Why I am here

In the fall of 1983, I suffered a severe (Grade 3) concussion, briefly stopped breathing, and then had a prolonged seizure while unconscious. I was three days in the hospital (with the first day in induced coma), and the impact on and over my left eye indicated likely brain damage to the orbitofrontal cortex as well as the left frontal lobe.

I recently have experienced a recovery of memories from just before and after the concussion, as well as an epiphany of sorts about the semi-permanent personality and cognitive changes I've experienced.

Since the injury, I have great difficulty setting goals or making long-term plans. I have a heightened sense of frustration over simple day-to-day accidents or blunders that we all may have. I've gone through times of anger or rage which seem totally disproportionate to the events or conversations. Out of the anger or frustration, I acquired a special 'skill' in profanity that in all other times I can control. If I have several things to do around the house that have varying importance, it takes tremendous brain work to follow through and do the most important things first. I'd rather just be 'scatter shot' and do things whichever way it happens.

I've had many jobs but no careers to speak of. In spite of several degrees in various disciplines, I've only had strings of years in satisfying work. Though I have a happy family and have successfully with my wife raised and home schooled my daughter to high school, I dread my child leaving home, because in spite of having loads of talent, skills, experience, and education, I simply cannot plan, cannot identify with a sense of purpose, cannot just get a clue about what the hell I need to do with my life moving forward.

Two years ago, I began to reflect on the relationships and events spanning my life, only to find that a profound sense of regret and remorse dominated my thoughts and feelings. I found an article about neuroimaging results that connect the orbitofrontal cortex with processing regret and disappointment. Put in the context of TBI involving the orbitofrontal cortex, I feel like the concussion switched on my 'regret circuits'. I've worked hard to consciously think in different ways about those times, and feedback from my family indicates that I've made some big changes.

If any more brain rewiring or retraining can be had, regardless of the area of handicap or challenge it may be, I want to strive for it.

I'm sure it sounds unusual to be seeking support after three decades, but I feel like I'm going through a form of grief over the losses and changes, and finding a support/info group would be great.

Sage, this is profound and moving. There may also be an element of the normal mid life crisis many of us feel too. I hope you can come to terms with this.

Thanks, Jackie. I don't doubt that I'm experiencing some form of mid-life crisis at the same time as my 'epiphany.' It's kinda funny, but it seems like the lack of resources and support for post-concussion syndrome and brain damage in the 80's left me with entering a protracted mid-life crisis before I was seventeen. Joining a support group and writing things like this, plus talking with my wife who's been with me 23 of those 30 years has given me a lot of hope. I was able to stop the predominant regret circuitry in large part, and I believe with God's help I can make progress and experience recovery in other areas after all this time.

Here's the link to the article about neuroimaging research that finds the orbitofrontal cortex is involved in processing regret. Maybe it will help someone who had a TBI around or above their eyes. Warning: it's a short but wordy abstract medical article.

Brain, emotion and decision making: the paradigmatic example of regret.