In the event that you find yourself baffled and confused living with the impact of a brain injury and an invisible disability you are not alone. My brain injury occurred in 1967 when I was 10 years old. Before there was much known about the impact of brain injuries or invisible disabilities. What I share below helped me to understand and see how the pieces of my experience living with a brain injury and invisible disability fit together.
What I share below gave me hope and may also help you to find hope. Find hope in the midst of living with the impact of a brain injury and an invisible disability.
My name is Craig J. Phillips. I sustained an open skull fracture and a severe brain injury in an automobile accident in 1967 when I was 10 years old. I sustained right frontal lobe damage, a severe brain bruise with brain stem involvement. I was in a coma for 3 weeks, in traction to set my left fractured femur (thigh bone) and then remained in a Spica or full body cast for 5 months. My brain injury went invisible after my external wounds healed.
Sustaining a brain injury can be likened to scattering pieces of a jigsaw puzzle across a table. As a result, individual pieces may make little sense. Little sense to us as we go about trying to make sense of our brain injuries. I stayed baffled and confused for many years trying to understand and make sense of what did not make sense to me. As I stayed baffled and confused I felt alone, isolated, abandoned and alienated from other people and myself.
Baffled and Confused
I stayed baffled, confused, alone, isolated, abandoned and alienated for many years until I started to become aware. As I grew in awareness, I grew in acceptance. Acceptance of myself as an individual living with a brain injury and an invisible disability. As I grew in awareness and acceptance, I grew in my ability to take action. The action that helped me to find and begin on my second chance to live. Action that helped me to begin to be able to live and follow my dreams.
In my experience, I began to grow in awareness and acceptance when I stopped fighting the reality that I was living with the impact of a brain injury and an invisible disability.
A Look into my Process and my Journey
As shared above, I am a traumatic brain injury survivor. My brain injury occurred as a result of a motor vehicle accident in 1967 when I was 10 years old. I sustained an open skull fracture, right frontal lobe damage, a several brain bruise with brain stem involvement. I remained in a coma for 3 weeks.
In 1967 there was not much known about brain injuries or neurological rehabilitation. Once my external wounds healed my traumatic brain injury was never again considered to be a factor in my development or my difficulties. Because I was able to teach myself how to walk, talk, read, write and speak in complete sentences the effects of the injury to my brain became invisible and hidden. For more insight into my learning to walk again, click on this link: Finding Craig — Learning to Walk Again Part 3.
Mainstreamed back into Elementary School
Once I was mainstreamed back into elementary school in the 6th grade I found myself being bullied and teased. I did not have many friends and stuck to myself. In my freshman year of high school I tried out for the wrestling and track team. My efforts resulted in my becoming part of the JV “junior varsity” team. In high school there was a social structure of sorts. The “jocks”, “the freaks” and the “nerds”. Kind of like in the movie, The Breakfast Club. I did not fit in with the jocks, nor did I want to fit in with the freaks. This only left the nerds and because I was smart, I felt comfortable being a part of the group called “nerds”.
In high school I continued to be teased and bullied. The jocks and the freaks, through peer pressure; discouraged other students from being my friend. I think I only had one friend during high school. He was a nerd. In preparation of putting together the senior yearbook, I was asked to write my “last will and testament” concerning my experience in high school. In the yearbook I wrote, “I will leave”. High school was not a happy time in my life. I was happy to leave and go to college.
After Graduating from High School
Although I was not expected to succeed beyond high school academically, I was able to graduate on time with my high school class and then go on to obtain my undergraduate degree (4 majors, 2 universities and one junior college in 10 years) and my graduate degree (in 3 1/2 years and 2 different grad schools). I obtained an undergraduate degree in theology/ physical education and recreation and a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling. I obtained my national credentials as a certified rehabilitation counselor (CRC).
