Now I don’t feel so presumptuous

I’ve been digging into the Give Back Orlando materials, for the past few days, highlighting as I go. I printed out a copy of Teaching Yourself to Prevent Head-Injured Moments by Dr. Larry Schutz and I comb-bound it at work, using the hole puncher they have there and some comb binders I’ve been toting around with myself for years, in case I need to bind something. I often find documents that are much easier to handle bound, than as a loose sheaf of papers.

I have to say, reading it has been a real relief. As someone who basically self-diagnosed my problems and came to the realization on my own that I had serious issues — and had for a long, long time — and I needed to do something about them, I’ve had my doubts at times about the veracity of my quest. What numbskull actually runs around looking for reasons to call themself “head-injured?” I’ve thought to myself more than once, over the past couple of years.

But you know what? It’s a good thing I do, because if/when I don’t, as often as not, I end up in a whole lot of trouble. With people. With work. With situations I totally misjudge without ever realizing it.

Part of me knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that getting hit on the head, falling down stairs and out of trees, having car accidents, and getting hit really hard during sports games is not a good thing for my overall life. But every now and then, it’s nice to hear someone outside of my own head — someone who is a professionally trained and qualified brain rehab person — confirm out loud what I feel in my bones to be true.

Here’s a tasty nugget from Chapter One about “Learning about the injury” (bold is my addition):

Head-injury survivors can spend their lives trying to prove that the injury has not changed them in any important way. It’s easy to do, and there is plenty of evidence. Most survivors can still do everything they could do before the injury, even their most advanced job and hobby skills. If they could run a computer before, they can still do it. If they knew how to do brain surgery or rocket science, they still do. If they could speak four languages, they still can. If they knew the whole history of ancient Sumeria or ancient Motown, they haven’t forgotten it. They are 98% the same as they always were. But they usually feel 100% the same, and often they work hard to claim to be 100% the same.

They are the ones who don’t recover.

There is another way to live after a head injury. It involves working to notice what has changed.

Most survivors don’t do this. It would be unpleasant and negative, and many people want to think positive and feel good. Besides, all survivors get a powerful feeling from inside that they are doing things correctly at all times. The injury has shut down the brain’s quality control system, jamming it in the “all clear” position. The brain says everything the survivor does, everything the survivor says, is coming out just right.

It says “I am no different than I was before the injury.” And it’s not just a weak feeling–it’s a feeling of total certainty, a lock, dead solid perfect, a slam dunk! It’s the feeling the person has always gotten when things went just right. It feels good, and it feels right. So why question it?

Some people question it because it is their style to be concerned about screwing things up. They hate to fail, and they want to be extra careful. And the moment a survivor tries to be extra careful, that feeling of being right on the money, dead solid perfect in everything you say and do doesn’t make sense. Because if you look for things you have screwed up, you can find them. There have been more errors, more missed opportunities, more things you wish you had said in another way, more bad decisions, more times when you forgot to do something important or forgot a critical message–yet each time, you felt okay about what you were doing. As soon as you look for the things you’re doing wrong, you start to find them. And once you do this, you can see that for some reason these errors don’t feel wrong when they occur. And for some strange reason, you aren’t thinking of yourself as a person who makes more mistakes now, even though you should.

As you think about that, you begin to realize that there’s something wrong with how you evaluate yourself.

The survivors who realize this are the ones who start recovering on their own.

This, my friends, is a perfect description of me and how I came to this path. I am one of those detail-crazy individuals who hates to fail. I spend an awful lot of time trying to not screw up… and when I started to turn my eye to myself and my own actions and results, rather than looking out at everyone else, well, I could see there were a lot of errors. And none of them made sense. Because I was certain, every time I was making mistakes, that I was dead-on, 100% correct — no, 1000% correct. No doubt about it. But when I took a cold, clear look at what was really, truly going on — the botched jobs, the failed relationships, the disappearance of hundreds of thousands of dollars in a very short time… well, my logical mind could not deny there was something wrong, any longer.

