Category Description:

Losing your sense of who you are – or your sense of self – after a brain injury can feel devastating. So many TBI survivors ask the question, “Who am I now?” These blogs explore the meaning of sense of self and the impact of losing your identity when physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral challenges affect not only daily life but personal relationships.

Being Accountable after Brain Injury

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We have all been in situations where we did something that was careless or thoughtless and caused distress for others. An example would be bumping into a table and knocking off a treasured ornament, smashing it into a gazillion pieces. We feel foolish and may even say, “Oh my goodness, look what I’ve done. I am so sorry. That was completely my fault. Please let me replace it for you.” Don’t confuse this with self-blame – this is being accountable for one’s action and making amends or rectifying the situation.

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Dependence, Independence, Interdependence after Brain Injury

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In the contract work that I do in the brain injury field, our goal is always to ‘work ourselves out of a job.’ This means that we strive to help the individual move towards independence and to living a life that is filled with meaningful activity, positive interactions with others, and achievements.

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Far Away from TBI

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It happened on a spring night in May – driving home from church with my younger brother and after dropping off my girlfriend after a Wendys’ dinner. It was about 5-10 minutes before I had to be home while someone (the writer of this email) forgot to use the restroom before he quickly rushed out of his girlfriend’s house to hurry, get home, and not be late…

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The Need for Purpose after Brain Injury – Part III

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So how can we help those that have survived a TBI reach that next level on the Hierarchy of Needs? How can we help them identify a sense of purpose that will serve as their prompt to press on and not get stuck in a developmental stage? If you are a friend or a family member of a loved one that is a TBI survivor then you can play a major role in helping your loved one reach the level. After one acquires a TBI, their likes and dislikes often change significantly. Before he or she may have loved scuba diving, but now detests getting into the water. The key is to identify in the TBI survivor something that they truly enjoy and feel passionate about now in their current state. Initially, they may need the assistance of another to draw it out of them or to help them see it. However, once it is identified, the hard part is over. Any identified interest can be used as a positive outlet, as a source of meaning and is worth looking into. If, for example, your loved one acquired a love for animals after their TBI, it may be beneficial for them to get connected with a support group of animal lovers or volunteer at an animal shelter and so on.

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Reinventing Yourself is not Easy after a Brain Injury

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Kvetching (complaining) is no longer my favorite pastime. Yes I do get pissed off, a lot, but I let it pass, or move it aside and get down to work. There is so much to do and so little time so kvetching is now just a hobby. Before my accident I ‘invented’, my patent portfolio attests to this, or ‘discovered’ (my scientific papers chronicle those efforts) but now, since graduating from rehabilitation, I no longer invent, I re-invent. What do I need to re-invent? Plain and simply put, myself.

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The Need for Purpose after a Brain Injury – Part II

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According to Dr. Frank Crane, “Nobody has things just as he would like them. The thing to do is to make a success with what material I have. It is a sheer waste of time and soul power to imagine what I would do if things were different. They are not different.” (Cook, 1993). After experiencing a traumatic event that causes one’s whole way of thinking, way of life and cognitive function to change, it is difficult to focus on anything outside of “I wish I were the same as I used to be.” If a victim of a TBI remains fixated on this thought, the probability of progressing to the next level of recovery, or the next level of higher functioning will be very slim. However, on a positive note, if one changes his or her way of thinking, or the mindset of their fixation, the results could be empowering and allow them to succeed.

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The Need for Purpose

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As we all journey through life and get older, the timeless and fundamental human development questions: “Who am I? Why am I here? and What is my Purpose?,” begin to entertain our thoughts. For many of us, it is when we find the answers to these fundamental questions that we begin to gain a sense of meaning or purpose in our lives. When I was a little girl at the age of 6, I recall sitting in my first grade classroom in Germany learning that I could be anything I wanted to be when I became an adult. What does that mean exactly? Could I become a singer just because I wanted to? Or could I become the next Van Gogh using my doodling skills? As I grew older I learned that there is a difference in becoming who you are, rather than becoming what you want to be.

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A Note from Debbie

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I was desperate. I had sustained a brain injury in an automobile accident and was struggling to deal with everyday living activities. After almost burning down my home twice by leaving cooking units on unattended, I finally realized I had a problem and that it wouldn’t go away. Everything in my life that used to be so easy was now almost impossible to do without putting myself, others or property at risk.

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