only able to fit 12 tracks on my CD “Just Can’t Move On”. final just cant move on album cover(and) This one was professionally recorded in Winona, Minnesota at Distorted Music Productions and Published with CDBaby…and it felt good to finally have a CD out that people could stream, people could buy on Spotify, people could buy it online or even find it in some stores.  It felt AMAZING.

“Just Can’t Move On” Original Acoustic Album


(and)Then the second album..I just brought my brother in and we recorded (“White Boys In Suits”).  I do not recommend looking them up because it’s just…..we’re very random and we swear a lot – but after that  I was like – You know what?

I was very very VERY unhappy with lulu.com I am going to try the next one. (and) I am like I’m going to try createspace.com –  and like…Yeah…It looks pretty good but I don’t know if it will have the same restrictions as Lulu; because with Lulu you had to pay to actually put it in actual regular size book format, you had to be a graphic designer and all that – but I went with createspace and published my second book “Falling Ashes”, which can actually be bought in smaller bookstores or even e-book or Nook I think it’s called – umm and that felt AMAZING because I got that done in really no time and I didn’t have to be a graphic designer.  I did everything I needed and  excellent distribution unlike lulu.com – for only $25.00 and that felt AMAZING!!!

Falling Ashes – Book

 

(and) As time went on I was getting closer where I had to keep repeating pre-algebra in college because I wasn’t very good with Math and still am not…but…I kept repeating Pre-Algebra I just know I could never do it, and then one time, my Advisor Steve Rudnik, he came up to me and said “Adrian this is your last chance to pass Math or you will have to repeat every single Networking class you have already taken” – and it clicked.  What is stopping me from Math? What is stopping me from getting this Networking Degree that I switched to?  Then I realized – even with the tutors that we have in college – they weren’t getting it like simple enough for me to understand, they were just confusing me more, and I decided – I have to find an actual tutor who can help me.  (and) While that was going on, my…my girlfriend at that time…Kellie got married on June 29, 2013…..and we’ve been married since.

(and) As time went on, as I said, I kept failing Math – then when I got that specialized tutor who actually helped me understand it in basic form, I was able to graduate with a Networking Degree from Southeast Technical College…um…on May 14, 2014 and that felt Super Good;IMG_20151124_125947 and because of learning what I did there – I learned there is such a thing as “ethical hacking” or “hacking for the good” – since media has that totally mixed up between hacking and cracking…..um I will explain that a little bit here.  There’s three types of hacking.  They’re hats.  There’s white hat hacking which is a good guy, which I want to do.  There is gray hat which is good and evil (or for destruction), and then there is the black hats, which the media refers to as hackers – when they are actually called “crackers” who actually hack for the bad, and to destroy things, and to steal information. (and) Once I learned that was actually legal and the F.B.I was looking for white hats like I want to be…..I was like – you know what???

After I graduate college I am going to try to find some way to either get certified or get a license and eventually work for the F.B.I. (and) I was looking around and everything was way too expensive though;  and while actively looking and still applying for jobs and all that – I was like, you know – I want to write a different book because I was so happy with createspace, let’s do a different book – but this time – let’s do a completely freestyle or what I mean by freestyle is nothing pre-written.  Just go to my computer and type. (and) I published my third book with createspace (“Behind The Glass”) and you can stream this with Nook and what-not.   That book is completely freestyle, except for one poem Behind the Glass.  Behind The Glass always made me cry when I read it, so I just put it in.

Behind The Glass – Book

(and) As time went on, I was off of the 32 medications for so long that one of my doctors put me on a medication that I personally said I didn’t want to because of the rare side affects, and she personally did not really believe what happened to me when….me I’m more vulnerable to the rarest, basically unknown, or almost unheard of side affects of a lot of medications…..to be honest; and….and the….

Earlier this year I…on January 19th, I woke up unable to get my hand out of this position *shows bent hand in fist* and I went to the ER because I woke up unable to even open it.  I was scared to death.  I didn’t know what happened. (and) I went to the ER and they took an x-ray and said yeah because of that one little pill you took…that pill destroyed all the muscle in your left hand Adrian and you’re going to have to get it amputated. (and) Right there I was in so much fear…like “oh no, I don’t want to get my hand amputated!” (and) as they kept talking they said “do you want to go get it amputated today?”….and I said, “I don’t want to, NO!  I’m actually going to seek out a muscle specialist to try and help me gain strength back” and the ER actually respected that….so that made me happy; and after some training and all that I’m actually able to use this hand for basic to advanced tasks, and I can play guitar again;  I can do video games and all that stuff again, so I was very happy about that.  Sometimes I still have to wear a hand brace but my hand is getting better every single day.

(and) As time went on, I heard of this website – udme – that offers some free and some paid training.  (and) They had the course that I actually wanted for ethical hacking, and I took that with the basic knowledge of Kelly Linux (the hacking operating system) and I was able to get certified on March 10, 2016 and that felt AMAZING, because I got like all of my dreams completed;  but the certificate doesn’t get me to where I want to be with like the F.B.I and all that….so in about….sometime in the future on the June 20….I believe it’s 22nd of 2016 (for 5 days) – I will actually take the training to get licensed as an ethical hacker and take an exam to see if I pass and can get a License to work for the F.B.I because as I know…..for me…..nothing is impossible!

(and) I want other people who have TBI’s or are having trouble completing their dreams because of other obstacles that….don’t let other people take away your dream.  I mean that is easier said than done, but just look at your surroundings;  look how far you’ve come.  People may not see you as going far, but they have not been in your shoes.  We are Survivors.  We are strong and I believe in each and every one of you,  who are even stronger Survivor’s than me.

You may have a TBI and other… maybe physical limitations…but you are the strong.  You are the powerful and you can achieve any single dream; and ….if you need links to anything I will definitely give you those, and if you needed advice – definitely know that there is DEFINITELY SUPPORT OUT THERE.  There’s other people who would be able to understand you.

I don’t want anybody to feel alone like I did and not be able to feel like they can’t accomplish any dreams, because any dream is possible – we just have to take different trails or roads to accomplish them……

But please…just know….You ALL are so strong and each and every one of you that I hear the stories of inspire me and try to make me… become stronger; because compared to any of you – I am nothing compared to all of you who are on the daily struggles and all that; but just know, even with a TBI.  We are SURVIVORS…..and… we ARE STRONG!

I hope you all have a great day and any questions – contact me – have a great day, bye-bye.

 

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