Picking a New Challenge

It can be daunting to take on a new challenge after a brain injury. I find that if it is something you are passionate about, it will feel less like work.

Learning something new with a brain injury can be daunting. The first step is deciding what you want to learn. Pick something you are interested in. For me, this was figure skating.

Of course, you never really know what you are going to be passionate about until you try it. Sometimes you will have to change because you decide the effort isn’t worth it.

I tried different sports and hobbies. I ended up choosing figure skating as the thing to learn and put the effort in.

What about the activity you are learning is strenuous depends on where the brain injury is. This may dictate what you decide is more enjoyable to learn.

The activity or task that you decide to learn will probably take a lot of work. Unless you are born with the talent you need for the thing you choose to do, it will take some push, and a brain injury will make it need more of a drive and more time.

It sucks. I said I was going to quit skating many times, but I am still here. It took a ton of work to get to where I am in my skating. I am never going to be an Olympic skater.

I think that the main reason I have been able to stick with it is that I am passionate about it. I have found something I love to do.

This is essential. If you do not wake up and think about practicing or want to go to practice, you may want to try to find something else. That is okay.

You will know you have found the right thing when it doesn’t feel like work most days.

Coming to Terms

At some point after a brain injury you will learn what happened. You will have to learn a different way of living or learn to adapt. It can be tough at first but it gets better.

Since I got my injury at a young age, my parents needed to explain to me what happened. Of course, they had to wait until I was old enough to understand.


Before that moment, I remember thinking to myself that something ‘wasn’t right with me.’ I had this feeling that there was something that made me different. When kids are growing up, being different can be a big deal.


When my parents decided it was time for me to know, my mind went blank. I don’t really remember what I thought or how I reacted. It was big news.


This news was tough to wrap my head around. I am sure it is no matter how old you are when you get your injury. There are a lot of questions going through your mind.


Fortunately for me, I was able to take time to process it. I was young enough when I initially heard the story that I kept adding details as I grew. This made for a much slower time to process.


My questions came with that and not all at once. The question that appeared a lot was why. Why did this happen to me?


I am still trying to answer that question, but I have to believe that there is some reason it happened. There is a reason for everything.


Accepting what has happened to you will take time. It requires time to fully process and understand what your life is going to look like now.


This takes time, and everyone will have their own timeline for it to happen. It is a huge change. Allow yourself to grieve and be mad.


After that step, you need to be willing to learn what your new life is going to look like.

Attitude is Everything

When dealing with a brain injury, everyday tasks can become difficult. This is frustrating but there are ways to get around it.

When something terrible happens to you in life, it is simple to dig a hole. This hole is full of why me’s and feeling sorry for yourself.


I am only human. I have been in the hole before. It turns out that nothing about the situation changes or can get worse while in the hole.


If the hole isn’t too thick, it can be easier to come out of it. This doesn’t mean you can’t get frustrated or sad because you can’t do anything. It means to recognize the feeling. Allow it to sit with you for a little but then push it aside.


Pushing it aside can be difficult. Maybe it includes finding a different way to do what you want to. Perhaps it means understanding a smaller thing you have to accomplish first.


Everyone is different so what is needed to dig yourself out of your hole may be a different strategy compared to mine.


I have found that as tricky as it is, sometimes I have to step away from what I am trying to do. I spend a few hours doing something else and then come back to try it again.


This technique allows me to cool off, forget about what I was frustrated about and then come back with a fresh head.


This gives me a new perspective, and I may find a new way to try what I want to do. At times I need to walk away and come back a few times, but I have been able to get it.


Finding a technique that works for you may require some trial and error. One way may not work, but then you will find the perfect style. It may take some time and can be frustrating, but once you see what works for you, you will be able to glide through life.

Time Management- Work

A full time job can take a lot out of a person with a brain injury. It is vital to find a good balance that works for you.

I work in health care. It is pretty tiring most of the day, but it is gratifying. I love my job. To finish personal items out of work, I had to figure out how to not become mentally fatigued.

Mental fatigue can be severe to overcome. I have tried to give myself a mental break. I have decided that my commute is my mental break. I vent about what happened that day, and then I blast some music.

This allows me to come home and not be completely exhausted. I give myself a break, and then after dinner, I am ready to fulfill my to-do list.

