Looking for thoughts

In January 2011 I hit black ice while driving a small pick-up. A larger vehicle hit the right side of my vehicle while the speed limit was 55 (I was going slower than the speed limit and headed uphill but obviously in an odd angle on the wrong side of the road). My passenger door had a desperate desire for attention and decided to meet me in the driver’s seat. Thank goodness no one else was hurt besides myself (the other driver walked away with a scratch). I was then life freighted downstate where I remained passed out for another 6 weeks and in the hospital for three months. I suffered some of the typical symptoms of others in this situation including bad hearing, an eye that does not move normally, anger management skills, socialization faults, self-worth issues. Even today I am rebuilding. I find that certain situations help me retain information that was previously blocked off from my past.

Before my TBI I was double majoring in a college that was a free ride due to my grades plus my success while in secondary school. I took some GED classes at the same time that I was doing the rehab. I also went back to work at a fast food restaurant that I had been a crew trainer at since I was 16 and becoming a manager of at the age of 2o (they had asked me at 19 and I refused because of the excessive drama) I was testing myself to see if I could relearn the basics of what I used to master rather easily. I could see all of the doubt in everyone’s faces. I could barely walk, had trouble speaking, more trouble hearing, wore an eye patch until the surgeries, and walked with a limp while I was regaining movement to a side of my body.

After finishing therapy and passing some GED classes I went back to college teaching myself things while attempting to go further with the information. Math was extremely difficult considering I did my pre-calculus the first semester back after relearning how to add-and-subtract the year before but I got an average grade. I then decided to switch to single major in an easier subject which is going okay so far. In a way I told myself that when going back I would shoot for C’s as I retaught myself everything but in truth I am still disappointed when I get anything besides an A. Even if I only have two C’s.

Work however is not the easiest thing to deal with. I was very successful as a teenager and feel that if I were treated a little differently I would be much more successful now but I stay quiet as I watch many rules being broken. I am walked over by the individuals who are new and did not know me before the TBI. Eventually everything being done incorrectly builds up and my temper gets in my way. The individuals I used to get along with at work either denied friendship or treated me the worst. The ones that came to the hospital or actually hung out outside of work before and initially after my TBI hurt the most. Slowly I am rebuilding though. Speaking up for myself, and fighting being walked over. Small steps. Some of them only because I have distanced myself and blockaded against the average young broken friendships.

It is not all bad I promise. While going slowly in school I am still being successful. I find myself opining to more adventure in life. Started hiking this year by going on a small trip in Utah; went to Ireland last year. I have obtained a boyfriend that actually seems promising who actually seems to understand my situation better than most considering he has been around it before. I have two lovely kitties, I am back to living on my own with many books and lots of video games. I am once again reading books on a regular basis even if I may no longer plow through them in a few days. Also a plus to forgetting everything from my past is that I already have a lot of items that I can re-read, replay, re-watch as if I have never seen them before.

My purpose for posting this is I still seem to have the need to not only start socializing even if on the minimal level but I am also looking for some solutions to regaining my self-confidence. What I had before is now almost completely diminished. I am no longer allowed to do sports, people still tend to look at me as if I am not intelligent enough to be in a college or at work, and I am not really as social as I used to be. I seem to have this knowledge that I used to do so well and now I still have high expectations but it has gotten me far. If anyone has some thoughts please let me know. I think just having someone outside of my everyday situation could really help. Anything for self-esteem building would be great.

Sorry if my writing is broken just a quick product that may later need some change after further review.

Don't compare yourself to what other peers are doing. Look at where you were 2 years ago, and at the progress made. For myself, it was 33 years ago. Life gets better if you keep making progress. Don't worry about other's perceptions of your abilities, and whether or not they understand. Most people have struggles that you may have no idea about.

WOW! Be so proud of yourself, for you have accomplished what so many TBI survivors only dream of. My daughter is TBI, I am her caretaker, I am also a Psychological Educational Facilitator, I specialize in domestic violence and in my 30 years experience what I am about to say I hope will not offend you, but empower you to move forward. As humans we are basically a bundle of energy and just as any energy we subconsciously give off vibrations. If you are feeling unworthy of respect or if you doubt yourself, so will others because they pick up how you are feeling about yourself. Please listen to Louise Hay, when you begin to love yourself and trust yourself again, then so will they.

