A Texas mother who lost half of her face when she fell on hot curling iron during an epileptic seizure is determined to use her scars and experiences to help others—and to find a deeper definition of beauty.
Over a year after the freak accident, Brittney Sullivan, 32, is still facing more operations and has suffered setbacks with skin-grafts not taking and further seizures. But she is determined to share the mantra, which she feels was forged through her experience: beauty within.
Sullivan’s 8-year-old daughter found her face down on her hot curling iron and unconscious one January morning last year.
“I was standing in my bathroom, curling my hair getting ready for work, Sullivan told the Mirror. “The next thing I knew, I’d woken up in the hospital.”
Sullivan, who was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2013, suffered third-degree burns to her face, but her eye was miraculously unharmed.
After 12 days in the hospital, she started the arduous path of facial construction. Rather than use a skin graft from another part of her body, surgeons stretched the remaining skin on her cheek gradually over a round prosthetic, until it was large enough to reach over her scar.
“I can promise you there have been days where I have felt defeated and I have felt like giving up,” she wrote on Facebook at the end of March. “But I know that giving up is not the answer.”
“I was created for such a time as this and I will not let the devil win. I will not let epilepsy win, and I will not let the ugliness of the world make me feel like I am any less than beautiful.”
Sullivan was writing on a Facebook page titled Beauty Within Brittany, where she has charted her recovery, and which she hopes can inspire other people.
Sullivan told the WFAA last year that beauty was always important to her and that she struggled with insecurity.
“I was a heavy-set girl growing up. I always thought I have to be beautiful, I can’t leave the house without makeup, and I can’t leave the house without my hair fixed,” Sullivan told the news station.
Sullivan said she turned to her faith as she struggled to come to terms with her injuries and the negative thoughts that raced through her mind.
“A million things went through my mind—is my husband going to leave me? Are my kids going to fear me?”
“I just got on my knees and prayed—asking God to give me an answer and telling me what to do,” Sullivan said.
“I told myself that I’m tired of being that insecure person. I don’t want to be her anymore, so I’m going to be beautiful and I’m going to show everybody the beauty within me,” she said.
Sullivan is still moving through the process of facial reconstruction. Various images show her face with her eye covered by a graft: this is a temporary stage during which the graft bonds.
Good afternoon prayer warriors!! I wanted to reach out to you all and give you an update as to what is going on with my…
Sullivan wrote on her Facebook page that she has suffered many seizures since her accident, with three ones that scared her. “One of them happening while sitting on my front porch. Another while standing in the bedroom one morning and another while laying in bed.”
“Epilepsy is a daily fear. Fear turns into anxiety and worry. Worry that at any time I will go into a seizure.”
But while she might be scared of the seizures, Sullivan isn’t frightened of the curling iron that flipped her life inside out.
“It’s not scary using heated hair stylers,” she said, according to the Mirror. “I’m a lot more cautious but not scared.
“I teach my daughters the dangers but I don’t want them to be afraid because of what happened to me.”
Sullivan said she is proud of all of her children, including of course, Makennah, the daughter who found her on the bathroom floor a year ago.
“Each one of them has learned so much from their mum having such an extreme thing happen to her, but Makennah is my lifesaver.”