Brain Injury Survivors and Stress by Charles Watson
Posted on November 17, 2019
Brain injury victims often feel apprehensive, stressed, and alone as the holiday season approaches. The stress of finances, unpleasant noises and gatherings are factors that make life difficult to manage during this time.
Many people do not realize what TBI or ABI sufferers go through. Following are some points to ponder over from a brain injury sufferer’s perspective:
- I get tired easily: The most common complaint, being physically as well as mentally fatigued, making it difficult to think, process, and organize. “I need more rest than I used to.”
- Fluctuating Stamina: Though a brain injury survivor may look ‘all good’ on the outside, cognition is a fragile function, and pushing too hard leads to setbacks or illnesses. Some days may be better than others and some days extremely depressing - usually the holidays.
- Recovery is time-consuming: Brain rehabilitation can take years. It can take a very long time for a person to come back to his original self, and sometimes it may not be completely possible, even if physical health improves.
- Behavioral issues: These arise when the injured brain faces overstimulation, leading to frustration and pain. Social interactions become difficult, and avoiding a gathering or leaving early or excusing oneself for rest, maybe a coping strategy and not a behavioral problem.
- Confused, disoriented, slow: If more than one person is talking, I have trouble following the different conversations simultaneously, to understand different points of views or discussions all at the same time, hence may seem uninterested. I am not stupid, but after the injury, I repeat actions as repetitions enhance my memory, and sometimes I forget an action just done as my brain has trouble registering. I am slow and confused as I work best at my own pace, one step at a time.
- Exercise patience: Taking care of brain injury sufferers requires patience, as communication, memory, and multi-tasking are skills that are still developing. Please listen to me, try not to interrupt me as I fight to find words to express myself. I may not remember you and respond to you in the same way as before, but I need your attention and encouragement to get better.
- Rigid, stuck, and sensitive: The brain gets stuck and my brain signals fluctuate. I am retraining my mind to learn things all over again. If you want to help me, let me do things at my own pace and instead of doing it for me, let me do it over and over again. Sometimes I get overwhelmed as tasks which were previously “automated” and took ‘minimal effort’ now take much longer, require more effort and strategy to accomplish the required task. I am tired but alive and hope to get better with your support, love, and patience. I am trying to adjust to the limitations and cope with the mechanisms, strategies to rebuild my lost memory.
If we can keep these considerations in mind when dealing with or caring for brain injury victims, it can give us an insight into their behavioral or emotional outbursts.