What she said… about never giving up

Over at Unsolicited Advice, this wonderful pearl of wisdom about TBI survivors:

What these men, women, and children need is for us to believe in them. They need for us to know that they can recover. Obviously, there are varying levels of severity among brain injuries, but most patients can see at least some improvement if they work at it.

If someone feels like everyone has given up on him, he often stops trying. This is a very dangerous situation for a brain-injured person; because of the brain’s amazing plasticity, it seems that the more a person does, the more he can do.

We must expect that brain-injured persons will recover, at least to some degree, rather than telling them they will never function again. We must talk to them as though they are still people, even if they don’t understand what we are saying at this moment. We must respect them and remember that their stories began long before the injury. They had a life full of promise, just like the rest of us, and can again; but they need our help. We cannot give up on the brain-injured community!

I’ll second that.

I’ve been stewing over my worsening experiences in therapy, today. The day has been a productive one, and I’ve made tremendous progress with tasks I started earlier in the week and struggled with for several days. But in the back of my mind has been lurking this simmering frustration over my psychotherapist’s apparent decision that I’m too impaired to be repaired.

Please note, I am very wary of this being the impending holidays approaching that’s mucking with my head. The holidays are often difficult for everyone, psychotherapists included (I would think, especially them, because they have to serve a client base that’s even more in need of help that most people — and even the most “regular” amongst us gets a little squirrelly at this time of year).

But when I think back on the exchanges I’ve had with them, it hasn’t just been the past few weeks that have rendered comments that suggested I wasn’t up to the task of doing my job, or advancing my career, or sustaining my marriage, or keeping my house, or having the standard of living that I am accustomed to. Those comments have been peppered throughout our conversations, and I think it’s finally just reached a breaking point with me. It could be that, rather than being a burdensome strain on me that’s taxing my ability to reason, the holidays are actually clarifying a lot for me and bringing into very clear focus what I will and will not tolerate in my life.

Being dismissed and diminished by someone who doesn’t seem to want to really get to know me or listen to what I have to say, is not the kind of experience I want to continue in my life. It’s just so debilitating. And it makes you want to give up. Just going through a 50-minute session with my shrink, who winds up the time trying to get me to accept that I’m just not good enough, anymore, is enough to make me want to crawl under a rock.

But I’m not going to do that. I’m going to buckle down and work all the harder. I’m going to follow through and make good on my promise. I’m going to do everything in my power — head injury and all — to live up to my potential.

And so I think about what this woman wrote, and I am comforted that at least one person in the world (other than my neuropsych) can see what we need, and is willing to offer it to us.

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 “What she said… about never giving up”

  1. Hi BB,

    From what you say, you have excellent reasons for dumping this therapist. I have made the mistake myself of hanging on to a psychiatrist who was doing me no good and who didn’t think I could recover – it doesn’t get better with them. I wish I’d left them sooner.

    You deserve someone who can help. Someone who is discouraging – what on earth is the use of seeing him? For money or for free, he is no good.

    Hope you find someone else soon who is helpful to you.

    Ellen

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  2. Firstly, thanks so much for reading and for your support!

    It’s a travesty that you have been discounted by the very people that are supposed to believe in you the most. My husband had similar experiences; he actually had a speech therapist tell him that if he hadn’t fully recovered within one year, he never would.

    You are right to buckle down and keep working… it WILL pay off. I commend you for your drive and determination!! Trust me, it will serve you well in your recovery.

    I’ve watched my husband start completely over, from scratch, having to learn everything from walking, to eating, to brushing his teeth, talking, using the bathroom, and who I was, as if he was a baby in a grown man’s body. What got him through it? He never stopped working, and we never stopped encouraging him.

    We support you!

    Jess

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  3. Thanks very much Jess!

    I do appreciate your support! I hope you blog A LOT about your beliefs and experiences. We really need folks like you. I will definitely be back to visit your blog!

    I’m very blessed to have a lot of people in my life who believe in me unconditionally — of course, it gets to be a bit of a problem, when they don’t see or believe that I’ve got the challenges I do… and they don’t factor in the extra work I have to do to get by. There’s a special kind of education that I’ve gotten, when it comes to working with my non-tbi-savvy support network — how I should identify what I need from them to get by, without bombarding them with all this extra information about tbi stuff they cannot see (and that really puts them off because they care about me, and they don’t have enough information about tbi and how we CAN recover from it).

    It’s fine line we walk, both as survivors and support folks. I also have friends who have sustained head injuries, but they don’t make a point of dealing with their injuries as such. I have learned a lot about how to support them, through figuring out what I need in terms of support from others.

    You know — it’s not uncommon for people to have to start completely over from scratch. People get divorced after decades with someone. They also experience financial losses they have to battle back from. They lose people and jobs and homes and possessions they love and depend on… and then they work their way back into regular life again. For me, recovering from TBI is not that different — it’s a significant loss that threatens our very being, but with time and effort and determination and balance and support, we can get ourselves back into the swing of things.

    I think we just have so much we still have to learn about the brain — but the learning probably best comes from personal experience, rather than books or a classroom. And people sharing their stories and experiences and learning can go a long way towards helping others.

    Like I said, I do hope you blog a lot about this. There is a vast population of support folks, friends, and family (as I’m sure you’re well aware) who are struggling daily with the challenges you — and I — face… and overcome.

    Congrats on your BIA involvement. God bless.

    BB

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  4. Thanks Ellen –

    Yeah, it is pretty bizarre to come out of therapy each week, feeling worse than when I went in!

    Some days, I’ve shown up really excited about some advancement or discovery I made, and I got the wind knocked out of my sails, because the root cause of my problems is supposed to be debilitating(?)

    You know what? I don’t buy it. I don’t buy the hype about once-you’re-brain-injured-that’s-the-end-of-the-story-buddy. I don’t buy the line(s) about how repeated concussions have successively impaired me to the point of rendering me incapable of thinking for myself. How many people out there have had tons of knocks to the head, yet are still walking around in the world (with varying degrees of success) and not being treated any less respectfully… simply because no one knows they got clunked in the head a bunch of times?

    Disclosing your injuries should not lead to disqualification from life, yet this is exactly what I feel is happening with this therapist.

    I really just need to cut my losses with them. It’s just not working out. My main concern, at this point, is just getting through Thanksgiving without melting down and with being able to relate to my parents (and very elderly grandparents) in a positive and constructive way. That’s my measure of success, and spending a ton of time thinking about how to deal with this therapist is taking up too much energy.

    That, in itself, is a warning sign. So, yeah, it’s time to move on. I want to be smart and responsible in how I do it — not just dump them without an explanation or get really worked up over the conversation. I want to be sane and stable and as adult-like as humanly possible. And I want to keep my dignity. They’ve done enough to erode that, and it’s time I took it back.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you

    BB

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