One irritating factor that I’ve come to despise from my Traumatic Brain Injury,(TBI), is hearing, “Wow you look great now” or “You don’t look hurt?!?!”
These comments are hurtful and are a constant reminder of the issues myself and others struggle with now, due to the TBI. I’m sure there are countless others that have faced this and have felt the same way.
A TBI is an injury to your BRAIN. No, seriously! Unless the victim has aquired visible scars or physical ailments/abnormalities or apparent cognitive issues due to their injury, it’s non-visible. Hence the other affiliate name “THE INVISIBLE INJURY!”
Many times comments as previously stated come from the people, that I like to call, “The Random.” These are the people that may frequent your life periodically, be it physically, via phone/text or social media. These are not the people in your everyday circle.
Yes, their intentions are of true concern and sincerity to check in on you and see how you’re doing. This can give you a sense of happiness and lift you emotionally. However at the same time their lack of knowledge concerning your TBI and comments like this can turn a cheerful visit/communication, into a disheartening and an emotional downward spiral for you. Now their heart is in the right place. What they say to you may seem genuine to them, without realizing what they’ve said, it has become hurtful to you on the other hand.
You live with your TBI everyday. You and only your closest family/friends know your problems, limitations and handicaps. So in this message I want to try and educate to the New caretakers, family members of TBI Victims and new TBI Victims themselves.
Things you should never say to TBI Victims or the ones caring for them! NEVER say, “You/They look fine to Me!” Unless you’ve been miraculously blessed with X-ray vision, YOU CANNOT see the chaos and emotional torment that’s going on inside that person’s brain, be it the injury itself or the physiological damage that has occurred.
Never say, “I have memory problems also!” Unless you had an injury that wiped your memory clean or the injury caused long or short term memory loss, you have no idea of the difference, between being forgetful and not remembering something at all! Having to have something repeated to you numerous times is frustrating but it is what’s needed to help retain that information now. Not remembering what you just told someone and then repeat it to them again as if it’s the first time doing so can also become normal for TBI Victims.
Never say, “You’re tired all the time now!” Many problems arise with a TBI, one of many being, Fatigue. Be it Physical or Mental Fatigue TBI Victims are still living, functioning, human beings! Mental Fatigue is exactly what it sounds like. Hypersensitivity to audible things, visual things and extremely active places puts stress on us faster and it can not be processed and filtered throughout our brains correctly. Some take longer to obtain, learn and process information and apply it. It doesn’t matter if these are things we knew how to do pre injury or new things learned post injury. It’s extremely straining on our brain and requires rest to re-energize our brain. Also, due to the injury for many it takes a physical toll as well. Not being as active, having psychological issues that limit them to being homebound constantly. The Medications that are administered that make you drowsy and not want to be social. Lack of sleep is a huge factor, the old active lifestyle for many is gone. Therefore, when a physically exerting task is placed on them, it requires more rest than that of an average person!
One that should NEVER BE SAID, “LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE, YOU’RE LUCKY TO BE ALIVE!” This statement is the one I hate the most. Someone that is recovering with a TBI is experiencing a completely new lifestyle that has been placed on them. Take your life for example and imagine this. Take your so-called normal life and have it ripped away from you. Now, you have to relearn how to live this new life with all the ailments and debilitating factors that come with it. All the while still being a spouse, a parent or whatever your title, and try to continue with the way your life use to be. This in and of itself would be a major burden for anyone! TBI Victims are more susceptible to committing suicide due to depression, anxiety, PTSD and not having the will to live this new life. Be of encouragement and strentgh to them. They may have the mindset of, “how am I lucky to have to live like this?”
There is no more powerful weapon on earth than that of the words which come out of your mouth.
There are many positive and encouraging things that You can say and do for TBI victims. Speak of how great they’re doing accomplishing tasks and goals they’ve set for themselves. Compliment them on how their determination and will power to overcome and conquer this new life is inspiring! Because it truly is! We have to work twice as hard to accomplish, what you may feel is the most simplest of task!
Become knowledgeable of the victim’s Traumatic Brain Injury. As stated before, the Lack of Knowledge on any matter in life can be tragic. There are numerous websites for Traumatic Brain Injury information, educate yourself. You might be the only source for a TBI victim to confide in and to be trustworthy to them. Sometimes, it’s simply best to just sit, be quiet and let that person know you’re truly there for them if they need you.
I don’t, by any means, want this article to come off as aggressive or offensive to anyone. I simply want people to know what I live and experience on a daily basis. I hope this brief insight of information helps you as a new caretaker, family member to the victim or to you the TBI Victim personally. Conquer your TBI journey! NEVER LOSE HOPE!