Trying to reflect back to the beginning stages of my TBI is very difficult. The memory can’t be pulled up to the present for me. I remember the initial injury and what happened. The following days, my mind seemed to be a haze, like a fog settled in. The first couple of months of recovery are extremely vague to me. My wife told me I had a very difficult time determining if I was awake or sleeping. Everything seemed and felt as it was a dreamlike state of mind. I was injured on Sept. 12th 2017.(So not even a full year, to date.)
My Birthday ,(in October), Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas were a complete blur. I know I attended some of the Family Festivities, because I’m in pictures. I honestly cannot tell you anything about this time. The only thing I vividly remember was wanting to have complete isolation from everyone and everything! I couldn’t handle all of the noise and visual activity. My confusion, relentless headaches, the insomnia made me so irritable. My family, my friends, it didn’t matter who you were or what affiliation you had to me. If I got to the point I wanted that seclusion, it was because I NEEDED IT! This was the result of a condition called “Sensory Overload”
Sensory overload, well it’s basically defined as it sounds. Due to the TBI, the brain cannot separate things, it will take everything in at once, it cannot analyze it and then filter it through the sections of your mind where it needs to be filed,(so to speak), your mind is flooded all at once. My way of describing it is like this. Anywhere with loud noises, and large crowds are my kryptonite. Anything that is visual, like busy places, traffic, television, reading books,even the fireworks for the 4th of July, I can’t handle it. Anything auditory, even a low background noise, while someone is trying to speak to me, or I’m trying to do something, I simply shut down. Loud noises, music, ETC. One of the two has to stop before I can engage in my task or in converstation with you. Literally I cannot function properly. So to avoid this, I isolated myself. I felt like an injured wild animal that had gone into hiding to recover. I felt helpless and vulnerable. I wouldn’t let you in or near me, physically or emotionally.
This was one of my biggest mistakes. When it came to my brain injury rehabilitation sessions with my therapist, I treated them the same way I did my family and friends. I pushed everyone away. My wife, my kids, my family, my therapist and even God! This was my injury, my life and I was going to fix it all alone. Ha, yeah right! This was my mentality and I couldn’t help it. If I didn’t want to let you in, I didn’t. My therapist would try to engage with me but I wouldn’t respond fully. I couldn’t! I don’t know these people. Yes, I know they’re here to help me. However, My TBI wouldn’t allow it. I can’t even open up and let close family members in, how could I with these strangers, at the time?
After months of therapy and brain rehab. I began bringing my barriers down towards them and my family. Therapy sessions became more productive, only because I told them about what was happening and what I was going through. Man, my therapist jumped right on it and began addressing the situation of Sensory Overload immediately. My Family life became more tolerable because they now knew of an unseen underlying problem also. My therapist gave them homework also to educate and adjust to this “new norm” of me. It’s Only because I brought down my barriers against the people who were trying to help me that my life became somewhat better. Now, Sensory overload still has a strong affect on me. However, I’ve learned strategies to try and cope with it. If I hadn’t brought down these barriers with my therapist, I’m sure I would still be pretty bad off.
“PLEASE, IF YOU DON’T GET ANYTHING OUT OF THIS EXCERPT, AT LEAST DO THIS ONE THING FOR YOURSELF AND YOU’LL AVOID SO MUCH FRUTSRATION AND HEARTACHE, I PROMISE YOU THIS!” I share my experiences throughout my TBI journey in hope that it keeps someone from going through the hardships I did. Skip the negative and go straight to the positive! HERE IT IS, -IF, you’re just starting out in your journey of TBI recovery, OPEN UP TO YOUR THERAPIST! ” But I don’t know them”…. I don’t care! Tell them what you’re experiencing, what your thoughts are, what you are going through on the inside! What your feelings are! Believe me when I tell you, if I could go back to that Lance on the very first day of his first therapy session, I would beg and plead tearfully with him to, “LET THEM IN!” For one, I know it would have helped my therapist out tremendously, but most importantly, I know it would have helped me out even more in the beginning!
What barriers are you still reinforcing in your journey to keep people out? These therapist and Family members really do care for you and have a passion and a genuine concern to see you through! To assist you in becoming the best you can be, considering the adversities life has thrown at you. Don’t block them out. I’M TELLING YOU FROM EXPERIENCE ” YOU CANNOT DO THIS ALONE!”
What barriers have you still got up against God? He’s the Master Therapist/Healer! He wants to have that relationship and communication with you, just as you do with your therapist. GOD DIDN’T DO THIS TO YOU! God allowed this to happen to you. It’s not for you to figure out why and what God’s plan is through all of this. Just break down the barrier with HIM just as you did your therapist. Look at how far you’ve come with the positives they’ve shown and taught you throughout your TBI journey. Just imagine the blessings and testimony you’ll have when you allow God to take control of the situation. Allow Him to mold you and guide you into His Master Plan for your life. If it weren’t for this TBI and finally breaking down my barriers, my daily walk with Christ would’ve never become deep as it is now. I don’t know what the future holds for me and I’m okay with that. Why, you might ask? Because I know God holds my future. He said He’ll never leave me nor forsake me. He said I’m going to make something good come from this bad that’s happened to you. Just trust in me and believe it’s coming. DO NOT GET IMPATIENT! It’s in God’s time, not your time. He will reveal His blessings and what your future holds when He knows you’re ready!
I’ll finish with this. I tried it all on my own. There were NO positive results. Until I broke down the emotional and physical barriers against everyone, nothing good was going to happen for me. So I had to have FAITH AND TRUST in people I didn’t know to help me in my day to day journey. Most important, I HAD TO HAVE FAITH AND TRUST IN GOD, That He’s going to see me through all of this, be it His will!
Break down your barriers! You’ve tried it alone and your way produced no results. Now surrender it to God and let His work begin in your life. If you don’t know how to, it’s a simple prayer that must come from the Heart. Something along this guideline……”God, I’m scared, confused and hurt. Nothing I’m doing is working. Come into my life and make me whole again. I let you have total control over my life and my situations. I know I’m a sinner, clean me up and make me whole. I know I may have issues from this injury but I’m trusting in you to take those injuries and make them a testimony that your power and mercy can shine through me for your glory and your glory alone. Give me patience to allow you to do your work in me. Amen!” It’s just that simple.
Now have faith and trust in God to bring you through this. Hey, you’ve tried everything else and it failed. Why not try God? Only if you sincerely dedicate your life to Him, I promise, your life will turn around for the better!