Embracing Your New Self after Brain Injury

Embracing Your “New Self” after Brain Injury

by Amanda Nachman

What does embracing your new self mean?

Towards the beginning of my MTBI, I was told I would be fine in a week, a month, three months, a year, three to five years, maybe never.  I was told to focus on getting back to my old self,  let go of my old self, adjust to my new way of life, and embrace the new me.  With so many inconsistencies, I wasn’t sure what to do, I fought acceptance, but I never gave up hope.  I finally came to a point where I stopped fighting to get back to living just the way I had been before.

First of all, I couldn’t remember what I was exactly like before.  I knew I was a teacher, but my personality, the way I spoke, many events, I just don’t remember.  Some things I’ve been told are the same, others things a bit different.  How do you get back to something you can’t exactly remember?  Secondly, I wanted to do the things I did before, but I couldn’t.  It was not from lack of trying that I discovered this.  I tried to return to teaching, twice.  It didn’t work either time.  I could no longer keep up my high energy pace I once had, lights and sounds bothered me, crowds bothered me, and any kind of organizing tasks became extremely challenging and exhausting.  These things are still challenges I face almost two years later.

I had two choices.  I could spiral completely into a life of depression and feeling sorry for my self, or I could learn how to reinvent my self by finding joy in something new.   My children, husband, and family brought/bring me great happiness, but I needed something internal.  The first step to this was joining a brain injury support group for professional women.  I was no longer unusual, but among other highly educated women who were experiencing the same symptoms as me.  We spent many sessions talking about what our new selves can do, and can’t do.  We have discussed resources, and ways to help ourselves, and our caregivers.  We have brought humor and understanding to one another’s lives as insiders in a world of outsiders.  Not only has this group taught me that it’s not giving up, by accepting your new strengths and weaknesses, but that we are not “Brain Injured Women” we are women who have had brain injuries.  Just changing the sequence of the wording, we become individuals rather than victims.  I highly recommend finding a support group that fits for you.  The value of this kind of support is priceless.  With this newfound support from “others like me”, I began writing, refinishing furniture, and got creative with my finances.  My internal joy came back, and along with that came an increase in confidence, and love for the new me.

About the Author

Amanda Nachman was an elementary schoolteacher for fifteen years prior to her mild traumatic brain injury in 2011.  She is still working on her recovery, and writing to share her story to get the word out that not only athletes and soldiers are dealing with this invisible disability, but people we come across every day can be affected by the impact concussions can have on us.  She is hoping she can help change the way the medical field responds to others who find themselves in a similar situation.

8 responses to “Embracing Your New Self after Brain Injury”

  1. Susan says:

    Thank you for your articles Amanda. So glad you are in a support group for professional women.Is there any way we could set up something online. I have a very similar CV and injuries. I live in Australia and am finding things VERY lonely after three years. Tears, tears…. After adapting as much as I can, and working hard on what I can do-I need somewhere to vent, share and laugh…. Perhaps someone could organise it as I can’t anymore….

  2. Kathy Frey says:

    Amanda,

    Nice to hear from you. I enjoy reading your blog, but mostly I enjoy your spirit. hang in there and keep blogging!

  3. Susan Riley says:

    Amanda, thank you for the touching article. The journey to find the new normal is long, hang in there! Your story is a great gift to others. Sincerely, Susan

  4. Amy Nachman says:

    Amanda,
    What inspiring writing and proactive approach towards your ongoing challenges. Most would give up but you are a survivor, ready to help others, while continuing to heal yourself. We are all so proud of you helping others along their journeys of recovery.

  5. Danna Bushnell Erickson says:

    Such a great article! I remember the night I met you. I was so saddened about you not being able to teach. I’m so proud of you and your positive outlook. You will encourage many. You sure have me.
    Danna

  6. Bryan says:

    Thank you for this nice article Amanda! Wishing you a wonderful transformation! Bryan

  7. Marilyn Lash says:

    Love the idea of a support group for professional women with brain injury – a great way to share and connect! thanks.

  8. What a wonderful article. Thank you so much for sharing this perspective. Given the military orientation to buddies and groups that have their back, I think your blog would resonate! Thanks for writing. Linda

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