Type A Personality with a TBI? You’re a GREAT candidate for recovery – Part 1

rat-brain-dendridic-changes
If rat brains can change, due to environmental enrichment, so can ours — click to read about helping with stroke (which also applies to other sorts of brain injury)

I’m pretty much of a Type A person — although my competitive streak targets myself, rather than others.

Wait, no… I do instinctively compete against others, as well.

I must admit, I’m happiest when I’m Alpha. This is not in a mean-spirited way or in a way that is driven to destroy everyone around me. I’m just happiest when I’m at the top of my game, and the person I compete against most, is myself.

Anyway, I believe that Type A personalities have a special proclivity to TBI / concussion, because we push it. We take chances. We test the limits of the envelope. And we do it with a single-minded focus that blocks out all dangers… sometimes till it’s too late to protect ourselves.

And then we can get hurt. Frequently. We can end up with persistent symptoms, because on top of getting hurt, we haven’t taken time out to rest, and that concussion / TBI is telling us to keep going at an even faster pace.

See, that’s the thing with concussion / mild TBI — all those chemicals released in the injured brain are inciting an organic fight-flight response that impels us to go-go-go. I personally believe that response is due to an evolutionary advantage that preserved the human race over the ages. Once upon a time, when everyday life was a lot more physically dangerous than it is today, our brains had to evolve to get us up and out of dangerous situation ASAP. And those who didn’t adapt to switch into get-the-hell-going hyperdrive, ended up stuck at the bottom of the pile of rubble. Or they got the rest of their body chopped in half by that sword-wielding opponent who gave them a whack the first time.

Back in the day, being overrun by invaders, going to war with hand-to-hand combat, being charged by a predator, and extracting yourself and your loved ones from a natural disaster were all more frequent than they are today. And those whose brains got them UP and OUT — who kicked into GO-GO-GO-GO!!! action, got to live to see another day. I’m no evolutionary biologist, but I suspect that those whose instincts did not get them moving ASAP probably died out a long time ago.

So, small wonder that when you get hit on the head, your brain/body drives you on and on and on, without any apparent reason. The brain is trying to get away from danger. The only problem is, the danger is inside the skull. And there’s no escaping that.

Anyway, in terms of being a Type A personality, we can really harness that drive, that ambition, that impetus, to recover from our injuries. Even if you can’t get access to a neuropsychologist to consult with, there are a number of other options available. Of course, part of the problem is that there are so many options, and not all of them are reliable or credible. Concussion has turned into big business, and there are plenty of people ready and willing to make a ton of money off it. But not all of them know what the hell they’re talking about. As long as they sound authoritative, that’s all that matters to some people.

So, what do you do and where do you turn?

I think a good place to took, is to other folks who have experienced successful recoveries from concussion / TBI. There are books out there, along with blogs. Unfortunately, the discussion can often drift towards commiseration, rather than remediation. People want to be supported and know that they’re not alone. Of course they do. We all do – including me. Unfortunately, a lot of times (and I’m guilty of this), the discussion ends up mired in detailing all the issues, rather than how to fix them.

Now and then, though, you can come across stories of success and triumph. Here’s one paper about success stories you may like. Models of Exceptional Adaptation in Recovery After Traumatic Brain Injury: A Case Series (click to download the PDF). It shows quite clearly that recovery after brain injury is possible, and it’s not a death sentence.

No matter what others say.

This discussion to be continued – click here to read on…

Here are the materials I downloaded in 2010, which you may find useful:

 

 

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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.

13 thoughts on “Type A Personality with a TBI? You’re a GREAT candidate for recovery – Part 1”

  1. Commiseration versus remediation – so very true. As a former psychotherapist 2 years into a brain injury, I can say that in practice with clients, we had no idea what to do in terms of remediation, because we were taught the brain was static. Untrue, as we know now. So commiseration, and completely inadequate but well intentioned support was what we had to offer, even as the brain imaging and psychotherapy moved forward, because doctors, at least where I am, were saying (and still are to me) that after 2 years, you are done any possible healing, so anything else is all malingering or in your head (Yes, it is, literally). As a person with a mTBI, I have a great many resources that I do not feel capable of accessing and cannot seem to find motivation to figure out my remediation path. And if I don’t do it, no one else will, or at least are not. I do suck at asking for help. Commiseration does abound, and it doesn’t really help in the moving forward if it stays at that level.

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  2. Okay, now I have some more energy. Got a fully night’s sleep, and I’m ready for the week! I’m sorry to hear people are being this way with you. I’ve got some books for you to check out (if you can read books, of course, which I could not for a number of years after my TBI in 2004 – thankfully, that ability has been restored). “The Brain that Changes Itself” by Norman Doidge (he has another one out about the brain’s way of healing, but I have not read it – though it might be very, very good). “The Ghost In My Brain” which is about how a college professor recovered from an intense TBI… 8 years after his accident. I also recommend you do some research online for “TBI recovery” and check out the scholarly articles. I have been reading scholarly articles for years — not because I understand everything that’s in them (I miss a lot, though I am getting better), but because of the abstracts at the beginning, the complex language in the middle, and the discussions at the end. I have found this very good for my gist reasoning – I’ll write more about that in a later post, because I’m realizing that this is one of the major “ingredients” in my successful recovery. Even if you just scan the bulk of the articles, simply finding them online (using your powers of observation) and then reading the abstracts can be really helpful. Also, there’s a lot of new research coming out.

