If nothing else, TBI is certainly a journey. Many use the comparison of a roller coaster because of how many ups and downs are inherent but I don’t think that’s quite accurate. With a roller coaster the ups and downs are quick and intense. While that can apply, TBI and it’s associated recovery is not quick. Intense at times, yes. But rarely quick. For most the only thing quick was whatever lead to the injury itself. Whether sports injury, accident, stroke, burst aneurysm; we’re never prepared for when it comes and then, it’s just part of our life.
Just. Like. That.
So what would I compare TBI to if not a roller coaster? Parenting comes to mind. It also has moments of intensity. Sometimes that intensity is good, sometimes not so much. It has many ebbs and flows and like TBI recovery, is for life. There is no real end until the real end comes. It’s a constant learning and applying process with changes and education often coming after mistakes have already been made. Books, studies, and opinions are often read and applied in a variety of ways and every so often the shit will hit the fan. Yes, parenting and TBI have much in common.
Learning, adapting, emotional breakdowns, wondering how to correct and fix, these are daily feelings of each. They also escalate at times depending on the day and situation. There is also no area in life that isn’t impacted by each. Work, rest, financial habits, down time, nutrition habits, all affected.
But there’s also the good. Yes, there can be and often is good, that comes with receiving a traumatic brain injury as weird as that may sound.
Many people report becoming more connected to life. They understand it’s value much more and tend to take it less for granted.
An increase in empathy is often mentioned as well. Not just for other’s who had a similar injury, but for anyone who’s had trials and tribulations. Being injured, especially if it’s invisible gives some insight into the behaviors of others we may not have paid attention to, or experienced, prior.
The ability and desire to help others. Many in the TBI community use their experiences and the researched they’d done to aid their own recovery with others. And that pushes research and knowledge of the subject further. The reality is TBI is likely to always be a problem because we now understand just how sensitive our brains are to outside influences and with knowledge of how our brains work still in it’s infancy, the more data and the more experiences available for study, the better not just for individuals but for humanity as a whole going forward.
Whether it’s parenting, TBI, or frankly, life, the journey is where our focus is best served. There will be struggle day to day, week to week, even year to year at times but by focusing on the journey, by journaling our experiences, by trying and failing, we can continue to grow and improve.
Just like we teach out children to do.