For more insight into my academic path, click on this link: Finding Craig — My Academic Path Part 4
My Experience with Being a Client of the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation
Due to difficulties on the job I disclosed to my DVR supervisor that I had sustained a severe brain injury in 1967 when I was 10 years old. The consequence of that disclosure resulted in my becoming a client of DVR.
Interestingly, my first evaluation process as a client of (DVR) occurred after I had obtained my graduate degree as a rehabilitation counselor and my national credentials as a certified rehabilitation counselor (CRC).
Interestingly, I became a client of DVR for the 1st time in Florida while still working as a vocational rehabilitation counselor for the Florida Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. My first evaluation process did not result in a job placement and I was terminated as a client of the Florida DVR.
My second evaluation process as a client with DVR was in North Carolina. I began this second evaluation process after being recruited, moving to North Carolina, working as a CRC for an insurance company for 4 months and then being fired. The outcome from this evaluation deemed me unemployable.
For individuals who learn more effective through watching and listening, I have created video presentations of my 2 experiences as a client of DVR.
Click on the links and the video presentations will open for you on you tube.
For more insight into what lead up to my 2 Evaluations with the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, click on this link: Finding Craig — My Brain Injury Awareness Part 5
Following my second evaluation process with the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation and my 3rd application with the Social Security Administration I was declared disabled.
So at the end of 1998 I found myself deemed unemployable, declared disabled and approved to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
Being deemed unemployable and declared disabled left me feeling relieved and despondent. Relieved because I could set up a budget to alleviate the ongoing feeling of financial insecurity. Despondent because all of my hard work had seemed to be for naught. Although I felt like some one all dressed up — prepared and ready — I had nowhere to go.
Despondent because no one seemed to want what I had to give as I was unemployable. Despondent because I was now living below the poverty line. Despondent because I questioned my own worth and value as an individual. Despondent because I was unable to prove that I was not making excuses. Despondent because I could not change my reality.
But, I am glad that I did not give up
To read about the budget that I set up for myself, click on this link. The budget may help you if you are living on SSDI or a fixed income:
For individuals who learn more effectively through watching and listening I have created a video presentation of the article:
Although neither DVR evaluation gave me the answers I needed, I am glad that I did not give up on my search.
In my search, I discovered that I needed to ask questions of myself, that no one else could ask.
In my search, I discovered that I was the only one who could answer the questions, that no one else could answer.
Although I had diligently applied myself, both academically and vocationally for many years; I found myself effectively discounted and dismissed by society. Being deemed disabled and declared disabled left me feeling like a broken toy, tossed into a box to be forgotten.
What I Discovered
In my experience, I had to reach a point in time when I could no longer defend, justify or explain why I kept getting fired from positions. I knew that I was a hard worker, that I was responsible and honest; yet some thing was not working. At the coffee before graduation ceremonies, I called my Mom to let her know the graduate program chair told me he would let me graduate.
During that conversation with my Mom she told me that I had proved them wrong. In 1968 in follow-up to my open skull fracture, right frontal lobe damage, severe brain bruise with brain stem involvement and being in a coma for 3 weeks I underwent a battery of testing..
The test results showed that I would probably not be able to succeed beyond high school academically. The results were shared with my Mom and Dad. My Mom and Dad decided not to tell me.
And so I proved them wrong, although it took me 10 years to obtain my undergraduate degree and 3 1/2 years to obtain my graduate degree.
I knew some thing needed to change. My struggles in undergraduate, graduate school, long history of being hired and then fired, the outcomes of my 2 department of vocational rehabilitation evaluations and being declared disabled could no longer be denied. Although I diligently applied myself what I had been doing and the results I had consistently received brought me to a place of despair. To a place where I could not longer deny my reality.
The pain of denying my reality superseded my need to deny my reality. Although family and friends needed to continue to blame me for not being enough, I realized that I had done all that could be done. When I reached this point of time in my life I realized that I needed to grieve my reality. Through grieving my reality — breaking free from my denial, being angry, trying to bargain my way out, and experiencing depression — I began to realize that things could be different in my life.
