Fourteen years post brain injury....where am I now?
People see me as a happy, very friendly people person... adventurous and fun-loving, with an interesting stockpile of somewhat enviable activities and interests.
But for me, it is simply the result of compensation.
And I've become so used to this compensation, that I often forget that I am still affected by TBI.
The truth is, I struggle when I try to live a "normal life."
I have no real focus in my life...no real goals...no real organizational skills...no real time management, and too much conversing/reading/writing gives me headaches, fatigue and confusion. Therefore, they often lack focused attention. So, I compensate by keeping a happy attitude and finding enjoyable activities.
But, I always wonder....Is there another way? I would love to be able to live a normal life...to be able to manage my time, organize my life, focus my activities, reading and writing, etc....and basically, develop a stronger sense of self.
What are your thoughts and experiences?
11 years post brain injury~~~~ when you said "I always wonder...Is their another way" It made the tears come back from about 1 hour ago. I dont have "is their another way" when I think of a solution or answer that is only one there is for me, it isnt like I had 2/3 of them & picked one. I only have 1 & dont see/know of any other or that their is even another. you would think after 11 years this not bother me so much but it do.
Wow, I could really relate to what you posted! In fact, I felt like I was reading a description of myself! I'm 7 years post-TBI, and have hit some stumbling blocks in my health and life in the past 2 months. Actually, they feel crushing. But among other things, this backslide in my health has caused me to pull back from my "sunny" exterior, b/c I simply don't have the energy for it right now.
Right now -- and sometimes underneath the sunny exterior -- I feel very cloudy. I have cloudy, sometimes turbulent emotions, and my mind just feels muddled and confused much of the time. It makes me wonder how to define myself -- what is my identity? Am I the vibrant, sunny, adventurous, optimistic, hopeful, friendly person that I used to be, and that I still am on good days...or am I this disgruntled, negative, depressed person slogging thru daily activities, avoiding exhausting social contact, and just trying to get by?
For me, the things that have been very helpful in saving energy (and thereby reducing the headaches/fatigue/confusion) are establishing routines (having to make fewer decisions in each day saves energy), and asking friends for help with very specific tasks (e.g. laundry, errands, etc.) and help with organizing activities/things and establishing new routines when I start to feel overwhelmed.
Re: the identity/sense-of-self problem, I don't have any answers. But the 3 things that have been very helpful to me in feeling better in this area are yoga and meditation (didn't do either of these pre-TBI), and having contact with nature (did this a lot pre-TBI). These activities all help me feel more grounded and connected to myself in general, and the contact with nature makes me feel connected with a continuous self that has existed since before my injury.
I hope some of that is helpful to you! I know that reading your post was very helpful to me -- thank you! :)
A counselor asked my if I had any goals in life. I was stunned when I realized the answer is no. I was always a busy career woman before the accident, driven toward success, extremely goal oriented. People think I am depressed or lazy because I stay home all the time and avoid social situations. Really, I am so happy to be alive and to have the time to pursue my many intrests, including gardening, horses, and lots of arts and crafts. But, driving and social situations are overwhelming for me and trigger headaches, so I avoid them. I feel like everyone is waiting for me to be the old me....and I realize that's not going to happen. I am okay with the me I am now, I just wish I wasn't such a disappointment to my loved ones.