A brain injury can be life changing for the person who suffers from the injury and everyone in his or her life. While friends and family try to be supportive during a difficult time of transition and recovery, many individuals with a brain injury often struggle with conflicting emotions, a roller coaster of advances and setbacks, and may often feel alone and as if nobody can understand.
Although no one can truly understand what someone with a brain injury goes through, unless he or she has suffered one, too, trying to gain a better understanding can help brain injury survivors, as well as their family and friends.
For Brain Injury Survivors
As a brain injury survivor, you may realize that no brain injury is the same and even if you connect with others like you, you may have a difficult time understanding what they are going through. Having a brain injury can be frustrating, stressful, and may seem like an endless journey to recovery. It may be difficult enough trying to get through day to day activities, but when you have family and friends who want to give you a helping hand, it may make things more difficult rather than easier. Additionally, it may be difficult to understand the changes in your brain and it may be even more difficult to articulate your thoughts, feelings, or to explain why you act or feel the way you do.
If you feel like you’re misunderstood and are unable to articulate what’s on your mind, don’t give up hope. Find allies that will understand you like a brain injury support group and your doctor. Keep up with your treatment plan, such as occupational therapy or counseling. Be patient with yourself and make your wellbeing your number one priority.
For Family and Friends of Brain Injury Survivors
Having a loved one that has suffered a brain injury can be frustrating and often times, you may feel helpless and unable to offer any support. One of the best ways to help out your loved one is by learning about the brain injury and try to understand what he or she may be going through. Keep in mind that brain injuries are different, from one person to the next, and may cause constant changes in the emotional and mental health of your loved one. Recovering from a brain injury is a lengthy process and it’s important, as a supporter, that you are patient and refrain from passing judgement. Here are a few things to consider when trying to understand your loved one’s brain injury:
- Brain injuries are often “invisible” and although someone may look or seem “ok”, he or she may still be struggling.
- No matter how frustrated you become, don’t belittle or point out “faults” in his or her behavior. For example, if he or she seems disinterested in something, is forgetful, or seems unhappy, don’t make it negative or about you.
- Allow your loved one to be independent. Don’t assume that he or she is helpless. Additionally, don’t assume that your loved one wants strangers to know about his or her brain injury. A brain injury shouldn’t be used an “excuse” to explain how someone behaves, leave that decision up to him or her.