So, here I am.

I’m just glad that someone else — who’s not inside my sometimes-screwball head — knows how to explain, describe and articulate it.

Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, 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.

4 thoughts on “Now I don’t feel so presumptuous”

  1. I’m glad u quoted all that. I don’t know about that book, or any other good book–RELATED TO TBI/BI… & I’m not sure if I’m a 100% ready to go deep in one &/or to look any deeper at all that–because what I am figuring out & seem to know, & what I’ve looked at already I’m not sure that I can handle!!!

    After many years, I have finally started to look at my life more deeply, after making many mistakes, & screwing up sooooo many things in my life, & making sooo many bad decisions. But, for me, I had been through some other serious trauma–crime related & I just thought & attributed all my problems & issues to that & all the PTSD from that.

    But, I have decided that maybe–after multiple head injuries, & after a real bad TBI a long time ago–that really super changed my life & how I relate to other people that maybe most of what’s going on with me is related to the BI stuff!!! I mean, before my major TBI I went to church, had friends, related to other people fairly well. I had a job that I loved–at 1 end of the street, & an apartment that I dearly loved–rt over top of this wonderful old couple–at the other end. I loved my life!!! I was confident, sure of myself. Dated.

    When I had my car wreck/TBI/other injuries, it cost me my job, my apartment; & the church people & friends that I “thought I had” just disappeared!!! They didn’t come to visit, or cheer me up, or send me cards & flowers, or offer to take me out for a ride–after I finally got to where I could walk & go a few feet & have enough sense to actually talk to them.

    Amazing how quickly folks disappear when u r suddenly disabled, or not the same–to them (or looking back, me either); or when they see u as different from them, as broken, as defective merchandise now. Due to their own ignorance, their own prejudices, their own fears they now separate themselves from u–for many reasons, like not knowing how to relate to u any more or how to talk to u any more (because now all u can talk about is ur physical pain, ur mental pain & deficits, & maybe u can’t get around the same any more, or think as fast, or compute as fast. Some thing/s somewhere inside u–ur brain, ur body have changed!!! U now belong to a different part of society!!!

    U now belong to the broken part, the weird part, the freak part, the disabled part, the handicapped part, etc…… And, they don’t want to be a part of that class!!! It makes them too uncomfortable!!!!!!!!! And, they can’t handle that!!!!


    The funny thing is, I knew that I was in terrible shape at 1st, & it was sooo terrible that I thought that I was paralyzed, that I was blind, & that I would never be able to think again or answer or have a normal conversation!!! I was not kept in the hosp… I was sent home that night by an ER doctor who blammed me by saying that I got what I deserved because I was not wearing a seatbelt!!! So, I lay flat of my back staring at the ceiling of my bedroom, fully responsible now for figuring out what the hell was wrong with me, what the hell was happening to me, or if I would ever recover, or even how to recover.

    But, the funny thing: I did recover!!! And, when I finally did, I thought that I had finally returned to NORMAL!!! I was convinced that I was now a 100%!!! I was walking. I began driving again–very fearfully–bad PTSD from the wreck!!! I have even gone to college since then–more than once. I have an A.S. Degree. And, I have taken classes since then, gotten A’s, even got a 4.0 once & got on the DEAN’S LIST–something I hadn’t even done when I was growing up, or in high school!!!

    I had LD’s so the college said that in order to get assistance with my classes that I had to go get re-tested. That doctor shocked the hell out of me–by saying that I was brain damaged. I thought WHAT??? R U FREAKING CRAZY??? UR THE ONE THAT’S BD…..!!! THERE’S NO FREAKING WAY THAT I CAN GO TO COLLEGE GET AN A.S. DEGREE, & AM IN COLLEGE AGAIN & MAKING A’S & CAN BE B.D……!!! I was convinced that there was no way in hell that u could b brain damaged & function as well as I was functioning & make A’s in college!!!!

    I was convinced that he was a real quack, a real nut job!!! But, that stuck in my head–as to why he would say such a thing!!! It always stayed somewhere in the back of my head. But, I marched rt on with my life!!!!!!!

