Thursday, March 8, 2012
A reporter asked me recently, “How long did your recovery take?” My stock reply was that you never fully recover from brain injury, that most people see the lion’s share of recovery within the first two years. All of that is factual, but none of it is correct.
It is like asking, “How long does it take to grow up?” Growing up is a process that never really ends. One does tend to develop in different ways as one gets older and at some point we consider ourselves “grown up.” However, you never really stop growing.
The same is true for brain injury. There can be discrete measurable gains after brain injury that can be described as recovery, but beyond that there is the intangible of personal growth.
Part of this personal growth I like to label healing. Healing is the act of reconstructing ourselves after the “loss of self” that is part of brain injury.
The first step is to accept that we have a brain injury. This is more than just acknowledging the fact that it happened. It is accepting the fact that you are not the person you were. Trying to be the person you were is living in the past. When you are truly ready to be who you are you are ready to move on.
The second step is to get over it. It is all too easy to try and hold on to the deficits of brain injury. It becomes so very much a part of who you are, that to move beyond it is like losing yourself all over again. Yes you have deficits, but you are you in spite of your deficits, and THAT is what makes you a better person.
The third step is to find value in the experience. It is restitution for the soul. Restitution is the act of putting right what is wrong. This is the true nature of healing. If you do not see your brain injury as valuable, then your brain injury has accomplished nothing. This is completely your choice. I found that my brain injury knocked me off my high horse and allowed me to become a more compassionate person. Compassion has unlocked riches I would have never received. My world is now larger and encompasses broader horizons than I would have ever imagined. We must all find that which has value to us. This will be different for everyone and is part of this fortune hunt called life that is far too fleet.