Wanting to die after TBI…

Just a quick note – I checked my blog stats earlier and found that someone found their way to this blog with the search “want to die after TBI”.

For everyone who has ever felt that way, you are not alone. I have felt that way myself, many times. I felt that way last weekend during my meltdown — what was WRONG with me? everything was messed up, and I couldn’t seem to figure out a way out of it. I really wanted to just stop existing, just to ease the pain and stop suffering. In the past, before I learned what it could do to me, I used to bang my head until the pain stopped, the confusion stopped, and I could get some relief.

Then I learned about TBI and realized that the “solution” was probably contributing to my problems. So I stopped.

The thing to keep in mind when things are so rough — and I had this very clearly in my mind, last weekend — is that things change. Things become different with time. And my perception of them being worthy of not-existing-anymore is only that — a perception, which will change. Even when I was most desperate, feeling like I was in the claws of a gigantic beast that was tearing my guts out, I had the very clear knowledge that this was just my perception — and the feelings were not real. Even though I felt like I wanted to die, I was never close to acting on it.

Because I knew this would change. I knew my desperation would ease over time. I knew that I would come out of the dark place in one piece, even if it took a while, and I would learn from it. And grow. And get better.

I never felt like I was not going to get better. Because I know something else is true. I know that things do get better. They change. They get different. And that knowledge was what I held onto, when I felt at my lowest.

I’m not going to say “suicide is not an option” for anybody else. Who am I to judge? But I will say it for myself. There’s really no point. Because the minute I stop living, that’s the minute I stop having a chance to change. And because I know and feel and believe with all my heart that I cannot help but change — I’m human, after all — ending my life makes no sense, and it’s not an option for me.

I’ve got plenty more living to do, and I have no intention of cutting that short by my own hand. I know things change. I know that I change. And I know that I am able to make the kinds of choices that are required, in moving from a rough place to a better place. I’ve done it before, and I’ll do it again.

It’s perfectly understandable, to want to die after TBI. But in my own personal case, it makes no sense to follow through.

Now, back to my day.

Finally someone comes out and says it

Watching the discussion about Junior Seau’s too-early death, I came across an excellent article in the LA Times Junior Seau’s position exacerbated his condition, former NFL player says

In the midst of all the talk about concussion and how much damage it can do, I have yet to hear anyone (other than myself) talk about how it actually feels good to sustain a mild TBI. I think I’ve written about how the rush after a “ding” feels just plain great, but I can’t find that particular post in the haystack of all my 1,000+ writings here. I’ll have to look for it. Or maybe I’ll just write something up myself.

But in the meantime, check out this snippet from the LA Times piece: (bold emphasis is mine)

Middle linebackers are a different breed. They are very aggressive and are often monumental risk takers. They lead by action and love contact, perhaps more than any player on the field.

The question is why is this so? The answer begins at the high school level when a young teenager first experiences the joy of contact football. The fact is that when you receive what I would refer to as a partial but playable concussion, there is a unique feeling of being high, of floating, of being numb to pain and unaware of other distractions. This produces a happy state that translates to a belief of invincibility and a superman complex. In some ways, it acts just like a drug. You become addicted to that feeling and want more of it. And when you get another hit, it feels even better. When mixed together with the newly found testosterone being produced at that age, it is a special and hidden pleasure. Very few young football players are attracted to this kind of behavior. Coaches are mostly unaware unless they had been middle linebackers.

It’s true. It feels great to get hit, sometimes. At least it did when I was a kid. I can remember a number of times when I was playing pretty rough, would fall or get hit, and after that initial slam that rang my bell, a rush of clarity would come over me, like all the stresses and strains of my life were being pushed aside for the time being. In that window of time after a hard hit/ding, I would feel a combination rush of energy and sense of calm that I couldn’t find anywhere else or get by any other means. It made the family problems disappear. It made the pain of my existence disappear. It made the confusion over my memory and comprehension problems fade away. It made everything better. And after I got hit, I felt like I was actually fit to play better than ever.

Off the playing field, too, hitting my head felt good. I didn’t do it all the time, but there were plenty of times when I banged my head to get the pain to stop. I banged my head to get the confusion to back off. I banged my head to get the monkey off my back and just have some peace. I haven’t discussed this with my neuropsych, because I don’t want to make myself out to be some kind of nut-case or make them think I’m fishing around for more ways to make myself out to be worse off than I really am. But until I found out what TBI does, and until I found out that I had TBI issues, I was banging my head. The last time I did it was in mid-June of 2007. I was having an impossible time, my job and family situation was impossibly tough, and I could see no way out. So, I banged my head. And after a while, the crazies stopped. Everything got quiet. I could think again.

It’s not that I wanted to injure myself. On the contrary. I wanted the pain to back off and leave me the f*ck alone. It worked.

But I wonder what effect it’s had on me…

%d bloggers like this: