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March 5, 2013 / Mark Kerrigan

How Do You Make Your TBI Work for YOU?


CAD_WINTER_2012_2013_300x400Okay, you now have a head injury, a brain injury, a BI, ABI, or whatever you may choose to call it. What are you going to do about it? DEAL WITH IT??? Hell no. I submit that just sitting passively by and allowing whatever happens to happen, although that can be beneficial at times, can be detrimental later in your recovery. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, it’s been 23 years and 11 months since my TBI, and it took me most of that to get to this point. Some may never get there, some may be approaching this point, and still others may already be here. Just like every BI is different, the way survivors handle it is totally different.

This past weekend, I was listening to NPR and heard someone talking about having a mental disorder. He was diagnosed as being bi-polar. That’s no laughing matter, and although it is possible to manage that condition with medication, it can be debilitating. The radio guest who was a “performer” — I guess sorta like a comedian, actor — talked about putting his condition to work for him.

“When I was 16,” he said, “I had my first truly manic episode.” He was in San Francisco walking around believing that he was Jesus Christ, the Son of God. “There’s no amount of drugs you can take to give you a better high than truly believing that you’re Jesus Christ.” Now he talks about that in his act, and it works for him.

I thought, That’s really cool. He’s putting his mental condition to work for him! I realized that thiat was what I’m doing with with my TBI. I’ve been writing for years about having a BI and eventually I hope to market my writings commercially. (If you’re interested, give me a call!) While I deal with problems as a result of my injury, I have decided that I rather than just dealing with it and floating down a river like a leaf, I embrace it as being part of who I am!

As survivors of almost any trauma have to realize that “they are not” their affliction, I have had to realize that I am not my brain injury. It is a part of me; it is not all of me. While there is a risk of denial when dealing with BI — especially for someone who has recently acquired it — coming to the realization, the understanding, that you are not the injury is extremely important. At the same time, it’s equally important to accept that you have an injury, and that you have changed.

There are, or there will be, major psychological changes. Now I have a bit of a temper, and I have to remember that my anger, or my BI, does not define me. When I lose my temper at home with my son or wife, my wonderful, smart, beautiful wife tells my son that it’s not me but rather my BI.

How do I know this? Because I wasn’t prone to explosive anger or rage before my accident. I was, on the other hand, gregarious. My BI only accentuates my friendliness. I don’t meet strangers, I only meet friends I haven’t made yet.

Learning to make your BI work for you is a trick, but it can be done if you really work at it. Discover new ways to capitalize on your condition. And know that you are not your injury. It is part of you.

Keep getting better, and I’ll talk to you soon!

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