Tag Archives: identity

Grounding Identity

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/

 

 

 

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Roles

Perhaps the most emotionally difficult parts of the brain injury recovery process stem from the losses of and changes to life roles due to the injury.  For instance, a man who is used to being the breadwinner may now be in need of financial assistance.  Not only is this a financial change, but it involves a fundamental change in how this man interacts with his world.  He went from financially helping others to needing to ask for such help.  In many cases,  role changes can be experienced as an attack upon the very identity of the individual involved.  A brain injury survivor may have had a role as a Boy Scout Troop Leader for twenty years, but after the brain injury can no longer participate in Boy Scout activities.  After twenty years, this activity may have provided much of the foundation upon which the survivor considered his identity to rest.  Not only is he involved in Boy Scouts, he “is” a Scout.  For some brain injury survivors, it may feel like a piece of themselves died when a role important to them was necessarily lost.  Some roles that often change or may even be lost due to a brain injury are:

1. Parent

2.  Employee/Worker

3.  Volunteer

4.  Student

5.  Man or Woman of the House/Authority of the Home

6.  Athlete

7.  Driver of Vehicle

8.  Organizational Leader

9.  Musician

Since our roles are part of what defines our identity, the loss or changing of roles can be quite traumatic.  Here are a few methods that can help a survivor who has experienced these losses or changes.

1.  Identify roles in which the survivor still has sufficient ability to engage.  For example, a survivor may not be able to continue his work as an electrician but his children still need his love, support and advice in his role as their father.

2.  If a role has changed, identify the parts of the role in which the survivor can still become involved.  For instance, a survivor may not be able to balance her checkbook or pay bills but she can still sign her own checks once some else has filled them out.

3.  Help find new roles for the survivor that can take the place of roles that have been lost.  One example involves a survivor no longer able to continue at his job as a high school football coach.  Since he reads well and likes children though, he may enjoy volunteering to read books to children at the local library.  Volunteering is a great way to engage in new roles after an injury.  Similarly, a survivor may not be able to return to his or her former employment but may still be able to begin new employment.  For instance, a survivor who is unable to work as a truck driver due to loss of use of his or her legs may be able to work at a desk job such as a bank teller.  Joining organization, clubs or taking a class are other great ways to identify new roles.

By identifying roles in which survivors can engage, the emotional trauma of those roles that are lost can be notably reduced or sometimes even eliminated.

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org