Living with a brain injury can leave us feeling isolated and alienated. Isolated and alienated from ourselves and other people.
The impact of the Covid-19 virus intensify these feelings of isolation and alienation as we are “cut” off from other people.
I have created a video presentation of this article for individuals who learn through watching and listening. To watch and listen to the video presentations, click on this link: Living with a Brain Injury, the Covid-19 Virus and Feelings of Isolation Video Presentation
Recently I was asked a question in a comment in our Building Your Life after Traumatic Brain Injury Facebook Community.
The question in the comment surrounded an individual who was feeling isolated, alienated, and talking about suicide.
The individual asked if I had any suggestions to give to the individual who is feeling isolated, alienated and talking about suicide.
Article that Helped Me
In May of 2007 I wrote and published an article. In this article, I shared what helped me to find the freedom to discover and be myself. What helped me to find the freedom to come out of hiding. What helped me to find a freedom from feelings of self-alienation and self-reproach. Below is an excerpt and a revision of the article. The information may all help you to not feel isolated and alienated. Isolated and alienated from yourself and other people.
Don’t Talk, Don’t Trust and Don’t Feel.
“I believe that the title of this article sums up a theme that reeks havoc in many people’s lives. These 3 rules mandated that I adhere to them without question. In the process, I had to discard parts of me on a regular basis in order to avoid negative repercussions. In the process of maintaining these 3 rules, my creative uniqueness shriveled and my energy died. These 3 rules kept me isolated, believing that I was a victim of my circumstances.
Appeared to Protect me at the Time
Although these 3 rules appeared to protect me at the time, they entrapped me in a web of deception. These rules kept me bound because they alienated me from a loving God, from others, and from myself. Obeying the 3 rules kept me stuck in the shadows of isolation. The 3 rules fed my denial and the denial of family and friends. These 3 rules undermined my ability to trust myself. These 3 rules kept me focused on matters that were out of my control.
Not Just Cliches
When I began attending support meetings in August of 1986, I heard these rules discussed by the people attending the meetings. At first, these three statements sounded like clichés. As I continued to attend meetings and listened I started to understand how these three rules laid the foundation and perpetuated many dysfunctional behaviors and beliefs. When I first heard these rules discussed I was isolated, afraid of being rejected and frozen in my emotions. I had no idea what I felt beyond being glad or angry.
Getting in My Way
Through attending meetings and becoming involved in my own recovery process, I was able to understand how these rules had gotten in my way many years. As I listened to what people shared in meetings I found the courage to begin to break the 3 rules.
What I discovered about the 3 Rules
Three rules are often used to mask reality. These rules give way to a state of helplessness. When helplessness becomes a learned behavior, individuals are led to believe they are trapped by their circumstances. Instead of seeking to learn and grow from their circumstances, being a victim becomes an alternative way of living. Unconsciously, living is reduced to a series of events to be endured and hopefully survived each day. Drama replaces a passion for living. Drama becomes the WAY to feel alive. Rather than seeking to be empowered, individuals are led to believe that their success is measured by their ability to survive what happens in their lives. Instead of learning to thrive in life, individuals are led to believe that “this” is the best it is going to be.
Circumstances are not Adversaries
Instead of seeing their circumstances as a portal to possibilities, they are led to believe that their circumstances are adversaries. As adversaries given to them to hinder and undermine their ability to reach their dreams and experience hope in their lives. Not only does this belief undermine the creative capacity of the individual, it also perpetuates a fear of failure and a cynical outlook on life. Circumstances and opportunities are equally revered, as a nemesis to be reckoned with on a daily basis. Living is subsequently reduced to merely “clocking in” and “clocking out” each day (as a disgruntled employee) hoping that the minutes and the hours pass by with increasing speed. Instead of seeing circumstances as opportunities, circumstances are seen as getting in the way.
The Impact of the 3 Rules upon my Life
I spent a large part of my life running as fast as I could to avoid having to talk, trust or feel. I viewed life as a dress rehearsal, to be lived later. But later never seemed to come for me. Through maintaining the belief, that I could do nothing more than surviving what was doled out to me, I became a resident reactor. I found myself jumping like a cat on a hot tin roof. Sure, I trusted God with my life, but I saw the actual living part as a battlefield. I felt like a soldier who found himself in a foxhole, attempting to protect himself from every direction. This way of life drained and depleted me spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Because I did not know any better, I continued in this way of thinking and relating to life, other people, and myself until I reached a bottom.
Reach a Bottom
I reached an emotional bottom when a relationship ended. The disappointment from that break up changed my life. The emotional pain proved to be the catalyst that motivated me to seek solutions. I began to break the three rules, Don’t talk, Don’t Trust and Don’t Feel. I started attending support group meetings, where I listened to other people break the 3 rules by talking, trusting and by sharing what they felt. With time, I felt safe and began to process what I thought and felt. As I did people listened and told me to keep coming back. As I shared my pain they listened without judgment. As I continued to feel safe, I slowly began to share more of myself, learn to trust and understand what I was actually feeling. As I continued to share, my outlook on life changed.
Build Up My Life
I began to see my circumstances in a different way. I began to see my circumstances as a way to build me up. As a way to teach me lessons that prepare me to take advantage of opportunities. I began to see my circumstances as a way to come out of hiding. I began to see my circumstances as a way to create hope in my life. I began to see my circumstances as a way to discover and follow my dreams. I began to see my circumstances as guides to my destiny. I began to see my circumstances as a way to have a relationship with my process, a loving God and myself. I began to see my circumstances as a way to have relationships with other people. I began to see my circumstances as a way to discover myself. I began to see my circumstances as a way to express my creativity.
Encouragement and Invitation
In the event that what I shared above sounds familiar, I would encourage you to explore finding a safe place where you can process, your thoughts, your feelings and learn to trust. Where you can feel safe to come out of hiding. Where you can find freedom from feelings of alienation. Where you can take a look to see how these 3 rules may be affecting and impacting your quality of life.