I read a story recently about a mother saying how grateful she was that her 6 year old daughter had survived a serious traumatic brain injury. She went on to say that as much as she and her husband were thankful that they still had their baby girl, they missed the bubbly and happy child she was before the brain injury. It is very difficult for loved ones to adjust to the unexpected change in personalities and disabilities. Even though it is a common response to want things to be the same, most people can feel burdened by the guilt in the way they deal with the loss.
This is also a typical response for the survivor wishing they were the same person as before the brain injury and experts are quick to confirm that we will not be the same. We feel a tremendous loss loss of cognitive and physical skills, compromised memory and an inability to multitask. Foggy brain is what we call it. It’s like a bad dream. After my brain injury, I also lost my confidence and self esteem because I wasn’t as high functioning as I was before.
It is this general feeling of loss of what could have been if it weren’t for this injury, that keeps us stuck. I can totally relate. The feeling of being stuck and not able to move beyond the boundaries that are fueled by depression, physical and emotional pain, can be paralyzing.
About four months after my initial injury caused by a horseback riding accident, I found a speech pathologist who specialized in traumatic brain injury. She understood my injury and gave me hope that I would heal. Do you know how that feels when someone understands what you are experiencing, when no one else has a clue including your doctor? It confirmed that I wasn’t a hypochondriac. I felt empowered and was determined to heal.
I read as many books as I could find on the latest brain research. My cognitive therapist gave me exercises to regain memory and cognitive skills. It was hard to find a book to help me understand what a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) was. But in the nine years of my recovery, I discovered that there isn’t anything “mild” about a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury!
If they tell us that we can’t recover it all back, then why not redefine “recovery” in our own words, in our own way. Looking back, I would say the first step in redefining my own recovery was to mourn the loss of what was taken away by this “invisible injury.” I had to face it, accept it and release it.
It is wise to reach out to medical professionals that can assist in the process of mourning the loss, accepting and releasing it. I highly recommend your exploring the following treatment options: Cognitive Therapist, Somatic Experiencing, EFT, Trauma Release, Chi gong, Reiki, Craniosacral, EMDR, and Neurofeedback. Some of these therapies may not be familiar to you and I suggest that you research them. The Internet is a great resource. Also ask other survivors what worked for them. Since emotional and physical trauma are held in the body, not just in the mind, these therapies go deeper to release the residual cellular memory.
There is more to healing from MTBI than just therapy, however. It takes courage to move forward with the determination that you will heal, you will get better. The good news is that you haven’t lost it. Courage is innate. It is imbedded in your soul, in your being, in the very essence of you. Get in touch with your courage, wake it up because this is the spark that will light up your new life!