7 Ways To Support A Loved One With A Traumatic Brain Injury by Janice Tindle 

Author’s note: (This article was published on 5 /16/16 on themighty.com. https://themighty.com/2016/05/how-to-support-a-loved-one-with-traumatic-brain-injury/

I am the author of that article, which is now posted here. 

Recently, several spam sites have posted this article without my permission and neglect to credit me as the author. I hunt them down like a southern sheriff and his pack of relentless hounds barking and running half-crazed into the dark night until the criminals scream and plead for mercy. Don’t steal my stuff. I’ll come after you…..)

7 Ways To Support A Loved One With A Traumatic Brain Injury by Janice Tindle 

If someone you love is dealing with a traumatic brain injury (TBI), you may want to offer support, but not know how. As a survivor of TBI, these are my thoughts on how to support a friend or family member going through this difficult experience.

Understanding traumatic brain injury begins by thinking about basic things we take for granted each day. You probably take for granted that when you wake up, you will go to sleep that night as the same person you were when you began your day. You thought the same thoughts, had the same feelings, dreams, goals and abilities as you did the day before. You expect that the next day you will still look at yourself in the mirror and recognize your face, body and voice as yours. You know yourself. Whether or not you like yourself, you have full recognition of your body, mind and spirit. You may not be content or satisfied with who you’ve become, but you understand how you got that way, and you think about what you need to do to change, grow and progress.

Now, imagine waking up one day and within the course of your normal activities, a blow to the head removes all that. Imagine your sense of self disappearing like a document in your computer that you forgot to save. You remember it, mostly, kinda. You search for it; you know it’s there, somewhere, but no matter how hard you search, you just can’t find it. So you try to make a new one, as close to the old one as possible, but all the subtle nuances and specific details are gone. All you can do is try to make copy of the “you” that used to be.

You may feel like an impostor. You may feel like you’re living someone else’s life, but it’s your life. You’re lonely for yourself. You feel lost.

Things that were so important before may have no meaning. Relationships that you once treasured can be difficult to connect with. You understand the meaning of the lyrics in Gordon Lightfoot’s song, “If You Could Read My Mind” because you walk around like a ghost in your own life “with chains around your feet,” agonizing because “the feeling’s gone and you just can’t get it back.”

Picture yourself getting into your car that only you drive, and suddenly, the seat is in the wrong position. You try the adjust it back to where you’ve always had it, but your most comfortable setting is gone. The steering wheel won’t tilt into place, and the HVAC system no longer has your temperature of choice. The radio has been reprogrammed without any station you recognize. The wipers stick and squeak. The defrost only works on one side of the window. The gas tank is on the other side. You try to drive it anyway, but no matter how hard you try, you just can’t get the speed up. You can’t see, your back hurts, it’s too cold/hot, the music is too loud, the wipers are driving you crazy, and you are so frustrated by everyone honking at you that you just pull over, put your head in your hands and cry.

Now imagine that car is your brain.
 That’s TBI. 
So here are the

7 Ways to Support a Loved One With Traumatic Brain Injury

1. Believe them. The pain is real. The fatigue is real. The confusion and mood changes aren’t their fault. It’s an injury. Treat it that way. Talk about depression and suicidal thoughts and feelings. I started a Facebook page that contains articles about TBI depression and other mental health issues.
2. Rehabilitation is vital. And it’s not all the same. Get your loved one into the best program you can find as soon as possible. If you’re in the USA, the Brain Injury Association of America has many resources on their website. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. Have your friends and family look for resources and do research for you. My friend Trina Chambers-Bradlee and I started a page to help others find financial help because I had a difficult time finding resources.
3. Not all concussion doctors are equal. Regardless of their status in the medical community, if you feel that the care is unsatisfactory for your situation, find another doctor.
4. An anti-inflammatory diet may be crucial. Fish oil shows evidence of being extremely helpful after brain injury. J.J. Virgin wrote a an e-book about her son’s recovery called “Walking Hope” in which she outlines how they used fish oil in his care. There are many functional medicine doctors and books online with more information about diet.
5. Join support groups. Whether they are in your rehabilitation center, online or at the hospital, support groups are vital to understanding TBI. Don’t try to get through this alone. Support groups will help you deal with all the things that the doctor doesn’t know or doesn’t have time to tell you.
6. Don’t give up. The more tools you put in your toolbox, the better you’ll be able to handle what’s happened. The more help you get for yourself, the more you’ll be able to help your loved one.
7. This is a life-changing event. However, there is life after TBI. The more you understand that you now have to put in extra effort for your loved one, the more enrichment you’ll both receive. Learning about TBI and experiencing it is like learning a new language for both of you. Think of yourselves as if you have suddenly been thrust into a new, strange country. The more you learn and adapt, the more opportunities you’ll have to rebuild a successful life together.

