I miss my life before it happened.
I’m no longer myself.
People have started treating me differently since it all happened, and relationships I’ve had could not withstand the weight of it all.
I feel alone in my struggles.
Will I be like this for the rest of my life?
For people who’ve experienced a traumatic brain injury, these thoughts are consistently prevalent. These thoughts seem to be the only things that are consistent for this otherwise unpredictable condition.
Traumatic brain injuries incite uncertainty – as if someone is navigating a world of complete darkness. They don’t know which way to go, left or right, it doesn’t matter because they can’t see the path before them. When they look back, their life journey becomes blackened as well, and all they have are memories of themselves that they are fighting to avoid losing.
Traumatic Brain Injuries Today
This feeling of being perpetually alone and navigating a seemingly bleak future is all too familiar to traumatic brain injury (TBI) survivors. Each year over 2.8 million Americans sustain a TBI (these are new cases), with over 80,000 suffering a permanent disability and over 50,000 dying (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015; Brain Trauma Foundation). It is estimated that there are approximately 5.3 million Americans currently experiencing long-term disabilities as a result of their TBI (Brain Injury Alliance Connecticut, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014). It is safe to say that for people living with brain injuries labeled mild to severe, the impact of the injury didn’t only manifest physically – it marked the day when their life changed forever.
What is a Rebirth Day?
The day of one’s TBI is referred by some as their Rebirth Day. When experiencing a traumatic event or substantial pain, many hold the day that they started experiencing this pain or event as a day to pay homage to a second chance at life or a journey toward healing and wellness (Nostigmas.org). Others meet the approaching of this date with strong trepidation, it serving as a reminder of a life they no longer live. Whichever person you are, be encouraged that one’s Rebirth Day is completely subjective. We think of rebirth as an event in the past until where you are currently, but the truth is it can be any date in the past, present, or future – it just has to be of significance to you. It could be the day you first saw a concussion specialist, project to end a treatment, or graduate with a degree. The most important thing is that it is a day that motivates you and brings positivity into your life (Nostigmas.org).
TBIs and Take 2
Reframing adversities and traumatic experiences gives us the ability to transform our lives; it allows us to give it a new name, a new face. It doesn’t belittle our pain, but places gratitude where we often feel undeserving of it – strengthening our willpower and resolve to make it through any challenge. This is our second lease on life, our Take 2 – a day to see the world in ways we never have before.
Ways to Honor your Rebirth Day:
Here are ways you can celebrate and affirm yourself on your Rebirth Day:
- Know that you are more than a survivor, you are a thriver and a warrior
- You have lived through things that others will never understand, give yourself grace
- Your TBI is not all that you are
- Have hope that some things will get better
- Remember they’ll be many battles but don’t forget it’s a war
- Take care of yourself first
- Mourn for/reflect on who you once were, but use that pain to fight
- Take a trip to somewhere that makes you happy or visit the site where it all happened
- Reach out to the people who’ve been by your side through your TBI and thank them for their help
- Explore somewhere new, create another memory
- Journal and reflect on how far you’ve come!
Most of all, know that you aren’t alone in your struggles. There is a community of TBI survivors, caregivers, practitioners, and awareness advocates that are fighting to give you a better lease on life. At Power of Patients, we want to empower you by providing free resources, such as our dashboard and clinical trial education materials, to help you navigate your TBI and advocate for yourself. Let us fight for you and your rebirth.
Public Health Research Writer
Power of Patients