I dont get on all the time, but you are very inspirational and you dont seem to see how much you have accomplished. You are brave and you are driven, you have a beautiful spirit and once you begin to recognize this - then you will find your voice! People will treat you the way you allow them to. Insecure angry people can become bullies when they pick up on vibrations such as yours. I agree with Marty 33612, remember the Four Agreements, never compare yourself to others. You are a shining star....fall in love with yourself and shine brightly!

Ah, black ice...my old nemesis as well. I stepped off my stoop in January 2012 to walk across the parking lot of my apartment and the next thing I knew, I was being shaken by some woman yelling at me to wake up and for someone to call an ambulance.

I too can no longer count straight or do mathematics, walk with a cane, and I used to have a thriving career as a writer and worked in medical research. I was also in the middle of college at the time of my accident and with a whole lot of work and support from my teachers, I was one of the top students to graduate.

Unfortunately, I am now pursuing SSDI as I cannot do anything the same way twice and I can't deal with coworkers not understanding my predicament. I've been let go from my last three jobs, the last one was helping clean and care for dogs at a daycare/boarding facility. I actually had great success with the dogs, especially the ones that were too frightened and didn't want to eat. Those dogs understood that I was different and gentle, and I would sit with them and they would eat when they hadn't eaten in days from the stress.

My downfall was I could not keep directions straight or follow policy the same way twice, no matter how hard I tried. My coworkers also just thought I was stupid and complained a lot about me. My boss really did not want to let me go because I clearly had the heart necessary for the work. Unfortunately, this was an intractable situation for the both of us and we both agreed I could not perform the job to satisfaction.

So interestingly, I was both very successful and very unsuccessful. That seems to be our world...it's one of extremes.

I'm also not someone who can just sit on my butt and not work. So since I can't work within a company setting, I can work on my own at home. I started a small hobby farm in my backyard with three chickens (check out my avatar) and three ducks as honeybees as well as a small vegetable garden. The animals and plants don't judge me, I'm getting exercise and something to do, and I'm quite successful at growing food in myself and my husband, and the neighborhood now comes to me for fresh eggs and honey. :)

I am happy. I lost a lot, but I also gained a lot. I still have a long hard road to follow with caring for myself, but I KNOW now that I am still as intelligent as I ever was. Soon we will see about getting me a service dog and I'll be able to do more outside the home (I have a tendency to wander in disorientation until I'm lost and walk out into roads without realizing it if I'm not with somebody).

Your spirit to want more in life will be your greatest asset. You now have disabilities, but that very clearly isn't going to stop you. You are already highly advanced and more than capable of living a 100% happily differently-abled life. Brains are remarkable organs with great plasticity. It WILL mold itself to that. They can relearn new ways to do things with great effect. I agree with Marty. Don't compare yourself to your abled peers. You are a STUNNING success, and I can guarantee a lot of your peers would not be faring with the flying colors you have flown in this circumstance.

Don't let the world gaslight you. You are a flame to be reckoned with all on your own.

Thank you for the responses. Lauriel, psychopo, and Marty I am attempting to not allow myself to be walked on too much. As you all may understand some days are better than others. I tend to find that my biggest weakness tough is not the submitting to others opinions but fighting those inner demons. The ones that assure me that I can do well. It sometimes becomes difficult when other people look down on me. If there is no one to do such a thing I still work better than a lot of individuals.

I will continue to attempt to look back at how much I have accomplished and use it as one of gears towards becoming successful again. I somehow feel that if I continue along this path in a manner that I do find success I will become great in my area because I have been forced to think of things differently because of my brain injury. I will also look into Louise Hay.

Lastly I fear that I will get into a situation where I am no longer able to make it. It is like a giant shadow that follows me. I am have been doing so well since I have gone back to college because I am forcing myself to do so. I do not feel that I would have been the same if I settled with simply getting out of the hospital. What happens when I get my degree and I am not able too

My self-confidence issues lean towards my shyness as well. I often feel like I am that four year old that wants to hide behind someone that I know so I will not have to face people. Once I get to know them a little better it tends to go away. I still would like some other viewpoints on how to build the self-confidence once more though. All thoughts truly do help.

Confidence comes from building successes. It sounds like there are many successes. I created a facebook group called TBI Survivor's Successes, where I try to encourage other people to count blessings and be positive. You will get better and be more confident as long as you continue to move forward, and continue evolving in your understanding. Improving abilities of movement, improving communication strategies.

Kaiten, part of my struggle remains using too many words, so I don't expect you to read this unless you really want to, because I feel that this is far too long and wordy. My apologies for that.

After reading the great responses my thoughts are entirely similar. The human brain can be a miracle in itself, and especially at your young age and presuming previous good health, other areas of your brain can begin to perform the functions that the injured parts of your brain may cause you to struggle with. My thoughts are that you're already an absolute success story and that your self-esteem, confidence, and cognition will in time come back better than you may presently believe possible.

It seems to me as if you set very high standards for yourself and that very excellent quality can occasionally also cause you to feel more self-doubt, anxiety, and to have disappointed expectations of yourself. Time-wise, while each bit of progress may feel very slow and painstaking, your really still in what I feel are the initial stages of recovery compared to the level of growth and gains in all areas that you appear likely to make happen just in the next 1-3 years. That is to say that you may well pick up increasingly greater speed in the "learning curve" of adapting and rehabilitating your mind,body and spirit as you keep forging ahead.

I feel that you're showing very good wisdom and judgment in the decisions to switch majors and recognize that for now, maybe you and math may not get along quite so well. It's been my personal experience that coming back from TBI happened quickly initially and has been unpredictable. For me it felt that after the quick initial recovery things slowed down and improvements felt like an impossible dream. Recently, now almost 8 years out, I've had the great surprise of gaining ground like a growth spurt in a boy's height or that of a young sapling tree.

I'm able to suddenly see and understand things that confused me or got in my way for so long. For me the biggest "reason" or cause was because my life circumstances changed and I HAD to either change quickly or just let go of hope. So in short order, I finally reached out and got an In Home Support Service worker and obtained the benefits of having some help that I've been entitled to any way the entire time. Even before the personal assistant showed, I met a woman that inspired me because she believed in me so much that I started believing I still had "it" in me to come back beyond what I'd allowed myself to believe was possible. It took a random chance meeting with a woman who believed in me at a time when I couldn't quite believe in myself.

What happened next has surprised me greatly. As soon as I started receiving just a few hours of help a week, it's as though I transformed into the core self of what I've always already had inside of me: not any cognition issue or head injury was what was holding me back: the loss of my self-esteem, self-confidence, stigma and shame, and especially, the LOSS OF RELATIONSHIPS had damaged me and hurt me worse than anything else. Having lost ALL my freinds and being rejected by everyone in my family was absolutely emotionally devastating.and by far the WORST part of the fall out from the catastrophic accident.

Making it even harder was that about 3 years ago, desperate to achieve the life-long minimal "requirement" I'd set for myself to own my own home, I'd been mislead into moving into what turned out to be a very highly dangerous, crime-ridden, Meth-ravaged, entirely addict-inhabited, gang-riddled, ghetto neighborhood that during the day-time looked like older housing on a pretty tree-lined street. Nerdy, square, shy and NOT street-wise, I immediately stood out and people started targeting me. Petrified with fear, the level of bullying turned into criminal abuse, but not even the Sheriff's or Adult Protective Services would help me because they didn't believe I just could not escape this place alone.

So as soon as I'd raised such a fuss with the County, and went over everyone's heads to the Board of Supervisors, the personal assistant that was chosen for me helped me re-focus. Just that tiny bit of emotional support, and just the physical appearance of ONE visitor, was all it took me to "go for it" and start focusing better, concentrating harder, taking far better care of my own needs (sleep, eat, meds, breaks, naps, fluids, and some break from feeling imprisoned and under "lock down" just to stay alive in this place) and the changes/ improvements and recovery are happening so rapidly, I can hardly keep up with my own self.

To even greater stun me was that I soon realized that I still had "enough" cognitive capacity, and common sense to be thinking more clearly than my own Social Worker and using better judgement than either her or my "helper." My Social Worker was NOT HAPPY when I realized that my IHSS "helper" was a Meth-Addict herself and manipulating me, exploiting me, preying on her perception of me as too "out of it" to notice she was stealing from me and financially abusing me. I fired the "helper" after my Social Worker ignored my concerns for a week, then my Social Worker turned on ME for setting boundaries, and "quit" on me, prematurely closing my case.