Additional Note: 

The first half of this article appeared with my permission in the June issue of TBI Hope and Inspiration magazine. David A. Grant, the Editor of the magazine said on his FB page, dated June 20, “We’ve just published the June 2016 Issue of TBI HOPE Magazine! Many of the articles in this month’s issue speak of the importance of Support Groups as an important part of ongoing TBI recovery. We are pleased as well to welcome several first-time contributors to our family of contributing writers. Download the June Issue Here>>> http://tbihopeandinspiration.com/June2016.pdf

Don’t miss,”What People Don’t Understand,” by contributing writer Janice Tindle. This is perhaps one of the best pieces that we’ve ever published about what it’s really like to live daily with a traumatic brain injury.” http://tbihopeandinspiration.com/June2016.pdf

I also gave my permission for Annie Ricketts, founder of the big global picnic, to post it on her website. You’ll find it under “A Guide for Friends and Families – How to Help After a Brain Injury”   http://biglobalpicnic.org/a-guide-for-friends-and-families-how-to-help-after-a-brain-injury/

Before being posted here, it was viewed over 12 thousand times from my pages on Facebook. It’s been shared around the world. I’m very proud to be  raising awareness and helping people in this way. 💚 https://www.facebook.com/janicetindlewriter/

photo by Daniel Tindle

About janicetindle.com

NOTICE: NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING, from my website janicetindle.com may be use without a request in writing to me. Permission, if granted, will be done in writing. Failure to do so will result in possible prosecution. I am the sole owner of my words and at point of publication on this site it is copyrighted as mine. - copyright 2012 Janice Tindle In 2010, I suffered a traumatic brain injury and other injuries when hit by an under insured driver. It changed my life. I now live with Dystonia, a rare and painful neurologal disorder that causes involuntary muscle spasms and abnormal posturing. There is no treatment or cure. The best one can do is treat the symptoms. You can learn more at DMRF.org. I try to write about people and things that help and inspire my readers. You can find more of my story by going to helphopelive.org. I am also on Facebook, where I have five pages, Pain Brain -Anti- Inflammatory Foods, Brain Tears, The Positive Posters Page, Traumatic Brain Injury Resources Page, Janice Tindle- Writer. I am also on Twitter and LinkedIn. Simply Google my name and my published articles should appear. I've been published in Fearless Caregiver, Today's Caregiver, TBI Hope and Inspiration Magazine, The Mighty.com, and several other publications. I am currently a caregiver for my dear mother. My hope is to someday finish my books, "Get Back Up!" and "Galicia's Granite" during my mother's lifetime. Your interest in my care, recovery and writing is greatly appreciated. Thank you. Comments are welcome.
This entry was posted in brain injury, Brain injury radio, brain tumor, caregiving, coping skills, dementia, disability, family, human interest, humanity, inspirational, life changing, life changing events, people, support groups, thought provoking, traumatic brain injury and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to 7 Ways To Support A Loved One With A Traumatic Brain Injury by Janice Tindle 

  1. Audley J. Weiler says:

    God bless you!!! In 2006 I was in a terrible accident (hit by a pickup truck while crossing the road). One of my injuries was a concussion. I’m living, but living with short term memory, lightheadness, dizzie events, and so on.
    Then in 2008, my Grandson who was 17 at the time, contacted Viral Ensefferlitis (not spelled right), swelling of the brain, from an infected mosquito! He lost his entire memory from before the infection!! Nothing left. A 6′ “baby”. It’s taking years, but he is improving.
    Then in Sept of 2013, my sister had a “mild” stroke!! What it effected was her speech mostly.
    All three of us are living with TBI!! It’s been hard on all of our families. And to know there are people out there that would listen, understand, help!! So glad I saw this on FB.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. wobblypip says:

    A great explanation of TBI! I am so glad you are fighting back against the spammers.

    Liked by 1 person

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