Helping a TBI Survivor Overcome Challenges

This is a recap from of a conversation I had with a brain injury survivor:

Every brain injury survivor has a unique story and I recently spoke with a survivor to hear her brain injury story, as well as what challenges she is facing to see how I can help. She gave me permission to share her story because it could help many others whether they had a brain injury or not. She will remain anonymous.

According to Anonymous means “Without any name acknowledged, as that of author, contributor, or the like”

There are many brain injury survivors who feel anonymous after their brain injury and not acknowledged or properly helped. I want to change that. One brain injury survivor at a time.

Her story- She got into a car accident 10 years ago which resulted in her struggling inside and fighting subsequent feelings and emotions. In addition to this she deals with insomnia, migraines, anxiety, anger and has difficulty concentrating. I have found anger to be a topic most people are interested in because we all have some sort of aggravation in our lives. Anger is one of those natural emotions that can bubble up after suffering a brain injury and attempting to live a normal, happy life.

However a “New normal” is what most brain injury survivors are left with, while trying to pick up the pieces following the most traumatic event of their lives, an event that lives with them everyday in forms of psychological and physical challenges. The post injury symptoms of a brain injury Survivor are not the only challenges they face in life and this brain injury survivor is a prime example of that.

The most difficult battle of surviving a brain injury is the mental battle-

Her brain injury occurred during the time doctors were prescribing opioids as if they were not addictive. Unfortunately she became addicted and not only had to fight living with a brain injury but also scratch and battle the demons of addiction. She is in recovery now and doing well but her setbacks do not stop at addiction and brain injury. She is also separated and in the process of a divorce with her abusive spouse, who is also the father of her child.

As we spoke about the abuse she mentioned her deep concerns of her ex being abusive towards her child. She also told me her parents were abusive when she was a kid. So let’s list out what she is dealing with.

  • A traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • An addiction battle
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Domestic abuse and a child whose safety she is concerned about

In an effort to direct our conversation towards positivity, I asked her what brings her happiness? She responded saying her child, nature, oceans, singing, music and dancing all bring her joy.I then asked her how we can incorporate those things more often into her life?

I said to her the things that bring her joy are very attainable and I suggested the following:

  • Taking breaks to go for walks outside and be in nature
  • Try to schedule fun activities with her kid to have something to look forward to
  • Play music while at home and doing chores and throw in a dance move every now and then. It can be fun to be a goofball, especially when no one is watching!
  • She is also a Christian and enjoys going to church so I encouraged her to do that more.

She has been taking an SSRI for anxiety. I told her that’s good if it helps and added she doesn’t have to be on medication forever. Sometimes we just need medicine during a particularly tough time and once we have gained the strength to handle anxiety and taught ourselves how to overcome it, you can move on from the medicine.

Mental health is a lifelong battle. I suggested she read the book, Choose Yourself by James Altucher. I also suggested she download the Headspace app as an introduction to meditation. I think meditation could bring peace of mind to her life. She said she would like to have more friends and become more social but she is shy and hard to relate to. I told her everyone is living in their own movie inside their heads. I added everyone is critiquing themselves so don’t worry about what other people think.

She also told me she has some anger issues and I suggested she try practicing gratitude during moments of anger. I suggested she think about 3 people in her life who she is grateful for and what traits about them she appreciates. This exercise will help change her perspective into a positive one.

What you can learn from my chat with this brain injury survivor, is to practice gratitude as a way of fighting negative emotions and to improve your perspective. Additionally, If you want to be more happier try to do the things that bring you happiness!

BrainTalk Brain injury survivor group

The Bleeding Brain podcast

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