When your injury involves your brain, it is difficult to assess your own recovery. I *felt” like every conversation required an exhausting level of focus if I were to successfully follow along. I *felt* like it took extra care and consideration to convey, with words, my ideas. I felt misunderstood a majority of the time. But, many non-medical folks close to me gave me the feedback that I was communicating normally. Did they not see my difficulty? Did they not *want* to allow themselves to see that I was injured? Was I actually fine?
After the injury, I worked with a Brain Physical Therapist and Brain Occupational Therapist. These two assured me that I should trust the exhaustion I felt and the difficulty I sensed. They believed me and worked to find techniques to improve and recover.
One gave me a “recovery model” pamphlet that stated, “Brain injury impairment combines in some fashion with personal and situational factors to influence performance, social interactions, and coping with failures and other stresses.”
Recovery is influenced by personal factors such as fatigue, other physical injuries, other life stress, and negative thoughts. Addressing all of these areas was critical to my health and recovery. Surrounding myself with folks who were willing to listen to my perception was critical – allowing myself to believe my feelings lessened the stress of the situation. Addressing my physical injuries helped me be more at ease with the differences I felt interacting with my surroundings.
For nearly a year, I found myself, each month, saying “I finally feel like myself again”. It was a long process to begin to trust myself and feel like myself. Who knows, maybe in another month, I will feel like I turned a page again in recovery.