dealing with behavioral health issues from closed head injury

A usually mild-mannered driver, suddenly not.

  • tbi and road rage
  • tbi and adrenalin
  • dealing with behavioral health issues from closed head injury
  • mental disordes from brain injury
  • restoration of self after traumatic brain injury
  • overcome concussion
  • stress effecting performance
  • can avoidance emotinal numbing ptsd symptoms end a relationship?
  • self part of brain
  • tbi anger

So far today, 17 people have searched on these combinations of words — 5 of them about road rage. And it’s early, yet.

I wish I could see the time of day people are searching – I suspect it’s late at night, after everyone has gone to bed. They are thinking back on their day and the close call(s) they had while they were driving, wondering if their freak-outs had anything to do with their head injuries/concussions. Maybe they were going to work. Maybe they were coming back from work. All they know is, they flipped out and almost lost it behind the wheel of the car.

While it was happening, it felt so normal, it felt so right, it felt so justified.

But after the dust has settled, and they look back on the incident from a distance (and after a good meal), they realize that their reaction was wildly out of proportion to what actually happened. Somebody cut them off once too often. Somebody else wasn’t paying attention and did something bone-headed. And they could have killed them. Literally.

Is a stupid-ass move on the interstate worth pulling hard jail time?

You be the judge.

Anyway, yeah… behavioral health issues from closed head injury… When I think about it, the real problem factor is the “closed” aspect — in part, because a closed head injury isn’t obvious, like a broken leg dangling limply, or a ragged gash across the face. It’s hidden — from everyone — and it’s damned hard to manage. Believe me. Closed head injury is no piece of cake, especially for the survivor. Our brains can be pretty convinced they’re right, when they are anything but. And no one can tell us anything, because we’re so convinced that this right feeling is a right being. It’s not, but we often don’t realize it till much later.

And after the damage is done.

There’s another “closed” part of the troubled TBI dynamic that’s problematic, too — the closed minds of people all around us. The people who either make up their minds that you’re deficient and damaged and you’re not going to get any better… or the people who are closed to the idea that you need to do things differently in your life, like get to bed at a decent hour or have a conversation about what needs to be done, that’s more in-depth than a handful of instructions/commands/demands… or the people who are afraid of their own human frailty and marginalize you because you’re different and you remind them that they are not omnipotent.

The more I read and the more I look around and the more I think about things, the more I’m convinced that social isolation is one of the worst things you can do to a closed head injury survivor. Or any injury survivor, really. But especially TBI survivors. Because we need to be “in the mix” with other people. We need to be involved. We need to be able to watch other people and remember/re-learn how to act. We need to be able to interact with other people and take cues and close from them. We need to remember what is “normal” and practice at it. We’re not lost causes — unless everyone (including us) gives up on us.

Practice, practice, practice. With other people. Build up the connections in our bodies and minds that help us conduct ourselves as regular folks. Re-knit the synapses of our brains and re-establish connections that restore our sense of selves. Our sense of self is a funny thing — it’s often best defined in relation to others. So that we can only be truly unique and original when we are surrounded by other people who are like us, but yet very different.

But when we’ve got these behavioral problems — which are so very often triggered by physical issues that nobody can see — it’s tough to hold your own in the company of others. We get tired, because we have to work so hard at simple things, and we may have to work harder to keep our balance, deal with hyper-sensitive senses, or adjust for changes in our speed of processing. And when we get tired, we get irritable. And/or our attention wanders. And/or we get agitated. And we start to act out. We speak out of turn. We strike out at perceived threats. We snap at the ones we love, we chew out our co-workers. We think we’re standing up for ourselves, but we’re launching offensives against people and events that may pose no real threat to us at all. We just think they do. We get scared. We get confused. We’re all amped up on adrenaline, and we fly into a rage like a fighter pilot taking off from an aircraft carrier. We ride the anger roller-coaster. We jump on the temper train and take off for the frontier, six guns shooting all the way.

And because the people around us very rarely appreciate our situation — or if they do, they just forget — we end up looking like friggin’ idiots and imbeciles. Which doesn’t help our case, even if we have a justifiable right to be angry and upset.

So much for social integration.

Especially if you’re surrounded by people who have a lot invested in playing it cool. Who insist on everyone being smooth and chill and controlled. They need this veneer, this packaging, this mythic strength about them and everyone around them that instills confidence, even if there’s no justifiable reason for that confidence. They pour all of their energy into coming across a certain way, and expecting everyone around them to do the same. If there are any cracks in the armor, it spells trouble. They lose confidence. Quickly. And then all seems lost.

What’s amazing to me, is how un-real so many people in the world are… How they build their entire lives around playing roles of the cool folks, the most popular kids in high school, and even when they mess up, they never admit it — they either cover it up or deny it completely. They just won’t let their guard down for a moment. Because then the jig would be up, and they’d be found out for who they are — people just like everyone else. Pretty lonely, actually. And closed. Closed to the full range of human experience and emotion and evolution.

This is the “closed” part that hurts us the most — the smallness of the minds of so many. We may have had closed head injuries, but so many people willingly close their perfectly functional minds to the vast possibilities out there. And not only do they distance themselves from people around them and make it harder for all of us to just be who we are, but they also cheat themselves of the full range of life, imprisoned in their own definitions of what is and is not acceptable.

But when I think about it, it seems to me that these folks — the closed ones — are probably as hungry for acceptance and freedom as anyone else. They are that way for a reason. Perhaps because others have ridiculed them or made life difficult for them. Maybe they’re short. Maybe they’re not beautiful. Maybe their parents were cruel to them. Maybe they’re sensitive and have been hurt too many times by bullies. Maybe the only way they can really survive in the world, is to be that way — closed. Who am I to judge?

All I know is, being closed doesn’t help any of us. We have all been hurt. We’ve all been injured in some way or another. And we can all use some generosity of spirit and help, as we go about our lives.

dealing with behavioral health issues from closed head injury… it’s always a challenge. But it can get better. The main thing to remember is that anxiety and stress and pressure don’t help the situation. The first thing to do, with TBI, is reduce the stress, take the pressure off, ease off the adrenalin accelerator, and quit being so hard on yourself. Learn to laugh at the things you do, and they will no longer rule your life. We tend to take things so seriously, we TBI survivors, and we see such gravity in everything. Every event can seem momentous and earth-shaking, but it ain’t always so, and the sooner we learn to lighten up, the quicker we’ll find our wings.

If nothing else, remember – you are not alone. Plenty of other people feel the way you do, and they manage to make it through somehow. TBI isn’t the end of the world, and neither is a temporary overdose of gravity. Behavioral problems come and go, and our health is often relative. If we can just be grateful for the good we have in our lives and focus on that, it can help a great deal. And if we can get some extra rest to take the edge off our sleep-deprived agitation and ease our exhaustion-related behavioral issues, all the better.

I recently read a statement that the human condition with its ups and downs is a lot like the weather — seasons come and go, passions rise and fall like floods during summer storms. Weather comes and goes. That’s just what it does.

And yet we survive. Look around. We’re still here — and that’s pretty amazing.

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