Grieving my Reality helped me to Create a New Reality
Through grieving my reality, I began to accept the reality of what could not be changed. That my life, while I walked on earth; would forever be impacted the impact of a brain injury and an invisible disability. With this realization, I began to realize that although my reality would not change, I could take a different course of action. A different course of action that would bring about different results in my life. Different results that would begin to answer the questions that I alone needed to ask and answer. Questions and answers that would help me to begin to create hope in my life.
The process took time, but when I was able to accept the impact of the injury to my brain and my invisible disability a new world opened to me. Through working through my grieving process I found that my despair began to turn into hope. I began to realize that I had other options than what the results from the 2 DVR evaluations had communicated to me.
By grieving what could not be changed, I gained the gift of acceptance. Acceptance then helped me to get into action. Getting into action helped me to explore other options. Options that would work for me. Although I was declared disabled, I realized that I was not dis-abled. I just needed to find ways that would work for me.
Exploring Different Options
And so, I decided to explore different options. Options that I could use to use my passion to encourage people to not give up in ways that would work for me. Ways to use my gifts, talents and abilities to share my experience strength and hope. Options to use my passions through my gifts, talents and abilities in ways that worked for me for the people who wanted what I had to give.
For more insight into what helped me to begin opening the door to hope, click on this link: Finding Craig — Empowering My Life Part 6
Several years ago I wrote an article, Yes I am disabled, but Don’t Count me Out
The Next Step in my Process — the Back Story of Second Chance to Live
In the Back Story of Second Chance to Live I share what I discovered through answering the questions that I alone could ask and answer. What I discovered, through my process; was that answering these questions just took time.
After being deemed unemployable and declared disabled the process of finding and then beginning my second chance to live took another 7 years. To read about what led up to finding and then beginning my second chance to live, please click on the below 2 links.
In my process of finding a way that would work for me I wrote an autobiography, a book and then on February 6, 2007, at the encouragement of a friend; I found my way to share hope. Through my website Second Chance to Live. I began writing and publishing articles on Second Chance to Live.
During the past 9 1/2 years I have written a total of now 1546 articles for Second Chance to Live. To view a list of the articles that I have written and published on Second Chance to Live you may click on this link: Site Map for my Articles.
Overcoming Physical and Cognitive Challenges
For the past 18 years, I have been using different martial art disciplines to work on overcoming physical and cognitive limitations. In the past several years the term neuoplasticity was coined to describe the process of creating new neural pathways and brain reorganization.
In my experience I have used repetitive mirrored movements to develop skills and skill sets on my dominant and non-dominant sides of my body. I subsequently have been able to accomplish what I never dreams possible. In the process, I have improved muscle memory, hand-eye coordination, agility, body awareness, gross and fine motor skills, deterity, coordinated movement, speed, accuracy and balance. In the process I have grown in coordination and the ability to use my dominant and non-dominant sides of my body.
Improving my skills and abilities — through these repetitive mirrored movements –has given me the gift to be able to create hope by being able to use both sides of my brain and body.
Below are links to short video presentations showing the progression of how repetitive mirrored movements has benefited my mind and body. Click on the below links and they will open for you on YouTube.
Improving Your Abilities
If you have not already begun a program using repetitive mirror movements, I would encourage you to do so my friend. The process takes time, but the rewards are worth the effort and commitment. Several years ago I wrote an article that may help you to get started with this process if you have not already begun. Below is a link to the article and video presentation of the article.
To read the article from which this video presentation is made, please click on this link: Neuroplasticity, Small Successes and Learning / Relearning Skill Sets
To listen to and watch the presentation, please click on this link: Neuroplasticity, Small Successes and Learning / Relearning Skill Sets Video Presentation
Creating Brain Injury Peer Support — Empowering the Individual, Not the Brain Injury
In May 2016 I wrote an article to share my 12 Categories for Brain Injury Support. Below are links to each of the categories. Click on the article category that interests and a page will open for you. Scroll down the list of article titles with in the category and click on the article that interest you.