I make sure that I know exactly what I need to get done that night. It allows me to skip figuring out what needs to be done and just do it.

The end of the night, when I am getting ready to go to sleep, I decide what I need to do the next night. This allows me to wind down but also continue to be productive.

The important thing is to prioritize my list. This makes sure everything is done on time. The larger, more time-consuming stuff is done over many nights or on the weekends.

I need to keep reminding myself that sometimes I need to take a break. Especially with a full-time job and brain injury, there are times where I need to come home and just relax.

It is essential to know when your mind needs a break and understand it is okay not to get stuff done for one night.

Time Management in School

School is the first real experience of having a deadline to get stuff done. It is important for people with brain injuries to learn the best way for them to manage their time.

We have all heard the words time management. We know what it means. It means being able to be productive promptly.

This is an important concept when there is a lot on the to-do list and deadlines to meet. The first time we learn about time management is during school.

I don’t remember specifically, but I believe that when I had to start learning how to manage my time was in high school. That is when my readings got more time-consuming, and I had to write more papers.

I believe the big thing I needed to learn with my brain injury was how long it would take me to complete a task. After that, knowing what I needed to get done was more comfortable to plan for.

This allowed me to have an idea each night how long what I needed to get done would take me. This translated into college life as well.

The issue in high school and college was friends. I loved them to death, but they were always able to finish in a faster time than me. This allowed them to go have fun.

There were times when I had to decline because I would not have been able to finish what I needed too quickly.

Sometimes its difficult for them to understand. My friends wanted me to go with them and not ‘be lame’ and do homework.

The thing they didn’t understand was that I wasn’t trying to be lame, I was just trying to do my job. My job was school, and if I felt that it wasn’t finished, I was going to finish it.

It was vital for me to do what I needed to do and stick with it. I had a lot more fun doing stuff with friends when I didn’t have to worry about work.

Some people will never understand the importance of what you need to do, especially if it isn’t a fun choice. It is necessary to stick to what you believe is the correct choice.

If they are good friends, they will understand.

Neurofatigue

The brain becomes exhausted quickly when it is injured. Sometimes it becomes difficult to live a normal life with this fatigue

Everyone tends to talk about how people with brain injuries suffer from neurofatigue. Neurofatigue means that the brain can tire quickly. I think I have not experienced a lot of neurofatigue until I joined the workforce.

Throughout my schooling years, I was not mentally tired. There were times when I thought I was mentally exhausted but turns out it was nothing compared to what I have experienced in the past couple of months.

It turns out that what I used to think was me being an introvert during school was probably mental fatigue. I used to need time for myself and rest without people around me. This occurred after especially rough days.

Now I believe that I was fatigued. My need for breaks from others was a result of my fatigue, I didn’t know how to read it.

Even through college, I was able to take enough breaks throughout the day, my mental capacity was able to be sustained.

Now, I am in the ‘adult’ workforce as I like to call it. I am working eight hours a day. I am doing what I enjoy, and I am helping others live their best lives.

It’s a rewarding job, but it is physical. On top of being mentally exhausting, I am physically exhausted. This means I need to try to find time to do what I want to do. I love to write, but sometimes my brain cannot handle it at the end of the day.

I am trying to use exercise as mental relaxation. It allows me to let my mind wander for a bit and then when I get home I am more willing to do activities that require more mental energy than just watching TV.

That Subject in School

We all have that subject in school that was what we dreaded going to. It is no different with a brain injury.

Everyone has that one subject in school where they struggle and are in turn not a fan of it. That is okay.

Math is my subject. I have always been a slow learner, but the math seems to take a while to click in my head.

That is okay, but the frustrating part is my foundation isn’t stable. The foundation isn’t reliable because I was busy getting pulled out of math to work on my reading.

It was a vicious cycle. It’s essential for me to put in the extra time and effort to be able to do everything, but if it impedes my ability to perform another subject, that is difficult.

Math has very different subsections. Some of it clicks with my brain, and others don’t. I had a lot of sections of math that just cannot mesh with the way my mind works but other I am.

I can grasp the concepts of algebra and geometry, but calculus is not my thing. It is okay.

The goal is just to keep working and never give up. I made it through high school and college with hard work and never gave up. That is what has allowed me to push through and get to the point where I am today.

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.