Getting back that Sense-of-Self

stones-bambooIt’s an amazingly beautiful day today. I didn’t get enough sleep, last night, and I’m feeling foggy and a little ill, but nonetheless, the outdoors awaits.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I got my Sense-of-Self back. It has been back for at least a year, now. After feeling like a stranger in my own skin for years and years, I finally feel like me again.

How did this happen?

I think  it’s really been about habit. Developing good routines I can do, every single day, and also developing the discipline to follow through with things. It’s been difficult, but it’s been worth it.

As an example, this morning I took care of a Sunday task that I often leave until the end of the day. It drags me down all day, filling my mind with dread, and sapping my energy. But it needs to get done, every single week. No exceptions. So, this morning after my breakfast, I just sat down and did it. I spent maybe 20 minutes on it, following a series of somewhat complicated steps that have to be done in a specific order. I mess them up, now and then, but this morning I was totally focused on them. And I got them all done in good order.

And by 8:00 a.m. I was done with that, and ready for the rest of my day. I felt so fantastic, I was trotting around the house, and my spouse wondered why I was so chipper.

It’s because I did that unavoidable task exactly the way it was supposed to be done. I followed my own detailed instructions. I did my weekly duty. And the successful and smooth completion of it all left me feeling with a real sense of accomplishment, as well as a renewed sense of myself as a capable and … well, good human being.

I firmly believe that TBI robs us of a Sense-Of-Self by changing our internal reactions and our long-familiar capabilities, and thus making us into someone we don’t recognize. Even the slightest of changes in our accustomed inner experience of life can make us feel like a stranger to ourselves.

But when we re-learn how to do things, and we grow accustomed to the experiences we’re having with them — when those experiences become familiar to us again, just as our old experiences were — we can once again recognize ourselves… and get on with our lives as the capable people we once knew ourselves to be.

TBI recovery is very much about re-acquainting yourself with yourself. It might be a whole new you, in some ways, but it’s still you.

You just need to learn to recognize yourself.


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.

8 thoughts on “Getting back that Sense-of-Self”

  1. Hey You!

    First, congratulations! Second, you are so right.

    I’m not sure if you know, but I’m in the midst of a horrible TBI. This time, it’s from the inside out. A joke I make from not bashing my head against something like a brick wall due to having epilepsy. Actually, a remnant of what everyone thought was a Stroke.

    Working diagnosis is continuing migraines. I’m now taking Propranolol. And wearing sunglasses over my glasses for evil non-stop photophobia. That’s a really comfy thing to do. Yay, blisters!

    I become so stupidly debilitated, I stare at the mountain of dishes in my sink with utter contempt.

    However, Safety First. If you have a TBI, you can slice yourself to bits even if you’re wearing rubber gloves. Your motor skills can be tossed out the window. Ditto with showering.

    Then you can become completely depressed, even more depressed, because you feel filthy. Now, a bath seem insurmountable.

    And on it goes… Just as this Post reads.

    But it IS true. I would even extend this to the Mental Health Community as well.

    I’ve done it. No matter what, no matter how small. You will be amazed at what a lift it will give you.

    I know I feel awesome when I wash my bloody dishes! Maybe I will (very carefully) today after reading this.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks for writing. I’m really sorry to hear about the recent brain injury. It is pretty horrible, and I’m sorry you have to go through it. I always though that “photophobia” is a terrible word for what it is. We’re not afraid of light — it’s physically painful. Calling it a phobia diminishes it and makes it sound like it’s in our heads. That’s not helpful.

    I hope you can find a way back… and get some routine in your life, so you can master even the simple things. It’s those that always trip me up.

    Thanks again for writing. I hope you’re having good weather where you are.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I feel like I’ve lived ABI for so long I don’t remember who I am anymore. All the other things that defined my existence a distant memory. It’s a new me I’m trying to find now. Nice work!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You know, I was thinking about the word “photophobia” and what you said about it. They also use “photosensitive.” Now what can we say about THAT one?

    Oh, I love you, such bright light that makes my eyes feel like spears are piercing them. Please, please don’t ever leave me.

    Sarcasm over.

    However, my sarcasm will NEVER be over. You do have to laugh at whatever’s doing you in as much as you can. Otherwise, it WILL do you in!

    So let’s laugh at some other things that have given me the boots lately as well.

    I fell so was concussed for a few days. But that didn’t matter so much (except the egg sticking out) because I was doing a med increase.

    Pretty young, but going through menopause. I’d look at a light switch and cry. Up Lamictal.

    Not quite doing it. ADD Madness and fighting for an increase for years of my Biphentin. Mentioned to Psychiatrist Stims can also work as Antidepressants at times.

    Ding! Just started taking the higher dose and I think we’re onto something–on both fronts. We’ll see when I’m stable.

    So, my head’s been in a blender for quite a while. However, between the increases and starting Propranolol, my brain has been “feeling” good.

    Propranolol put my in a Heroin-like state. I’ve never done it, but talked to people who have, and asked what it was like for them.

    For me, it was like starting it made me climb an Opiate Ladder. Demerol, Morphine, then Heroin.

    Utterly fascinating what it did and how I felt. It definitely made me understand why so many people could easily become addicted to it.

    Best side effect from starting and titrating at med ever, though. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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