    Don’t listen to the people who tell you your recovery “window” is closed. They’re wrong. So very, very wrong. As much as you can, avoid those kinds of conversations with those kinds of people. It messes with your head. Oh, and also check out the following:

    Here are some materials from Give Back I downloaded in 2010, which have been very, very helpful to me:

    Models of Exceptional Adaptation in Recovery After Traumatic Brain Injury: A Case Series – https://brokenbrilliant.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/models.pdf
    Give Back – TBI Self-Therapy Guide – https://brokenbrilliant.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/self-therapy.pdf

    Good luck and keep going – your brain needs you to hang in there and retrain it, so you can both live happily ever after together.

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  3. One irony is that I was into brain things before I got the TBI – so already had the Doidge but never read it. And the Ghost in my Brain I just got, but can’t read yet, so I gave it to my Vision Therapist so she can give me the gist. I read journal articles when I was researching for my thesis, and I think that is the way to go, which I hadn’t thought of. I also need to not try reading complex things when I am already tired. The Give Back looks great – I actually looked at it when I first posted here, and was thinking about making a program for myself, then I forgot. This writing things down, I need to do it… And thanks for the info. Really great page!

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  4. I meant I read journal articles the way you suggest. Abstracts give so much information, and sometimes that is all you can have access to anyway.

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  5. That is ironic… The Ghost In My Brain got a little “dense” in places, as the author is an artificial intelligence professor, and his expertise comes through, loud and clear. I skipped whole sections, because I got lost. But I picked up enough to know it’s a really useful collection of information.

    Making a program for yourself sounds like a great idea – sometimes we know best, the ways in which we need to improve. At the same time, we can have massive blind spots – and that’s where others’ help comes in.

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  6. As long as “they sound authoritative that’s all that matters”. Exactly, that’s all that matters to everyone but the survivor. It may matter to the survivor in the beginning, but the time comes when the survivor sometimes unconsciously learns, that he has been sold a bill of goods. (is that the expression? Those words look funny.) But you understand me. A person in my life that lives under me, comes from a family of doctors. She’s good for a guy like me, but this being impressed by authoritative sounding people and vocal people only, feels wrong. TBI and PTSD does come with “treasures in the trauma” as my therapist says. After you come back from losing so much so many times, you see the value in quiet people and people who re not trying to fix everything and thinking they know exactly what they are doing. You see the harm that those with all the answers can present. As a TBI and PTSD survivor, I’ve learned to feel calm with not knowing. People who know make me nervous. Unless they are in their teens or 20’s, they usually get to me. I need to work on observing not absorbing these people who KNOW what it is like with MTBI PTSD or Autistic syndromes. And I wish that a patient could choose to check a “I willfully give up my right to sue my doctor”. I’m aware that at this time it would not admissible in court but it should be. and a choice. I think that the fear of lawsuits led doctors to understandably worry about looking harder at my case and admitting bad moves. Unfortunately, they did not know that feel empathetic toward them. People say I’m crazy to feel like this. But when you know that docs care and try for so long with you and miss the mark to a very confusing problem. In a strange way, I felt bad as their actions seemed so wrong in the final days of treatment. My feeling empathy for them after I told them off in a fog of frustration was not a lack of self-esteem. I wonder how many kids with dyslexia may I have lectured for not trying hard enough and/or failed in my English class. One two or three? TBI survivors are often the one, two or three. It is not that I’m not a fighter. Or that I’m not very pissed off. But I’m just more sad and disappointed. Yes, real change in this area can not happen without passion. And I owe it to the soldiers and those who don’t have the level of pre-functioning in the area of articulation that I can make use of today. I owe it to the people who are decent people trying to make sense of their world and to be a valuable citizen however they define it, I owe it to them, to comment and support BB blog and encourage him on his book. Two years ago, I had a plan to walk the country with my batting helmet and give out materials pitting attention to this area, I was going to have the Cleveland TV network get my attention. Being a victim of assaults, I did not feel comfortable doing alone. I had a friend in the marines who I offered half my small pension to walk with me. He thought that I was nuts. I was on crutches at the time due to a hip injury. This marine was one of the only people who helped me make it through with so much raw encouragement. He brought me pamphlets on PBA (?). We read the bible together. The people at the church thought that it was so nice how i was helping Mike. They had it all wrong Mike was helping me. He knew that I had these spells when I would wake up crying and with a pressure that made me yell. He really cared. He cared and helped me more than anyone in a way that demonstrated true empathy. I’m not an idiot I have PTSD/Brain injury issues. I can’t always know at the time or follow certain things. But I can eventually know who cares and who gives lip service and even those who secretly think I’m a liar or a weak guy. I do understand that there is a therapeutic value when the doc can put a patient at ease by talking with authority. And I do believe that docs, even the one in the Norman Rockwell portrait, are getting a worse deal these days. The new age docs roll with it because it’s what they know but they are getting sold out too by big business. I actually feel for docs especially some old school ones who really care about the individual patient. Not the “male” patient but the man. But docs need to be schooled more in the area of PTSD and TBI subtle yet debilitating effects. And given the huge ego of the majority that I have met, they’ll be damned if they let a low-life, “arrogant” with an “imaginary” problem school them. Enter BB. Peace To all. Luka.

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  7. It is a strange situation, is it not, that we can feel so much compassion for the very people who make our lives so difficult? But those of us who know what it is to be so human and so vulnerable – taking one stab in the dark after another – are perhaps in the best of situations to understand the limitations of experts. It makes it that much easier to stay away…

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