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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.
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5 thoughts on “Everything is possible”
Welllll….as you know I don’t use the word recovery, I prefer the word rebuilding. I don’t think ANYTHING is possible – I think that there are realistic ‘limits’ for any person for certain things – and that acknowledging that and using that to empower yourself can be more liberating than chasing impossible dreams. I just talked to someone this morning who is indeed a miracle in terms of how functional and capable they are after a very very severe brain injury that should have killed them – but I also could see that they were brilliant at deflecting awareness of issues that they had.
These issues that would impact their ability to do certain things – but do not mean necessarily that they cannot be productive, self reliant, fulfilled, happy etc. But they cannot acknowledge that there are limitations in one area so they don’t explore any others – and the loss is theirs.
Awareness of a ‘deficit’ is not defeat – if you can’t read you cannot work as an editor, even if you used to be one. So you have to realize that and then see how much you can rebuild those skills – maybe you can’t rebuild it enough to be a top notch editor again but you can re-direct those skills into another job function – perhaps tutoring or teaching or freelancing where you can control the work load.
Chasing after being who you once were can be pointless – but people often do it because they have no other star to navigate by. Sometimes its helpful to to simply to enable you to recognize just what is different.
I agree that this is a weakness on rehab – they don’t try to help you maximize yourself, to learn to self-assess and rebuild, they make the assumption that what is now will always be – and that they need to protect you from yourself. I am all about failure – learning to see mistakes, ‘failures’ etc as the path back to having true quality of life. That is how you learned it all before and it’s the only way. Rehab does nothing to teach you about failure, they do nothing to teach you about reintegrating into the community, about managing socialization – which is CRITICAL in work, play, etc. They just focus on survive and then thats it. It is a medical model not a life model.
I don’t buy the happy huggy nonesense – the world is harsh and unforgiving, and getting more so – its is NOT a matter of pull yourself up by your bootstraps or yes we can.
Ugh – I am getting so grumpy.
hi i nominated your blog here http://lifeshappyrants.wordpress.com/2012/04/03/awards-d/ 🙂 thanks for sharing this, ❤
Okay, here’s my point of view — after multiple childhood TBIs, I grew up surrounded by people who saw me through a lens that told them I was a useless waste, that whatever redeeming qualities I seemed to have would soon be proved wrong, that whatever I set out to do, I’d screw up… that whatever hopes and plans I had were for naught. To this day, my family treats me like I’m a “retard” and they are always jumping in to “help” me to do things I’m perfectly capable of doing myself… even if it’s not as “perfect” as they expect me to. They’re always on alert to warn me away from taking chances… to keep me from doing “dangerous” things — the kinds of things that have actually been fun, eventful, and highly educational. If I had listened to them and their extremely limiting messages, I would probably not have the life I do today. And I’d probably be bored out of my skull.
As for people who can’t see their limitations, who among us isn’t a bit in denial about our drawbacks? For some of us, it actually helps. Who’s to say we’d be any happier or more satisfied, if we did know about all the stuff we can’t do properly? I get that we all need to adjust. Sure, that’s true. But for me, to discover and experience over *decades* that all those limiting messages were just that — messages, not facts — was in a word, life-saving.
And I would never want anyone else in my situation to miss out on that.
IT’s probably an issue of semantics – and I see a vast population of folks with a range of issues – the problems of many with BI are not just ‘issues’ – they are serious impairments to having quality of life and they don’t see them – yet, with just a little modification they can have exactly what they seek. Additionally some people can truly make themselves worse off by trying to chase after things that don’t work – that is true even for people without BI as well.
Your situation is in part a refutation of the messages that you got from others because you are a different thinker and yet you listened to them. Your path may be the correct one, it may be that you have always drawn yourself to this path because ultimately you are better at this but you just lacked the self esteem to succeed. Having a resource (your neuropsych) and some tools changes that for you and empowered you to see yourself differently. That is also part of BI – learning to be empowered for what works for you.
Letting go of things that don’t work is healthy for anyone. Sometimes they don’t work because we have changed – cognitively, spiritually, emotionally, physically or whatever. And its forward on.