Depression

It is important to take care of yourself if yo think you are depressed and don’t be afraid to talk to someone.

Anyone can suffer from depression. It is not unique to an injury, but a brain injury can cause depression. It is essential to understand that right off the bat.

People who don’t have a TBI or ABI can have depression too. I can’t say for sure that I have depression because of what happened to me, but I can argue that its possible.

The important thing is that don’t ignore it if you think you have depression. You need to be able to know the signs and understand what to do about them.

Take a minute, notice how you feel right now. Was it tough to get out of bed this morning or do you have a lack of interest in doing something you used to love to do.

If you think you are depressed, it is essential to talk to someone about it. Don’t just keep it in. It doesn’t have to be a doctor, only a trusted adult.

The most important thing is to find help and take care of yourself.

Not just an injury

We are people first and injuries second

I never thought about the concept of being a person versus being an injury. I began to think about it when I volunteered with people who had disabilities.

An injury does not define me as a person. I am a person who happens to have an injured brain. That is okay, as long as others understand that.

This is the exact reason why I am not a fan of sharing information about my past with others until they are able to know who I am.

This allows me to be a person with an injury instead of an injured person.
When you meet a person with a brain injury, it will make all the difference in how the person feels with you.

I know a few people who treat me like an injured human. Let me tell you, I want to get away from them as fast as I can, but when people just treat me like a person, I will hang around for a lot longer.

That is really all I want and what most of us want, to be treated normally.

Runaway Time

There are never enough hours in the day. When you have a brain injury this is more than true. Everything takes longer and it is important to find strategies to help complete what you can.

Everyone says there are not enough hours during the day. It is true no matter who you are. But with a brain injury, it is even more difficult.

The ability to perform a task can slow after a brain injury. It is essential to take time to complete what you want to do.

The time it requires to finish a task can put this famous saying into reality. For me, reading a chapter takes the time it takes my friends to read multiple chapters.

This makes me not want to read often or at all. I enjoy reading, but it just takes a while for me to finish a book. That is okay, I need to keep doing what I enjoy.

For me to complete tasks that are time-consuming, it is helpful to create a list. I always have a list of things I would like to get done. This allows me to stay focused.

A to-do list can help me see what I still need to do, but it also allows me to see what I have accomplished. This can make me feel better when things are moving along slowly.

It is essential to be careful when making a list. It can be easy to get discouraged by seeing that what one still needs to get done. It is okay not to complete the list, just focus on what you have accomplished.

Reading

Sometimes, a brain injury can cause issues to do what we want to do. It is difficult to rekindle the enjoyment that task used to give us.

I love to read. I like the idea of reading. There are plenty of books I would enjoy to sit with and get lost in. The problem is that reading takes energy out of me.

After a long day I would love to read and relax, except for that I would rather relax and lose my mind in a tv show. I know that some people don’t like to read, but I would love to.

I wonder what would make it be able to be effortless for me to read. People will tell me that if I read more, it will get better.

My question is when. When does it get easier. Will reading ever be able to be my way to relax and unwind after a long day or will I always turn to Netflix.

There are plenty of books that catch my eye but opening them is what scares me. I have always had trouble reading.

When I was in third grade, I had to miss communal class and go to a particular class to help me read. I don’t remember what we did in there, but I remember walking back into the classroom and them being halfway through their math lesson.

I believe this is part of the reason I am not a fan of reading. My underlying fear when I open a book is that I am missing something more important.

I deal with irrational fears all the time. I can not pinpoint their origin, but they are present.

Neuro Testing

Testing can assist the recovery process. It will show what areas need to be worked on the most.

When I was younger, I needed to go through some significant testing. These tests required me to do different tasks to show how I was able to handle them.

The way it was described to me was that I had to prove that I had a brain injury. This didn’t make much sense to me, I am who I am.

I was told it was essential to get these results because it would assist how I can perform in school. It turns out that it did.

Even after all the testing, I went through, the prognosis was not very good. I was not supposed to be able to read at grade level, and there were questions about if I would end up going to college.

Now I have a college degree, and I have just finished my first week at my first full-time job. It is essential to keep pushing. It was not an enjoyable experience getting tested but it was worth it and I am glad I was forced to do it.

Doctors will make predictions about outcomes and the future. The brain is a mysterious thing. It will change. Results will vary if you are willing to work through the difficulties your outcome will change.

Relationships

Major life-changing injuries can be rough on every type of relationships, romantic ones, familial ones, and friends.

Major life-changing injuries can be rough on every type of relationships, romantic ones, familial ones, and friends.

Some of these relationships will fizzle out and are not able to withstand the challenges presented. As harsh as this can be, in the end, it is a good thing. This process will show you who your real friends are.

I do not have experience with losing friends after the incident. But the things that frustrate me the most, I have found, frustrate some of my friends also. The only difference is that they can walk away.

I am usually able to be close to people who can look past the difficulties. I have had some friends who can’t handle it. I am not able to say what makes them leave but for whatever reason they do.

My injury has been used as an excuse for even a breakup. That was not fun, and it hurt a lot. If it was the exact reason I can’t say, but it didn’t feel right.