After I was horrified by receiving an email from the same Social Worker mischaracterizing my symptoms and injuries as "character flaws," mistaking physiologically caused agitation for "an anger problem," and mistaking my effort to explain everything to her as "being too negative," I was done. I knew she felt too threatened and COULD NOT understand and did not CARE enough to even ask me a single question. So I corrected her and copied her Supervisor, providing detailed scientific research to explain what was really happening inside my head. I essentially said "You keep your misperceptions and I'll keep my sanity."

Meanwhile all of the local thugs who'd been targeting me, bullying me, cruelly teasing me for the uncontrollable body and hand tremors I have, were suddenly met with a DIFFERENT woman. Instead of hiding inside, curled into a ball of depression, despair, and pain, too terrified to even leave my home, are started walking with complete confidence and glaring them hard in the eye rather than pretending to ignore them. I was furious with how they'd cruelly abused me and kicked me while I was down, and they could tell by my body language that I was DONE with their sick antics at my expense. The bullying stopped, and others may come by looking for an opening to target me, but they never find one. I keep my pepper spray on me at all times. I'm ready.

BUT, I still was in for the SHOCK of my life at what happened next. After pining away for the family that abandoned me, and crying buckets of tears for years, feeling disposed of like a used, soiled tissue paper (after being treated like garbage by my own loved ones) I realized that I still loved them enough to write them to check on them. It HURT to find out that ALL OF MY FAMILY was literally disintegrating. Each had fallen into far harder, harsher circumstances, not so much physically threatened or unsafe, but the Father that disowned me had fallen prey to an evil Elder Abuse Scam exploiting a loophole in Florida laws, where "Professional Guardians for Profit" had already had him declared incompetent, appointed a "Guardian" that had complete control and possession of EVERYTHING he has (financial, real and personal property) and he's involuntarily institutionalized with zero rights, and not even allowed to open his own mail. The Sister and Brother that had abused me, were already financially set, so had each stopped even trying to work so they could drink and/or do drugs all the time. A mug shot of my sister showed her to be in such severely deteriorated physical and emotional condition. THEY were profoundly impacted by my injuries, could not deal or understand, felt helpless and devastated at losing me as they'd always known me to be, and had already been on the self-destructive road they're on now that's become a twisted trail of tragedy. The truth is that they've needed me more than I needed them, but our estrangement made mutual understanding impossible. Until now.

THEY do not understand me because they cannot. My Father's too helpless to even help himself now. My two siblings may never want or accept my help, and that's heartbreaking. NO MATTER WHAT, I REFUSE to treat them as they treated me, because I'd be an ingrate and if I failed to realize that no matter how bad my worst feels and is, at least my life is salvageable and safe because it is in my hands and except for financially, I've managed to do more than they could with much less of myself to work with.

They too were each very injured when I was injured, and their scars are as hidden and invisible to them as my injuries and cognitive deficits are to them. All I can do is the best I can with what I have to work with. Since I know too well the pain of being abandoned and treated like garbage, I just cannot allow myself to "quit" on them when they need me the most, even if they don't even want me. I've never had addiction issues so just my very existence in life is perceived by them to be a threat to their self-esteem, for they presume I'm somehow better than them. I know I'm not. My father abandoned the family when i was 6 and is still checked out, but I cannot pretend to understand him enough to judge him, and refuse to let him leave this earth feeling discarded, isolated and abandoned.

THOUGHTS: Maybe you may not be able to do all of the same things that you so easily did before. Comparing your "different Kaiten" to the previous Kaiten will stop when you realize that your biggest job is looking forward not backward, and staying as optimistic and upbeat as you can. The adage "Don't see the glass as half empty, rather see it as half full" applies, especially when you're so confused, frustrated, overwhelmed or (fill in the blank ). It's only natural to look back at times because YOU have lost you as you've always known yourself to be, and the loss of identity and relationships that come with that requires the same grieving process as death does. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. I feel that the way each of us experience the process is different, and it can require great patience and time. My thoughts about you is that if you even just keep doing as well as you already are, you'll never have to worry about being entirely capable of finding success, stability, self-reliance and ENOUGH of what you NEED, even if it's not exactly what you wanted or how you imagined it to be.

