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Brain injury blog by survivor

Brain injury blog by survivor



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Brain injury blog by survivor

Brain injury blog by survivor



Most people need descent sleep to be able to function well in their day to day lives. But for brain injury survivors it’s their life line. Sleep allows the brain time to recover from the day, and when you have a brain injury your poor little noggin runs close to melt down a lot. I have tried to explain this to friends and family, but I’m not sure everyone quite understands. It could be that because I don’t work they think I can just catch up on sleep some other time. And this is true, but that doesn’t mean it fits in with my schedule. So does it make me a bad friend for not wanting to take their calls when I’m trying to sleep?

How much is too much?

I have always tried to be the friend I wish I had, so if someone has an emergency I will try to help. That has included times when people have had a night on the town, and suddenly realised they haven’t got any money for a taxi home. So I have dragged myself out of bed to go rescue them. It’s the right thing to do, and I wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to them just because I was too lazy to help them in their hour of need.

There have been times that people just need a chat because they are feeling really low. Again, I understand the need to feel there is someone out there who will listen when you are facing hard times. So I have taken many of these calls in the middle of the night and tried to be helpful. But when this starts to become a pattern I feel like I don’t want to keep doing it. My partner James tells me to ignore it as I can’t physically continue, but that makes me a bad friend. It’s  not that I don’t care, I do empathise with them. I would happily take their call during the day, or evening, because that’s better for my schedule. They would get more from me then as my brain would be in a better condition to respond.

I’m not using my brain injury as an excuse.

They say you can count your real friends on the fingers of one hand. (I’m not sure if that means you can include your thumb or not.) But thinking like that can make you more sceptical about people and give up on them too early if all the fingers on that hand have already been booked. But I do find it difficult to reconcile how when someone knows about my brain injury, why they would continue to push my boundaries. Perhaps they think I use it as an excuse seeing as I have recovered a lot (but will never fully.) I’m not saying they are being a bad friend when this happens, but I do need a little more understanding from them.

If you find the brain injury survivor in your life doesn’t always respond how you need them to, maybe a change in your approach might help.

  • Consider time – are they going to be well enough or will they be battling with brain fog?

  • Think about location – try to minimise distractions. You might think it’s great to meet for coffee, but the ambient noise might be overwhelming for them.
  • Are they better face to face or on the phone? – when you can’t see a persons face to get the social cues from their expressions, it can put extra pressure on word finding and understanding. This can be even more draining.
  • Judging when they are flagging – it’s nothing personal when we run out of energy. An intense conversation sucks our reserves like how the battery on your phone depletes when you use it non stop. Please remember to consider how they are coping even when your crisis hasn’t found a resolution or closure.

A brain injury doesn’t turn you into a bad friend, I just like to think of myself as a “very limited edition.” (Pun intended.) I can’t solve everything, or get involved as much. You can still get great things from me, but they are precious so it’s only while stocks last.

If I don't take a friends call in the middle of the night because I need to recharge my brain, does that make my a bad friend? I want to help, but my brain injury imposes it's own limitations on what I have to offer.

Do you question if your brain injury has made you a bad friend? Is it reasonable to put a limit on what friendship means? 


8 replies on “Is my brain injury making me a bad friend?”

I think it’s easy to put a lot of pressure on ourselves. Brain injury affects our mental capacities and therefore our thinking before we say things. It also affects our endurance, so too much stimulation weighs on us more than it used to.

We need to let other people know this. We ALSO need to respect and limit the expectations we put on ourselves, like automatically responding to someone else’s need.

It doesn’t mean we’re “not good friends.” It does mean we have to change what we choose to be involved in so that the quality of our relationships is good.

I have been told before that the expectations I put on myself are unreasonable. I hold myself to higher standards than I put on others which shows I make things difficult for myself. So I think that you’re right Ellen.

20 years and I still cannot get it together enough to start a blog. Thank you for starting yours….

If you ever want to write a guest post for me please just let me know. Running a blog takes more time and effort than I thought it would when I started it, so I’m trying to help others get their stories out there through me site.

We all have an amazing mental/spiritual connection with the people we love and it is that kind of bond that close friends have with each other, where they/we can feel if there is something ailing with one another. Real friends know that you have special needs when your brain is injured, either by a TBI or in my case, a degenerative disease like Multiple Sclerosis where one develops lesions in their brain where the fatty protein called Myelin that coats the nerves is attacked by our own autoimmune system. That said, the only reasonable expectations one should set for themselves is meeting small baby-steps goals, and through willpower, persistence, and repetition, with reasonable rest in between, we can invoke our built-in-from-birth process called neuroplasticity, to repair or reroute neural pathways, and heal and/or recover lost dexterity.

Thanks Phil. I do consider H a real friend and I’m sure if she’d seen me she would have known something wasn’t right. We are such good friends that we don’t need to work at our relationship and call each other all the time to maintain it. We can just pick off when we left off, there’s no pressure, it’s a very natural connection which is handy as we live so far apart. (I moved to the other side of the country long before my accident, so I take full responsibility for the physical distance involved.)

Yes, that’s the beauty of close friendships, they are effortless and distance isn’t a factor! The human brain’s information speed has been clocked at 268 miles per hour. This is among the 1 quadrillion connections it makes from its some 86 billion neurons to other neurons so when we think of someone, it doesn’t take long at all to reach them no matter how far away they are. Thank you for all you are doing!

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