Trauma from traumatic brain injury is about more than what caused the injury.
Life after TBI (or other brain injuries) is traumatic all around. And the stress of living with yourself after TBI, can be like a river cutting a canyon into the earth, one bad experience at a time.
If you really want to help, you have to factor in the stresses that come with TBI.
You need to understand how traumatic it is to deal with the changes of a brain injury — the changes to how you process information, how you react to that information, how you interact with others, and how that compares with who you knew yourself to be, before.
You also need to understand how traumatic those changes are — what a threat they pose to your identity, your sense of self.
You need to “get” that the trauma builds up and can overwhelm an already taxed system. And if it is not cleared by things like exercise, good nutrition, some sort of self-help routine like meditation or mindfulness, and regular interaction with strong social supports, it can — and will — erode a person’s ability to function over time.
The other thing it’s important to realize is that while the Grand Canyon may always be there, you don’t have to stay in the bottom. The effect of the damage is fixable — it’s even reversible. No matter how far down a person has gone, it is always possible to help them rise back up. They don’t have to stay at the bottom of that gulch. They can climb out of that canyon and find firm footing again.
The human system is built to rise from the ashes, to re-wire its circuits, and find ways to become fully human… even if your sense of human-ness seemed to be long gone.
I have been caught in my own canyons many times. And I have climbed out of them, repeatedly. I have rebuilt my system, seemingly from the ground up, many times over in the course of my 50 years on earth, and I know from personal experience how impossible it can feel.
I also know from personal experience, how possible it really is to get up and out of The Pit.
But before you can do that, you need to understand that what’s pulling you down is very, very real, and it needs to be accepted as “a thing” and addressed directly.
Avoiding the trauma aspects of traumatic brain injury is a mistake. But it’s also reversible. And you have to do it in the right way, in the right sequence, with much sensitivity and intuition, not to mention common sense.
More on this later. Must get to work. But this is important. For all of us.