It is my pleasure to share an inspirational guest post by author Jackie M. Stebbins, who gives a glimpse of her journey to publish this memoir.
JMS: During my senior year in college, I specifically recall one of my final classes where another student talked about her bucket list and that she desired to someday write a book.
I remember scoffing at her a little under my breath saying, “Puhh-leassse, that’s so cliché.” And for whatever legitimate or spiteful reason I seemed to have, I always thought people were being trite when they expressed that they, or someone they knew, should write a book.
I believe it’s because since a very young age, I was focused on becoming a lawyer, and never really committed myself to hobbies.
From the time I read my first John Grisham book in fifth grade, my heart was set on becoming a lawyer. Pursuing the law is time intensive academically, mentally, and emotionally. All of my waking hours and brain power seemed to go to family law, criminal defense, civil litigation, running my law office, and being the best wife and mother I could be when I was home.
But in 2018, my life was completely upended when I was diagnosed with autoimmune encephalitis (AE), a rare brain condition wherein a person’s immune system mistakenly attacks her brain. AE sent me into cognitive failure and it nearly stole my life.
When my brain was turned back on by intravenous steroids and I woke up, I realized that everything I knew was gone, including my beloved career.
And suddenly, it was no longer trite or trivial to write a book. It was the only thing that kept me alive in my darkest days.
Writing my memoir, Unwillable, quite literally helped me survive AE, recover from its devastating and traumatic onset, and rebuild my shattered life into an author, blogger, podcaster, and motivational speaker.
I always go back to my favorite quote from John Lennon: “Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans.” Yes. Life happened to me. And it turned me into a “cliché” author.
And I love every minute of it.
Jackie M. Stebbins
“Jackie Stebbins’ UNWILLABLE is an inspiring
story of a brilliant woman’s battle with autoimmune encephalitis and the circle
of support--from loving family members to dedicated physicians--who helped
guide her through a hard-won recovery. Her story is as moving as it is
important and is destined to help so many others facing this condition.”
Susannah Cahalan author of NYT #1 Bestseller Brain on Fire
I remember the moment it hit. It was like the physical
feeling of lightning striking me and an earthquake ripping through me all at
once. It had an instantaneous feeling of terror and destruction. The explosion
started in my brain and reverberated through my entire body. It caught and
spread like wildfire.
It is my memory that I sat upright in bed when it felt like
the lightning bolt struck my head. My hands and arms immediately started to fly
wildly and uncontrollably all over the place, as if I was trying to brace
myself while the earthquake tore through me. For just a second, I wanted to
scream out for help, but I couldn’t. I peed my pants. And after that, it all
The memory I have is only an instant long, but I can still
feel the desire to scream. I can feel my arms moving so rapidly and
uncontrollably that they are almost screaming out too. It is the worst of all
the nightmares, all the terrors, and all the episodes I had in that bed for
those seven months, in a few split seconds.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Jackie M. Stebbins was living her dream as a nationally recognized family law, criminal defense, and civil litigator. But Stebbins’s career as a lawyer abruptly ended in May, 2018, when she was diagnosed with a rare brain illness, autoimmune encephalitis. Stebbins persevered to make a remarkable recovery and turned herself into an author and motivational speaker. Stebbins is the author of the JM Stebbins blog and host of the Brain Fever podcast. Stebbins’s side hustle includes raising three lovely children with her wonderful husband, Sean, in Bismarck, North Dakota, and in her leisure time she can be found reading, trying to be funny, and aqua jogging.