An INJURY can be as much or even more of an injury to your family, friends, co-workers, class-mates as it is to you. While you may feel helpless at times, you've been showing that you are not. Others who cannot see or touch your injuries, and therefore cannot be blamed for not understanding what they can't possibly understand without experiencing it themselves. Even if they think they understand Injury, each one is entirely unique. So the ability and capacity by others to understand you just isn't there, because even if they say they believe you and do, their senses tell them "She looks better so she IS better."

You never know how what happens to one of us can affect everyone around us in ways that may never be identified or even knowable to them or to you. Your loved ones also have to endure the greiving process of losing you as they always knew you to be, and that ain't easy because they may not even be able to understand much.

As for the work place bullies, they are cowards. If they weren't complete cowards they'd be incapable of mistreating you because they would not even have the ability to make themselves feel better at the expense of someone who outwardly appears to them to be someone who you are not, because they're not even aware of who you are. Yes, being shy feeds in to that and makes it harder. Each of us tend to find our own way of dealing with Bullies, so perhaps taking some Assertiveness training classes could benefit you. I've learned the hard way that it's a mistake (at least for me) to ever let anyone put me down because bullying is a form of abuse and abuse hurts. It can kill a tiny part of us inside our hearts if we accept it, so finding a way to give yourself a voice is, I think, very important. You can learn to manage your anger. For me, I recently responded to a Neighbor's (a Meth-Addict) abusive muttering the word "Bitch" about me just under her breath as she walked away like a pouting child. I'd simply maintained my BOUNDARIES exactly where they belonged and denied her effort to dump her life's or day's frustrations on me by not allowing her to make her problems my problems. SO, I called out to her: "Do you have something to say to my face?" Her partner than stepped in very respectfully and said "No. Nothing. We're just hot and tired." I replied "No human being is garbage, so calling me out of my name is not acceptable; I do undertand what it feels like to be hot and tired. Thank you for using good manners with me.

What can someone really say when you just say, in whatever words may come, "No. Don't dump yourself on me?" It's such a logical and reasonable statement, there's no basis to argue. If they try to, I'd personally just cut them off by walking away from them, rather than give them the power to hurt me or upset me. It's just so hard to do when you're shy, already feeling down, and someone comes up to kick you just for kicks. When I just say "There's no reason not to behave with basic human decency" it's teaching them how to treat me better, not being over-reactive or letting them take jabs at me. It works because you're also describing to them exactly what they already know they are doing, but are using words to make it see okay. It's not. I'd better go. I hope some of this is helpful to you. I'll leave you with a question to ask yourself: If you do not believe in yourself, how can you expect others to believe in you?"

It's when we doubt ourselves the most that we've got to set limits on others who would further injure us. Best wishes to you. Oh, one last thing: I had to stop my perfectionism and learn the words: "It's good ENOUGH." You're already doing the best you can do, so don't give others the power to add to your doubts, which are naturally there because you're still healing and recovering. It's a process that just takes time.

This is exactly how I feel. I was accepted to an Ivy League school directly out of high school, now I am lucky if I pull a B in class. I used to be impeccably organized and I can't seem to keep anything straight anymore. I have an amazing boyfriend who thinks I am great just the way I am, but I continually compare myself to the woman that I was before my injury and I find that the current me comes up sorely lacking! I am sorry you feel this way. I am sure you are a wonderful person. Maybe we should just try not to compare ourselves to our former selves...

Hmm Anna your thoughts were actually interesting. For my anger issues I started to tell myself that I had to let things go because much of the drama of life does not really matter. When things start to build up I explode or like you mentioned I ask for some time alone until I calm down. However I find the Assertiveness Training Classes to be an intriguing idea. I do find that I no longer see myself as deserving for many compliments ex. However I also think that in Maine it will be a 4 to 5 hour drive from where I live. I am not certain when I could make the idea a possibility however I almost feel like I will need it at some point. I may actually save some time out this summer.

Shnorm I think that is going to be part of the recovery as well. Although I admit that I may never be able to stop fully some of the other comments have added to small ways that one can go about it. I however am not certain if or when it will ever be enough for me but I think it will help. I feel that taking classes has helped my recovery tremendously even if the grades are lacking.

Readers please keep the ideas coming they are great even if it is just a possible beginning.