The important thing about being rejected is that life goes on. I use it as motivation to show how wrong they really are. It is essential the push a little more because of each rejection.

People’s Reactions

When people hear about my story there are many different reactions. Some people accept it and others think I am a new person who can’t understand a normal situation

People have unpredictable reactions. This may be because you never know what the other person has gone through. Therefore, it can be difficult to tell someone about your big life-altering event.

This first question I must ask myself is how to bring it up. Do I want them to know just to know or is it essential information that would be helpful for them to understand how I work.

Usually, I assess the situation and first decide why I feel the need to tell them. After that comes the tricky part, how to bring it up.

This usually does not require a lot of thought. It is a subject that comes up naturally or not. If it does come up naturally, I am not able to think about how to describe what happened.

After telling your story, it doesn’t require a lot of thought. It is your story, there is no right or wrong way to say it. The important thing is that you know what you want to say.
The big fear I always have is after the story is over how will they view me. I never thought of this much before, but what made me think of it, was when it happened to me.

There was a teacher I had that knew my background, but I felt like I was being mistreated and getting talked down to. Even at my young age, I did not appreciate it. This is when I became self-conscious of my story and decided to keep it to myself until people got to know me better.

I found this to assist in my dilemma. As friends and teachers got to know me for who I was and not what had happened to me, they seemed more open to my story. I felt like nothing change their view of me once they found out since they were able to know me for me.

This is not always possible. No matter how they react, if you feel it is the right thing to do, then do it. People are unpredictable. You never know how they will respond, the critical part is that you do what is best for you. If it is something you feel the need to do, then do it.

If someone reacts to how you don’t want them to, they are just one person. Think of everyone else in your life who are supportive and treat you like a human being. Just keep your head up high and know it is not your problem. If they have a problem with your story maybe it is not the right place for you to be in.

Gratitude

I like to tell people after they have heard my story that I am thankful for what happened. This injury has shaped who I am and what I enjoy doing.

I could not imagine what I would be like if my injury didn’t happen. I am not sure if I would be able to do stuff I could do now.

Thanks to this injury I have a strong work ethic. I can push through challenges and do what I want to do. I am not willing to give up on anything.

I used to not be able to stand on one foot, but after hard work in physical therapy, I am not jumping on the ice and landing on one foot.

I am thankful for all the opportunities that I had to get to work on the things that proved difficult for me.

I am thankful for the people who didn’t give up on me when things became difficult. This happens a lot.

My injury has taught me how to be compassionate towards people who have their own struggles. There are people you will encounter in life who don’t understand that things that come easily to them don’t come quickly to others.

I am thankful that my injury has allowed me to advocate for what I need to succeed. This took me some time to learn, but I began the process at a young age. Everyone needs to learn this no matter what the situation is.

Learning Spanish

It is helpful to learn a foreign language. I started to learn Spanish in 6th grade. I never knew what to expect. The process of learning English was so painful for me that I completely expected to give up after the required year of taking a language, but I chose not to.

It turned out that I fell in love with it. For some reason learning a language must occur in a different part of the brain because it turned out that I was able to catch on quickly.
I still put a lot of effort into learning Spanish, but it all came with ease. I was able to see the results that I hadn’t seen in other subjects.

My first Spanish teacher was terrific. She was part of the reason I fell in love with the language. I was able to want to continue my learning throughout my school career.
There were some frustrating times and concepts I have more of a difficult time with, but the difference was that I was able to have a drive through that frustration.

There was a teacher in high school that made me fall out of love with the language. This teacher did not understand that for me to be fluent in Spanish, I will be slower at retrieving words because that was how I speak English.

Continue reading “Learning Spanish”

Obsessed

OCD is not specific to brain injuries but it is never an easy thing to deal with

For those of you who don’t know, OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The DSM 5 defines OCD as, “the presence of obsessions, compulsions or both.”

It can be debilitating and take up most of one’s time throughout the day. The DSM 5 has plenty more under the definition, I have a link to the page at the end of my post.

Anyone can have OCD. It is not unique to a person with a brain injury. I am writing about it because I have OCD. Just like everything in my life, there is no sure way to know if it is a result of the injury or something else.

The most challenging thing I have found about OCD is trying to get people to understand what I am doing. Some compulsions are difficult to hide, which means that people will see them and ask about it.

My most visible compulsion is picking the scabs on my arms. I usually have big red spots on my arms from where I picked and the scares from the older places.

It is not a pretty sight, and people become curious about it. I have had people ask me what happened, and I just say I am allergic to mosquito bites. Someone asked if I had chicken pox.

I won’t lie, it is not fun. It is humiliating and painful to stop. I promise you that is not the only compulsion, but it is the most visible.

No matter what obstacles your brain injury gives you, you are not alone. We all struggle with something, visible or not. If anyone needs to talk to someone who gets it, let me know.

Even with a brain injury, you are not stuck with the life after it. There are ways to improve it. I went to therapy, and it decreased the intensity of my picking. There are ways to get help, and it is worth it.