Click on the article title that interests you and the article will open for you. Repeat the process to read more articles from that or other categories. As you read the article (s) and questions come to mind, please send those questions to me. All questions are good questions.
Although the article categories have Brain Injury in their titles, the information with in the articles in each category can benefit anyone. You don’t have to have a brain injury to be able to gain from the content. The messages contained in each article, with in each category; are universal.
Brain Injury Peer Support Categories
Brain Injury Peer Support — Creating Video Presentations for Visual and Auditory Learners
On July 29, 2011, I created a YouTube channel to begin creating video presentations for individuals who learn more effectively through watching and listening for my Second Chance to Live 2dogbull YouTube channel.
Below is a link of my 310 Video Presentations for Brain Injury Support containing a list of video presentations. Clicking on the below link will open a list of video presentation titles. Scroll down the list and click on the presentation title that interests you.
Clicking on the title of the video presentation, with in the list; will open the video presentation on You Tube for you. As you watch the presentation and questions come to mind, please send those questions to me. All questions are good questions.
In 2015 I created and published 5 eBooks to offer another way to access the information with in my articles and video presentations.
In 2016 I created and published an additional 4 eBooks.
My eBooks are free for download and contain information that have empowered my ability to pursue my dreams and my destiny despite being deemed unemployable and declared disabled. Below is a list of links to my 9 eBooks. Click on each of the links and the e Books will open for you.
As stated my 9 eBooks are free to download. Click on the following link for downloading instructions: Downloading Instructions.
A List of the e Books that I have Written and Published
After much thought and prayer, on June 16, 2015; I decided to create a new website Create a Spark of Hope – to share what I discovered that has helped me to begin to create sparks of hope in my own life. I wrote a total of 54 articles and an e Book for Create a Spark of Hope.
With the time, kindness and patience of a good friend on August 2, 2015 Second Chance to Live and Create a Spark of Hope moved from wordpress.com to managed wordpress websites. I wrote an article to share the news: Second Chance to Live, a Metamorphosis and a New Look
A New Home for Create a Spark of Hope
Due financial reason I closed the website Create a Spark of Hope on July 1, 2016. No worries though. Create a Spark of Hope has moved to Second Chance of Live. Articles from Create a Spark of Hope can now be found in newly created category.To read articles from Create a Spark of Hope, simply click on this link: Create a Spark of Hope Category. Create a Spark of Hope e Book can be downloaded by clicking on this link: It’s Never too Late to Create Hope e Book Free Download
In 2008 I created a tool that would give individuals the ability to translate articles on Second Chance to Live into different languages. Below are links to the represented languages. By clicking on the desired language Second Chance to Live will be translated into that language.
The tool can also be accessed from my upper right side bar on Second Chance to Live. In the event the links do not open for you, please let me know. Thank you.
Languages Represented in the Tool
Albanian Arabic Bulgarian Catalan Chinese Simplified Chinese Traditional Croatian Czech Danish Dutch Estonian Filipino Finnish French Galician German Greek Hebrew Hindi Hungarian Indonesian Italian Japanese Korean Lativian Lithuanian Maltese Norwegian Polish Portuguese Romanian Russian Serbian Slovak Slovenian Spanish Swedish Thai Turkish Ukrainian Vietnamese
In response to the article Back Ground Information for Keynote Presentation Craig Phillips Founder and Creator Second Chance to Live Southwest Conference on Disability 2013, Ken Collins wrote:
Wow! What a story of accomplishment! Craig, you stared adversity right in the eye and said: “Get out of the way – I have something to do with my life! Way to go! There needs to be more people in the world like you!
