You might even be that way forever. It depends on the way you sustained your brain injury and how severe it is. Regarding my situation, I sustained a mild traumatic brain injury going on 6 months ago as I write this post and I don’t feel like who I was before. I will say that I have made some good progress, especially regaining some fitness and stability. I’m having a tougher time in the cognitive recovery department. I didn’t lose the ability to think and write coherently but soon after my crash I really froze up in response to outside stimuli. I couldn’t speak smoothly, I didn’t understand what people said. I heard things wrong – the list of things going wrong cognitively was long. And being as impatient as I am, if that list only consists of 3 things now, it is 4 items too long.
It’s this feeling different that has hit me quite hard and you hear that from most every brain injury victim. It’s like we all took a trip down to the local Bashed-in-Noggins for a sundae with one of their famous 31 flavors. There are so many things that can go wrong with your brain during all the different ways it can get injured. Plus there are so many different ways a person is normal so this area of BI recovery is perhaps the most vexing since no one knows your goal of normalcy but you. And well, you have this brain injury making it hard to know how you feel anyway, much less make anyone without a BI understand.
I heard one of the folks at a brain injury support group meeting say that even though you feel like your old self again something is different nonetheless. It’s as if there’s a letter missing from your name. I agree. I look the same but now I’m not really Peter Wick. The ‘W’ is missing. That’s right. Ick. You know, from the Latin, Ick. At least I still make jokes about myself all the time. I have more to say about that later.
Another way to look at it could be using a computer analogy. That thing on your desk might look the same but something is wrong with the CPU. Your 8 GB’s of random access memory might have a glitch in it somewhere. Maybe the operating system has changed from PW 1.0 to PW 1.1 in the Windows world. Or if you’re a Droid user you went from a tasty treat like KitKat to a new OS just for you, like MincePie. It could be a nice change for all you know but it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
And that whole everyone’s cup of tea thing is a big problem. You think you want the old you back? The people in your life want version 1.0 back, too. They became friends with You v1.0. Some even fell in love with You v1.0. They worked with, got along with, liked and loved You v1.0. Not everyone wants to upgrade to You v1.1, or even You v1.01. How do you deal with people in your life that don’t understand how you feel? Don’t understand why you’re not your old self again. I’ve faced some of it already and I want to tell them that I’m still in here. I’m right here. And, yes, I’m trying to get back everything I lost. I’m really hoping it’s temporary. I’m really trying. Most everyone is.
One of my new friends from the brain injury group [call her Sarah] stopped me dead in my tracks one time while out walking. Someone Sarah had been friends with before her injury turned out to not be much of a friend after all. Apparently she couldn’t deal with Sarah when she came back after several long months in rehabilitation. Shortly after Sarah’s reemergence into the real world this friend told her that she was ending their friendship. She just wasn’t comfortable with her anymore. I haven’t known Sarah long and didn’t know her before her injury but let me tell ya, I want to get to be as normal as she is one day. She’s just not the same person she was and it isn’t good enough for this person.
At least she had the good graces to tell Sarah her decision. Most people just seem to disappear. You’re just not the same person. They might not be able to handle it. They probably don’t understand. They might be busy with their own lives. You might very well be too much work and not enough fun for them anymore. Maybe they think you aren’t really interested in fighting back. That you really should have a better attitude. I heard this last one a bunch of times; it’s a great pick-me-up.
That paragraph could be really long with such sentences but you get the drift. Unfortunately, a brain injury is not like a more visible injury. People don’t have a visual cue to recognize. Plus, that brain injury often messes with your emotional stability and perspective, two important things needed for that positive attitude everyone thinks you should have.