Living through the brain injury experience can represent quite the assault on a survivor’s identity. Previously athletic survivors may now struggle to walk. Previously active and industrious survivors may now be unemployed. Instead of being in charge at the workplace, a survivor now is given a list of externally defined rules to follow essential to his or her rehabilitation. All of this can cause notable emotional strain on a survivor. Contending with the inevitable alterations wrought by such an injury to the perception of one’s own identity is no small thing. Sometimes rather than focusing on all of these changes, it is worthwhile to instead concentrate on those aspects of the survivor’s identity that have remained stable in spite of the injury. It is often helpful to write down these stable aspects to help visualize and internalize the truth that many of the attributes that have always defined the survivor’s identity at core remain just as relevant post-injury.
Here are a few of these aspects with strong potential to remain stable following an injury:
1. Family relationships – An injury does not change the fact that a survivor holds family roles as a parent, child or sibling.
2. Life Experiences/Memories – An injury does not negate the many life experiences that a survivor has accumulated. These experiences can originate in work, school, family or any other facet of life.
3. Interests/Hobbies – An injury is unlikely to change a survivor’s interests and tastes in things like music, food and sports.
4. Knowledge – An injury will almost never fully erase a survivor’s knowledge acquired over years of life experiences. As example, a survivor who is a truck driver will generally remember all of the quickest routes across town.
5. Personality – An injury may not change a survivor’s personality. For instance, a survivor who was a hard worker prior to an injury will very likely be just as hard a worker after.
6. Physical Characteristics – An injury may not alter certain physical characteristics. A brain injury will not change the color of a survivor’s eyes or hair. For many survivors, overall facial appearance does not change at all (or sees only minor changes) following an injury.
7. Beliefs – An injury will generally have no effect at all upon a survivor’s belief system. For example, a lifelong Democrat will almost never suddenly begin voting Republican post-injury.
By spending time identifying and shifting focus upon the stable facets of survivors identities, survivors can better emotionally ground themselves as they navigate the brain injury experience.
Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center! Visit us at: http://tlcrehab.org/