Ken Collins, Program Manager at San Juan Center for Independence, Gallup, New Mexico
Craig’s message is universal. “You can find your way thru tragedy and build a new life.” It may not be the life you had before, but Craig’s message of hope, empowerment and love can help you discover your second chance to live – and live well. I am grateful for Craig’s beautiful writings. They inspire me and bring me comfort. As a speaker, Craig, speaks from the heart and is a living testament to his message. I am honored to know and learn from Craig Phillips.
Viki Kind, MA Bioethicist and author of The Caregiver’s Path to Compassionate Decision Making: Making Choices for Those Who Can’t – January 18, 2014 4:58 pm
Testimonials from the 2013 Southwest Conference on Disability Keynote Presentation
Niketa P. Sheth, MPA
Senior Vice President, Quality of Life Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
I met Craig at the 2013 Southwest Conference on Disability, where he spoke as one of the keynote speakers for the conference. His remarkable words of inspiration moved hundreds of individuals in the room. Craig has an impressive ability to share his personal experience in a way that just about anyone can relate. His remarks brought strength and motivation to many in the audience. Craig has also invested much time and effort in creating many resources for individuals. I admire Craig’s dedication to inspire our community through his work with Second Chance to Live.
Rolf B. Gainer, PhD
Chief Executive Officer
Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute at Brookhaven Hospital
Craig Phillips is an exceptional person who has constructed his life to help others. I had the privilege to meet Craig, in person, at the 2013 Southwest Disability Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico in October 2013 where he was a keynote speaker. I had known Craig prior to that conference through his website and on-line presence where we had the opportunity to interact and learn about his work. What is impressive about Craig is his forthright manner about discussing his brain injury, it’s impact on his life and his devotion to helping others through Second Chance to Live. Craig has written a blog on our NeuroNotes which has brought his work to others living with brain injury.
To read more Testimonials, please click on this link: Testimonials / Endorsements
In July 2012 I wrote an article to share how I learned to live on a fixed income. To read the article, click on this link: How to Manage Money while Living on SSDI — Social Security Disability Insurance
Over the past 9 1/2 years I have written an article series, My Journey thus Far to share highlights. Highlights from my process and journey with Second Chance to Live. Below are links to each part of the article series. Click on each part and the article will open for you.
I want to thank you for being a friend of Second Chance to Live. I look forward to being of service to you and your family.
In the event that you know of anyone who you believe could benefit, please share Second Chance to Live with them.
In the event that you have any questions, please send those questions to me. All questions are good questions and welcomed.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Have a great day.
Below are several quotes that have encouraged, motivated, empowered and given me hope.
“Be encouraged my friend, our circumstances are not meant to keep us down, but they are meant to build us up.” Craig J. Phillips MRC, BA
“Do not wait for leaders, do it alone, person to person.” Mother Teresa
“If you advance confidently in the direction of your dreams and endeavor to life the life that you have imagine…you will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” Henry David Thoreau
“Do not judge your day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.” Robert Louis Stevenson
“Insist on yourself, never imitate. Your own gift you can present with the cumulative force of a whole life’s cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another you only have an extemporaneous half-possession…Do that which is assigned to you, and you can not hope too much or dare too much.”Ralph Waldo Emerson
“You don’t have to be a person of influence to be influential. In fact, the most influential people in my life are probably not even aware of the things they’ve taught me.” Scott Adams — American Cartoonist
Try Something New
“Everyone is trying to do some thing big, not realizing that life is made up of small things.” Frank A Clark
“I have heard that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. The good news is that once we start walking on that journey, before long we will be able to look back and see how far we have come on our journey — because we did not give up.” Craig J. Phillips MRC, BA
“…You see, in the final analysis it is between you and God; it was never between you and them anyway.” Mother Teresa
“For I know the plans that I have for you – says the Lord – plans for good and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 Old Testament
You have my permission to share my articles and or video presentations with anyone you believe could benefit, however please attribute me as being the author of the article (s) video presentation (s), and provide a link back to the article (s) on Second Chance to Live. In the event that you have questions, please send those questions to me. All questions are good questions. Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you. Copyright 2007-2016.