Still more quick responses to loaded TBI questions

What lies within...

This continues my little series of quick answers to queries people have entered into search engines to get here. You can read the previous posts here:


  1. tbi+sympathetic – The sympathetic nervous system is a wonder of nature. It’s what keeps us alive and safe from mortal danger. It’s the fight-flight-freeze system that is triggered by some sort of threat. When it’s balanced, it’s very useful. When it gets jammed in gear and is constantly engaged — like with PTSD or a lifestyle filled with constant excitement — it can really do a number on your central nervous system as a whole. I’ve written about this pretty extensively in A Perilous Relief, which talks specifically about how our sympathetic nervous system can do a number on us. See especially Wired to Survive and When Survival Backfires. The important thing to keep in mind is that trauma can really do a number on your sympathetic nervous system, keeping you constantly “on” in a perpetual state of vigilance. With TBI, that “on” doesn’t just happen because of an initial injury — it happens because you can end up having one mess after another happen, thanks to the TBI, and that can keep you on perpetual alert. Personally, I think this is why TBI tends to get worse over time. It’s not the initial injury that’s always the problem — it’s the problems that arise from the injury over time, and the way our minds and our bodies process those events, that does a number on us.
  2. tbi sleep – TBI can make you want to sleep all the time. It can also keep you up or keep you from staying asleep. TBI and sleep do not always go together. I have had to make some significant changes to my life in the past years, because of my fatigue levels. I have started taking mid-day naps, and that has made all the difference in the world. When I nap during the day, I am much less likely to eat junk food, veg out at work instead of working, procrastinate, and do all the things that get me in trouble. It also makes it possible for me to end the day without being completely exhausted.
  3. mild tbi recovery – Don’t let the “mild” fool you. The original injury may not have been that dramatic from the outside, but the ongoing consequences of it can be a real challenge. Recovery from mTBI is probably one of the most challenging — and most necessary — things you can do in your life. But you’ve got to make the effort. Because the after-effects can wreak havoc with your personal, professional, financial, physical, emotional, and mental life and trash everything you have — for no apparent reason. It is well worth the time and effort to learn all you can about it and do all you can to further your recovery.
  4. tbi student point of view – Either a student sustained a TBI, or a student is studying TBI. If you’re studying TBI, I certainly hope you don’t get caught up in the school of thought that says “You have to give up on living your life, after TBI, because you’ll never be the same.” The thing is, over the course of our lives none of us stays the same. Ever. Treating TBI as yet another life change — like marriage or the birth of a child or the death of a loved one — which demands new learning and new skills and tests your limits, is a whole lot more helpful than scaling back your expectations in life and deciding you’ll never be 100% again. 100% of what? When are any of us ever 100% of anything? Times change. People change. So what? Live your life.
  5. tbi and psychosis – Uh, yeah. It happens. I think (though I’m not a medical professional) that there are several reasons for this — brain chemistry may change because of TBI, and also the added stressors of life after TBI can set people off. Obviously, if a brain is injured… and if it undergoes the kinds of degeneration that we see with professional football and hockey players… there may be complications. It’s my sense that additional stress of living with an injured brain (without proper help and adjustments to how you do things) doesn’t help and may contribute to degeneration. But I’m no expert. Especially when it comes to psychosis.
  6. what is the worst pain you can have from a tbi – Take your pick. Migraines. Crippling body pain. Photosensitivity that makes sunlight feel like it’s a knife cutting through your brain. Sensitivity to noise that makes your head feel like it’s going to explode when you hear certain frequencies. My favorite is tactile sensitivity, where anything that touches my skin feels like it’s burning and ripping the flesh from my bones. My forearms are especially sensitive. Now, come to think of it, I’m not sure that TBI is the source of the tactile issues, but considering that I’ve had the issue as long as I’ve had other TBI issues, I haven’t been able to separate them out.
  7. activities to do with friend recovering from tbi – Do things that are FUN! And that they can do without putting themself in harm’s way or screwing up and feeling like a retard. The important thing is to not over-do it. Fatigue is a major buzz-kill, and even the most enjoyable activity can rapidly become hell when your system is on overload and you start to melt down. It might be a good idea to start out small and build up as you go on. Rent a movie on DVD that you can pause or stop if they get worn out. Go for a drive, and then go home and take a nap. It’s often a good idea to plan around rest times, or do things in places where you can step away and take a break if things get too overwhelming or they need to catch their breath.
