My friend Trina Tbi Chambers-Bradlee posted some thing on her Facebook page that prompted me to write this article: “Does anyone feel like sharing their story? It can be quite liberating, and inspiring to others…for us to share how we were injured. I think my Survival Story is still pinned to the top of the page…But I’d be interested to hear anyone else’s, if anyone feels like sharing…”. Thank you for your encouragement Trina. Your suggestion helped to confirm what I have felt led to write about in today’s article. Thank you for encouraging survivors to share their stories. I like you, believe that tremendous benefits can be gained through sharing one’s story as a brain injury survivor.
I would like to share some benefits that I have discovered through sharing my story and journey as a traumatic brain injury survivor. Ultimately, I believe that we are the benefactors of telling our stories. What I mean is that although other people may be inspired and empowered by our stories, telling our stories help us to embrace who we are as individuals who have sustained traumatic brain injuries. Let me explain. For many brain injury survivors, once the external wounds have healed, people — family members and friends — tend to believe that if they can’t see the injury, the injury does not exist. Consequently, as time moves on so does the notion, “that if it can not be seen, it does not exist”.
In my experience, once my fractured skull healed and I taught myself how to walk, talk, read, write, speak in complete sentences –by the grace of God, hard work, tenacity and persistence — and was mainstreamed back into elementary school the findings of the EEG’s and the Cognitive / Psycho Social Testing were dismissed. The impact of my fractured skull, frontal lobe damage, severe brain bruise and remaining in a coma for 3 weeks — at the age of 10 — were dismissed as an event that had no significance. Nevertheless, the impact of my traumatic brain injury continued to “haunt” me for the next 37 years; until I reached a point in my life when I could no longer dismiss or deny my reality.
In my experience, I had to reach a point in my life where the pain of denying my reality, needed to exceed my need to deny my reality to go along to get along. As a result, I paid a huge price as I internalized the difficulties that I encountered as a reflection of who I was as an individual. Through reaching a place where I could no longer deny my reality, I was given the gift to be able to begin to grieve my reality. By doing so, I started to understand how the traumatic brain injury, that I experienced when I was 10 years old; impacted my life and well-being. By doing so I was able to begin to grow in self-acceptance, self-awareness, self-esteem, self-worth and dignity as an individual.
In my experience, I found that I could not stop buying into the different denial systems that sought to keep me in denial until I moved through a process of grieving. By doing so, I was able to sort out what was my reality, amidst the denial, that sought to keep me stuck and in effect, fighting against myself. As I sorted through the grieving process, I gained the ability begin to connect the “dots” and find the “missing pieces”, that I discarded many years ago. As I faced my denial, I began to accept my reality. As I gained increasing clarity into my actual story –I discovered how my life had been and was being impacted by my traumatic brain injury.
As I gained clarity, I was able to get into action and see my life change. I discovered that the process was worth the effort. By doing the work, I gained clarity into my story. In the process, I was able to separate the denial that sought to hold me captive, from what I could accomplish despite being impacted by a traumatic brain injury. In the process, I discovered that I could live my life in a different way. In the process, I discovered my strengths and abilities. In the process I discovered how to use what I had been given in ways that would work for me. In the process, I discovered hope.
Several years ago, I wrote an article series to share what I learned through my process of facing denial as a traumatic brain injury survivor. Through facing and working through my denial I was able to begin to understand my story, so that I could share my story. By facing my denial, I was able to begin to move to a greater acceptance of myself as an individual who is living with the impact of a traumatic brain injury. I have included links to each of the 5 parts of the article below. I divided the article into parts because of the length of the article. My encouragement would be that you read through each part of the article, to gain the benefit of the entire article. What I learned about myself, may benefit you my friend.
As you listen to, watch or read my articles and questions come to mind, please send those questions to mind. All questions are good questions. In the event that you would like to leave a comment, I would love to hear from you.To do so, please use the below contact form. I will respond to your comments and questions.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Receive more articles like this one simply by clicking on Subscribe to Second Chance to Live by email
Bookmark and and read articles from Second Chance to Live in a Feed Reader by clicking on the following links:
All material presented on Second Chance to Live is copyright and cannot be, copied, reproduced, or distributed in any way without the express, written consent of Craig J. Phillips, MRC, BA Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC- ND