    But, as yrs went on, & on, & on, I began to have more head injuries, & more deficits. Nothing that I could put my finger on, or go Ah Ha!!! It was all subtle stuff!!! The kind of things that: U go about ur daily buisness, u make decisions, make actions, use ur intelligence etc…. & survive every day & live ur life–but something (ur not sure what) seems off. U seem to be making bad decisions. U seem to be making decisions, & doing things that r totally screwing up ur life & getting u into all kinds of trouble–tons of trouble–& u can’t figure out why????!!!!

    Ur trying ur ass off, ur busting ur butt, ur killing urself working overtime on this or that–& u can’t for the life of u figure out how ur working sooo hard & trying to make good intelligent decisions but somehow everything is getting more & more screwed up!!!

    U either can’t get a job, or can’t keep a job. U never have enough money to live off of, & what little u did have doesn’t go far enough because u make bad decisions. Other people talk to u, they may even think that ur safe, that ur smart, or a decent student but u seem a little OFF to them. So their not sure that they want to really b ur friend because something about u seems a little off. Ur financially up a freaking creek–which ain’t hard to do anyway when all u got is disability!!!

    And, even worse, the things u love, the causes that u love, the things that ur trying to save or help or take care of–ur hurting, maybe even killing with ur bad choices or bad decisions.

    At any rate: when I look back at things, & all the hurt, & all the damage, it’s just too much to bare!!! It makes me feel soooo very badly!!!! I hate whatever bad decisions/choices that I made, & I REALLY HATE MYSELF!!!! I CAN’T FORGIVE MYSELF!!!!! I CAN’T EXCEPT THAT I’VE DONE WHATEVER, OR CAUSED WHATEVER; OR THAT I’M 45 & UNEMPLOYED, MY HOUSE IS FALLING APART, I’M IN FINANCIAL HOCK, ETC……………..

    I’ve gotten to a point in my life that I know something is very wrong, that something must b wrong with me–for an intelligent person, a really nice person, a honest person, a compassionate person; a fight for the animals, the planet, etc…. kind of person; a person that loves to learn & has had college learning, desperately wants her own career & her own business to have sooo many things wrong in her life; to have made so many bad decisions…………

    I don’t know a 100% sure if it’s all the BI stuff, but I do know that my life is in a mess. To make matters worse, I’ve had some tragedies lately, some loses. I have done much reading & exploring lately on TBI’s & BI’s, & PCS. I have begun exploring this avenue very heavily!!! I had even made an appt to see a doctor & talked to him about all my head injuries & all the problems that I’ve been having & that they all totally fit PCS–Post Concussion Syndrome. And, he agreed!!

    Not only did he agree, but he thought that more was wrong then even I thought. So, he sent me to a neuro–that suggested that he thought that I was having seizures, & that he believed them to be caused by the HI’s…..

    He said the fact that I lived through that horrible TBI long ago & was able to stand b4 him, walk & talk, etc….. was a miracle! And, then to add to that that I had had more head injuries since then & wasn’t dead or in some awful shape was an even bigger miracle.

    However, the way he acted while I was there & the way he came at that, & the awful way that he & his office handled things has led me to believe that he is definitely not the doctor for me!!!! Even another doctor thinks he’s off his rocker!!! So, at any rate, I have another Neuro appt… coming up this week–Thursday the 28th–to see what he thinks. He will do an EEG–most likely at another appt… & will send me for a Brain & Neck MRI, which do to me panicking when I have one I will have to be knocked out!!!

    In the mean time, I’m having a horrible time dealing with the thought of any more physical problems or limitations being added to my life!!!! If this is true, it will be the most disabling of all!!! It will take away any freedom that I have, make me a prisoner of my own home, make me even more withdrawn & isolated than I am already, & take away the career that I want rt now & take away all that I enjoy.

