8. Getting Back – Safely and Sanely

I’ve posted another chapter in my book in development “TBI S.O.S. – Restoring a Sense-Of-Self after TBI

When you decide not to give up, it makes all the difference in the world.

Maybe you never believed what people told you. Maybe it never sat right with you, and you could never bring yourself to believe that you needed to limit yourself, settle for less, make do, and get used to your “new normal”.

Maybe you come to that decision by trying to give up, and failing… by failing to allow yourself to fail. Maybe you tried to give in to the pressures, but realized it wasn’t for you.

I’m a classic case of someone who has used unsafe means to augment my Sense-Of-Self. And I believe that many – if not most – of my TBIs over the years, stemmed from an underlying unsettled Sense-Of-Self.

I pushed myself to do more than I should have, so I’d have that stress response (for example, driving long distances when dog-tired, pushing myself to go-go-go, no matter what).

I took risks specifically to go “all in” and block out everything else and numb the pain (for example, pushing myself in sports and edgy interactions with police and authority figures).

The last TBI I had totally shredded my Sense-Of-Self, to the point where I didn’t recognize myself. I didn’t know who was walking around in my skin, and I couldn’t fathom ever getting back to my “old Self”.

  • I couldn’t get my breakfast together without melting down.
  • I couldn’t read.
  • I couldn’t go outside for long walks down the roads around my home.
  • I couldn’t deal with being interrupted, without losing my cool.
  • I couldn’t learn new things – which had always been a cornerstone of my identity.
  • Calm and level-headedness were out the window – I overreacted to everything.
  • Nothing was funny. Not even close.
  • My home fell into disrepair, and I didn’t know where to start to fix anything.
  • All sense of satisfaction in things I did was gone. Nothing had any much appeal for me, I just did it by rote, because that was what was expected of me.
  • My life felt unfamiliar to me – as though I was living someone else’s life – or someone else had stepped into my skin and was going through the motions.

All these things told me that the person I knew as myself was nowhere to be found. I figured they were gone for good, my identity was erased, and the best I could hope for, was muddling through… and with any luck, not posing a direct danger to anyone else.

Read the rest of the chapter at: 8. Getting Back – Safely and Sanely

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.

2 thoughts on “8. Getting Back – Safely and Sanely”

  1. I went through a similar experience, and reading this has made we remember how a counsellor described me as “all or nothing” as well, and the way I pushed myself. I think I did it because I didn’t want to be seen as lazy and not taking an active role in attempting to get it right. But I failed over and over again, and was frightened that “this is it”, that I’d be stuck like that.

    Like you I couldn’t read, write or learn so I left pretty useless. But thankfully that has improved (as you can tell, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this). It’s really helpful you being this frank, as it helps others know they’re not alone.


  2. Thanks for writing. I’m glad you’re on the mend, and yes, I can relate to really pushing and pushing to get back. I overlooked the important piece about resting and recuperating. When I started giving myself the chance to rest and mend, I started to see even more progress. But I still think I was right to push on , in the first place. Best of luck to you in your continued recovery.

    Liked by 1 person

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