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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



Guest post: The gifts of my traumatic brain injury

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This inspiring young man has written another post for us. Here he explains how he tackled the negative thoughts he was plagued with following his traumatic brain injury. In fact, he is now able to be so positive about it that he has named some of the gifts he feels his brain injury has given him.

About the Author:

Brandon Leuangpaseuth is a writer from San Diego, CA that helps various brain injury attorneys across the country with their public relations. You can connect with him on LinkedIn @ bleuangpaseuth.C

When I was only 20-years old, I was hit by a car. My body was flung 20-feet across the freeway.

I shattered my jaw, collarbone, nose, and it left me with a serious traumatic brain injury (TBI). After a month, I was released from the hospital. I quickly realized how difficult life would be living with a TBI. I had all the symptoms of a severe traumatic brain injury. I had short-term memory loss, fatigued easily, slept more than usual, suffered dreadful migraines, etc.

After I was released from the hospital, I spiralled into a deep depression.

How was I going to find a job?
How was I going to graduate from college?
How was I going to pursue my dreams with this disability?

Imagine being so young and sustaining such a life-altering injury. It felt like my world came crashing down…and it was hard to get out of bed every day. When I did get out of bed, I found myself walking around the block countlessly worrying about my future. I sought help from a therapist to help ease the burden of these constant negative thoughts. I recall in a session, I broke down and sobbed to the therapist about how I would never be the same again after my brain injury. As I gushed out my sorrows, I remember my therapist looking down at her notepad, slowly back
up at me and then muttered: “what if this was a gift?”
Those words shook me like a tremoring earthquake. I stared at her wide-eyed for what seemed like an eternity. How could receiving a brain injury be a gift? I thought to myself.

— Fast forward 4 years later–

Now, 4 years after I received my traumatic brain injury, I can look back and see what my therapist was trying to do. The effects of my brain injury were still there, but my perception of how the effects impacted my life changed. This helped me adapt and cope with living with my brain injury better.
Of course, life is different with a brain injury, but changing my perception of the effects of my brain injury has helped me cope a lot.
Here are the gifts my TBI has given me 🙂

1. It Made Me More Organized

At first, after I received the brain injury, I tried to remember all the things that I needed to do during the day in my head as I had prior to getting hit by the car. Not surprisingly, I failed… miserably. I would mix up things up in my schedule and always forget to do certain tasks that I needed to do on some days…
I remember one day in an outpatient therapy session at my intensive rehab centre, my therapist told me something that stuck with me.
“You do not need a good memory as long as you have good reminder systems in place. Use your phone, calendar, and computer to help you build reminder systems to where it is almost impossible to forget!”
After I heard that, I made it an effort to strategically develop systems to where I did not have to rely on my memory too much. If someone told me to do something or I had to do something in the future, I would immediately set up reminders on my phone to go off and remind me. I would develop to-do lists on my phone almost every day laying out what needed to get done as well as
maintain an up to date calendar with all the events or things I had to do in my life. I outsourced that part of my brain to technology.
The result?
I am way more organized and on top of my stuff more so than I was prior to the accident! I have become so organized, it is very rare (and even bizarre!) for me to miss something. I have developed good organization systems and habits that made me on top of all my stuff. I am grateful that my TBI has helped organize my life.

2. I Prioritized My Life

One of the most impactful effects of my TBI is that I fatigued easier. Experiencing this really made me look back at my life and realize I took my energy for granted when I was younger. I used to have a ton of energy to do things all day–nonstop! That changed after the accident.
This symptom of quick fatigue is the most prevalent one in my life today and is still tough to adapt to. I only have a set amount of energy to do things in my life before I received a numbing brain fog and I exhausted…
I quickly learned how to reevaluate and prioritize my life. This meant I had to rank in my life what was important for me to get done and decide where I had to allocate my little energy too. In other words, I only did what was important to me.
I cut out a lot of meaningless activities in my life such as watching television or aimlessly browsing the internet to hone in on the truly vital activities like exercising or hanging out with friends. I had to say “no” to activities in my life that would not be a good use of my resources. This has led me to really consider my values and what is important to me in my life!

3. I Accidentally Stopped Taking Things Too Personally

The majority of the time, having bad memory can be onerous to deal with. Always forgetting things can make life more difficult. However, I think there is one positive trait of having my abysmal memory. I accidentally stopped taking things too personally.
What I mean by this is that I would just forget about certain negative interactions and move on. Before the accident, I used to get so caught up on little things like a someone not texting me back, insults or someone making me mad. These interactions would often ruin my day and stay on my mind for weeks upon weeks. I would think about them as I went about my life way past
after they occurred. These things would stay on my mind way longer than I would care to admit. Now, I just naturally forget about the interactions.
I would often forget if I had texted someone in the first place and they didn’t respond or if an interaction went sour. I would just forget and move on. My poor memory was a blessing in disguise in regards to this aspect of my life.

4. Got Me In The Habit Of Taking Care Of Myself

Brain injuries are tricky injuries. If you break a bone, you can get an x-ray and see if the injury healed or the bones mended back together. For the brain, it is tougher to measure or see. I remember sitting in my neurologist’s office and her telling me that the best thing I can do to heal my brain would be to take care of myself. She mentioned to me that I should eat right, exercise, get a lot of sleep and avoid alcohol.
I took her words to heart. Since I could not see the healing of my brain in an x-ray or anything like that, I promised myself to take care of myself, do my best to give my brain the best chance to heal and just hope for the best.
I started to eat a really clean diet, I consistently attended the gym, avoided alcohol for a year, and was often in bed really early. This habit of taking care of myself did wonders for my brain injuries’ healing as well as in all other aspects of my life. I noticed substantial progress in my ability to remember things, I felt better all of the time and I got in great shape! Receiving a brain injury has made me adapt to a healthier lifestyle.
Change Your Perspective! In the last 4 years, with some help, I barely managed to graduate from college and was still able find an amazing career. I credit a lot my mental health progress to my paradigm shift on how I viewed my brain injury.
If there is one message I want to pass along to other brain injury survivors or other people, in general, is that sometimes you cannot change things that happen to you but you are responsible for how you perceive or react to them.
If you suffer from a TBI, try to reframe your perception of the effects of it. Living with a TBI can be burdensome. How I see it, is that I cannot really change the effects of the TBI, however, I could change my perception of how they impact my life to a more positive one. Try it out! Try to perceive your brain injury or supposedly negative events in your life in a more
positive light. I am sure it will help you cope and be happier 🙂

Has your brain injury resulted in any positive changes that you now see as gifts?


4 replies on “Guest post: The gifts of my traumatic brain injury”

I love this perspective, and I love that the therapist asked it as a question – What if it’s a gift? Any time bad things happen, I think it’s worth asking. It’s also OK to answer “no.” Sometimes the realization of the gift comes later.

I completely agree. It took me time to realise that the brain injury gave me the opportunity to better understand what my dad was going through as he succumbed to Alzheimer’s. And that meant he was able to be more open and honest about what he needed help with because he knew I wasn’t judging him. Now I use that gift in the work I do, so everything happens for a reason.

This is a great outlook, I too had the same experience at 19 years of age, then a second TBI at 37 ! It was like starting over. I finally got back to full time work and my own new business !
Then the dreaded MVA and my third TBI I am a living testimony to faith and self healing. One lesson I learned the hard way.
Be kind to yourself, make yourself rest, get vision therapy and use the best tools you can find your better organize yourself. It is a gift and I’m truly blessed, after each TBI your another person and can create new talents.
Be ready to accept your gift ?

Dayna thank you for sharing your story because it shows how we can still have hope and we don’t have to give up on our dreams

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