    Further more, if it is true, I sure as hell don’t want to put myself in the public eye & risk the fact that I may have some unexpected seizure of some kind, in front of other people–& then be further stigmatized, made fun of, & treated like even more of a freak. I won”t have any way to get anywhere. I won’t be able to take my dogs out anywhere. My life as I have & know it now will be entirely over!!!! And, all the other BI stuff won’t even matter any more!!!

    I have just had sooooo many things happen!!! I’ve had soooo many tradgedies!!!! I suffered sooooo many loses!!!!! & now this!!!!! I just feel like I can’t deal with any more!!!! & I’m angry about all that, the possibility of that & that I was stupid enough to explore all of this BI crap in the 1st place. If I hadn’t been an idiot & started exploring all this crap then I wouldn’t have got this thrown at me–and a time when I was in deep grieving!!!!!!!!! I’m sooooo damned angry for myself for going to the 1st doctor & bringing up any of this crap!!!!!

    I don’t want that to be the case–of course!!!! And, further more, I’m in no position to handle that kind of problem, that kind of news, that kind of life altering!!!!!! I simply can’t handle it!!!!!! I’ve started some therapy, but most therapist don’t have a clue–about TBI/BI, about PCS, about what the hell it’s really like to deal with it/live with it. They don’t have a clue how ur treated by society, how hard it is for u, what u have to truly deal with or live with on a daily basis, how hard it is to cope & to just hang on sometimes.

    It has never helped in the past, & I’m not convinced that it will do anything this time–but I’ve got possible life ending music news coming up & I need to talk about it with somebody!!!!!

    At any rate: I agree with all that u said!!!!! And, I’m glad that it’s here & that u said it!!! I am amazed at the amount of info on this site, & all the stories & comments from survivors!!!! It is soooo very informative!!! And, it’s great to have a place where there r other people like me, & that r exploring it all, trying to deal with it all, except it all, & cope with it all!!!! It’s like an endless well of info; & very deep insite into this horrible disability!!!

    But the info is a 2 edged sword!!! On the one had u want to know, & need to know, r driven to know!!! But, on the other hand, u don’t want to know because it is too much, too depressing………… U don’t want to know how bad off u r!!! How ur doomed to die of brain disease/s that r caused from the HI/’!!! How ur doomed to die some early death!!! How ur doomed to get some horrible other disease–like Alzheimer’s, etc…….. How ur life is permanently altered!!! How things will only get worse as u get older, or as other shit happens to u. How u will always be struggling–every day for the rest of ur life. How u can’t even face one day, one night, or one morning w/o getting up & facing all the BI stuff & all the physical, mental, & spiritual stuff that goes along with it!!!!

    It’s all too tiring, to depressing!!!! On the other hand life is constantly changing, & we all go down paths that constantly change. Amazingly, I had gotten certified in dog training & was headed toward trying to have a career in Service Dog Training. And, now may need to train my own dogs for my own disabilities.

    Well, I’ve rambled enough. I’m exhausted from my day, & from trying to deal with life throwing too much crap at me rt now, & from worrying about my upcoming appt…..

    Just thanking u, & just thinking in the process, & trying to process a ton of crap in my life!!!


  2. Check out the ebook — you don’t have to believe every word, but it’s offering some good strategies for dealing with TBI. One of the points they make is that you need real-world strategies, not just self-awareness, to make positive, lasting changes.

    Works for me.


  3. Aly –

    Trying to get better and fighting for what you need is not self-indulgent. At least, not in my book. I think more of us need to do that, and not worry about what other people have to say about it. The “neurologically intact” (if there is such a thing 😉 world doesn’t know, and often doesn’t care about the details and intricacies of brain injury, so we’re often on our own. But we’re not alone — there are millions of us out there, living each day as best we can. I think it’s great that you’re trying. A lot of people can’t/won’t.

    It is a fine line, of course, between fighting for what you need, and just plain fighting. I think there’s an art to getting what you need in the world. It sounds hokey to me, but maybe a book from the library about “how to negotiate” or “how to get what you need in a world that doesn’t give a crap” might help? Just an idea…

    Good luck!



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