*** This post is for written mainly for TBI survivors and their loved ones, but my hope is that anyone going through a change in their lives find it helpful, or at least informative.
"A lot has changed in the last few years. I'm going down different paths than I expected. That's because I let go of control and grabbed God."
- Jarrid Wilson
When I left the hospital after my accident, my number one priority was to get back to the old Jeff. The one with the healthy brain, ability to multitask, quick wit, great sense of humor (That one is up for debate!), calm disposition, and easygoing personality. About a year later, I figured out this wasn't going to happen and I became depressed. I wasn't used to feeling depressed so this led to significant anxiety as well. I believe the primary cause of this, in addition to my damaged brain structure, was that I had set unattainable goals. And when I couldn't reach them, I felt like a failure.
It took a change in my mindset, which was aided by medications and counseling, but I eventually started the process of reconfiguring my unhealthy way of thinking. I think this started when I finally admitted that TBI had forever changed me and I was going to be different. I had new interests. I had a new personality. And no matter how much effort I put into it, I wasn't going back to who I was before. I am not implying that TBI survivors should stop working to get better, but they need to be wise and focus on who they are now and improving that which can be improved.
When I finally admitted I was never going back to the old Jeff, I started focusing on the new Jeff. I began to focus less on my weaknesses, focusing more on what strengths I still had and even ones I had gained. I became okay with the fact that I was different. Once I did this, I started looking for ways to utilize my strengths. I realized that even though I was changed, I still had a purpose.
Survivors of traumatic brain injury are presented with a wide range of emotions. They recognize that they are lucky to have survived their brain injury because, typically, whatever caused it could have easily taken their life. People who feel the same way will often remind them how "lucky" they are and they will begin to feel guilty because they don't feel "lucky.". I know I felt this way. They are also confused because, even though their appearance may be the same, inside they are not sure who they are anymore. The many emotions that occur as a result of brain injury lead many survivors to lose hope and they begin to feel like their life lacks meaning.
I, too, went through a stage where I felt my life lacked purpose, but eventually, I found it. If for whatever reason you are feeling this way, I want to you to know that if you are still living, you still have a purpose. But your purpose can only be found after you accept who you are, let go of who you aren't anymore, and grab hold of what you have been given!