Please Note: I am not a doctor. I do not have medical qualifications. I do not even have a completed college degree (only after I realized how deeply and invisibly TBI had affected me my entire life, could I explain why I attended 4 years of college, albeit sporadically, but couldn’t manage to get a degree). I am simply one individual who has learned how to live very effectively and even happily with the after-effects of multiple mild traumatic brain injuries. All I can offer is my own insight and experience to others like me, in hopes that it will help them live their lives more fully and with greater joy and satisfaction. If you believe you have had a TBI, please see your doctor and/or another qualified medical professional.
About the Blogger
I am a long-term (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who has been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications for 35 of my 43 years. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained injuries at age 7… and 8… and 14 and 16 and 17 and 22 and 24 and 30 and 39… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. (You can see my catalog of injuries that I can remember here)
I have a pretty active life, overall, provided that a lot of the activity is online and relating to my own hobbies and interests: writing, drawing, painting, research (esp. TBI and neurodiversity), music, and more. I am the Executive Producer of a broadcast program that goes out weekly across the nation, and internationally. That’s one of the reasons I do not speak with a great deal of specificity about my personal life and the people in it — I do not wish to endanger either my public persona (we all artificially construct our public personas, after a fashion — pretty much everybody knows this, or else they’re deluding themselves) or compromise the integrity and validity and acceptance of the programming I help to create each week. There’s just too much bias about TBI out there, and I don’t feel like dealing with prejudice, when I can just get my work done.
I make a point of hiding my “disability” from others — both because I don’t want to be stigmatized, and I don’t want to be pitied or treated like an invalid. It’s really a point of pride with me, that almost nobody knows I have had multiple mTBIs — unless I’ve told them. And when I’ve told them, they frankly didn’t believe me at first.
My mTBIs have impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, now, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.
About this Blog
My mission with this blog is:
- To reach out to the millions of individuals (5.8 million, I’ve heard) who have sustained a TBI, along with their friends, family, and co-workers, to help them better understand traumatic brain injury information from a “lay person’s” point of view. There is a vast sea of medical research and clinical findings available about TBI, not to mention studies, facts, and tons of websites, but it’s often confusing and can be very disorienting. Having a personal “take” on all of it, might just help to humanize this scientific information and make it accessible to the people who need it most — the folks who are living each day with the after-effects of a traumatic brain injury. I hope that in reading this blog, they may be better informed about TBI and quit being so hard on themselves and others, quit being so frightened of this manageable condition, end the silence around cognitive-behavioral issues that are neuro-physiological in nature (not due to some “character flaw”).
- To share my personal experiences with other TBI survivors and their families, to help them overcome the feelings they may have of wretched brokenness, to let them know they are not alone and help them see that a broken brain is not the end of the story, so long as your whole body-mind-heart-spirit “information-processing system” is intact. There is more to us than what’s between our ears, and we can live full and satisfying lives, even if they are turned upside-down by forces beyond our neurological control.
- To relate my experiences to the psychotherapists of the world, who may be chasing the wrong demons in their counseling sessions, trying to fix “psychological” issues of TBI survivors which are actually neuro-physiological in nature, and help these therapists address the very real emotional/cognitive/behavioral/social issues which plague TBI survivors, often in secret, often hidden behind thick, high walls of shame, fear, guilt, and anxiety. There is a lot to be done in this domain, but folks need to understand the real issues we TBI survivors face, before they embark on diagnostic and treatment courses of action that serve mainly to frustrate and discourage us, and make us feel even more screwed up than we really are.
- To assist our men and women in uniform, returning from active duty, who have sustained a TBI in service to this great country of ours, and who are left out in the cold by a medical and psychotherapeutic establishment that often does not understand or fully appreciate their challenges and needs as TBI survivors.
- To celebrate my successful long-term survival from a TBI and show others how I did it… and how I continue to do it, so they can have hope and, in the words of Winston Churchill, “Never, ever, ever give up!”
The world is not often friendly to those of us dealing with TBI — either as survivors ourselves, or as family/friends of survivors. The information we reveal about our own situations may be used against us in professional, social, and legal situations, and it can be used to disqualify us from participating fully in the world. This is a damned shame and fundamentally unfair and unjust, but that’s just how it too often is.
In order to keep the identities of people (including myself) safe and sound, and to not let personal details get in the way of the over-arching mission of this blog to educate and offer hope and resources to others like me, I tend to change the personal details of the people I talk about — this includes myself, my family, my friends, my coworkers, my doctors, my therapists, my inner and outer circle, pretty much anyone and everyone I encounter. I may (or may not) change their gender, their age, their place in my life, the circumstances in which I interact with them, etc. I do this NOT because I am ashamed of myself or what I’m going through or the difficulties and challenges I face each day. I do it because this educational/outreach work is more important than any personal opinions, details, or other private particulars. And it needs to be done.
So many of us are suffering in silence, feeling alone and isolated, and the sensitivity of our own confidential situations can work against sharing information. That should not be. We have a tool to overcome the boundaries and barriers between us — that tool, ironically, is total and complete personal confidentiality and the ability to disguise or change sensitive personal information in the online world. By revealing less about ourselves and what sets us apart from others, we have the chance to reveal more about what brings us together.
I do not want the sensitivity of personal details to prevent me from passing along vital information which may be of use to others — Principles Before Personalities, you might say. And so, I take some liberties with how I portray my personal circle, as well as myself.
Above all, I seek the Truth about TBI — my own, and TBI’s in general.
Even in the absence of intimate personal details.
Perhaps because of the absence of personal personal details.