  8. head trauma and anger issues – I’ve written about this a lot. Visit to see a variety of posts.
  9. mental illness and head trauma injuries – See #5 above.
  10. confabulation head trauma – This is a major pain. See Growing up with TBI – The Confabulation Kid. The worst thing about confabulation — getting turned around and confused about details without knowing it and combining different ideas in ways that don’t make sense to anyone but you — is not only embarrassing, but a logistical nightmare. Seriously. When you are “100% sure” of something, but it turns out you’re 100% wrong… and it happens over and over again… you can’t help but doubt yourself and wonder if there isn’t something seriously wrong with you.
  11. sensitivity to light after head trauma – This happens. It’s a pain. Wear sunglasses whenever you need to. Don’t worry about what other people think. Irlen lenses may help.
  12. difference between a concussion and a brain injury – The way I understand it, concussion is a brain injury — but the majority of them clear up after a time. Sometimes days, sometimes weeks. A traumatic brain injury is more lasting — post-concussion syndrome is often used to describe it, probably because the expression “brain injury” freaks people out.
  13. traumatic brain injury and mental illness – See #5 above.
  14. after a traumatic brain injury you are a different person – Yes, this happens. It’s happened to me several times. And frankly, I do miss the “old” me — the me that used to be so quick with picking up new things, the me that used to not question every single thing I do, the me that used to be so even-keeled and steady. But we all go through changes, and we all become different people over time. Think back 10 years ago — were you the same person then that you are now? If so, I worry about you. We all evolve. And we all have crap happen to us. The trick — for me — is figuring out how to make it work in your favor. It’s not always easy, and sometimes the best you can do is just make it work somehow. But if you get stuck in trying to go back to how you were, you can waste a lot of time, and also miss out on the new person you can become.
  15. aggression and traumatic brain injury – This happens. A lot. Aggression can happen because a person is tired, feeling threatened by someone or something, their impulse control is shot, they have a chemical imbalance, or they just don’t realize how they’re being. I have found it helpful to “head it off at the pass” by staying reasonably rested, doing positive reinforcement for myself (“Yes, I can do this…” “No, I am not an idiot)), and learning to step away when I am beside myself. I can get extremely aggressive with people, if I’m not careful. Times of fatigue and confusion are particularly challenging, so I’ve tried to keep an eye out for them and either prevent them from occurring, or do damage control by walking away. My spouse has also learned not to keep at me, when I am “in a state” — that just makes things worse for everyone.
  16. “traumatic brain injury” and verbal abuse – see #15 above. Please remember, you don’t need to live a life of verbal abuse just because your loved one has had a TBI. Do they even know they’re being verbally abusive? I didn’t, until my spouse told me I was.
  17. history of traumatic brain injury and anger problems – See above
  18. brain injury and constant complaining moaning – This can happen. The TBI survivor may have been a whiner before, and their TBI made it worse. Or they may have developed this trait after the injury. Some people become impossible complainers after TBI — they may feel like there’s nothing they can do about the situations in their life, so all they can do is complain. Personally, I can’t stand complainers and people who moan and bitch all the time. But I’ve done my fair share, so I’m not one to cast stones.
  19. career change after brain injury – May be necessary. If you used to do work that required a lot of eye-hand coordination, and now your abilities are lost, you probably need to look for other options. I had to make a career change, but fortunately I was able to actually move up — out of pure programming work and into more project management type work. It suits me better now. Remember, just because you have to change careers, doesn’t mean you have to be set back. You might actually be able to move ahead.
  20. can a brain injury make you crazy – Yes. In more ways than one. But it doesn’t have to. Most of all, it can make you feel like you’re crazy, when you’re really not. Just tired and turned around and moving too quickly.

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 “Still more quick responses to loaded TBI questions”

  1. I really enjoyed reading this, do you have anything else I could read. You wrote everything that I feel. Thank you, Sara


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