Will they see that I am an impostor?

Good afternoon I wrote the following post in June '15 on the ADEM board. Little did I know, understand, or even comprehend the nature, details, and outcome of a severe brain injury. For some reason I didn’t share it here, but here now I do, in case it offers anyone else comfort, understanding, or community. Post follows.


After 6 weeks they graduated me from the hospital. The checklist was satisfied saying that I could go home. There was something missing from the checklist: “Is the patient who he was before the brain injury?”. Answer: No. I look the same, sound the same, speak the same. That is good enough right? Just get things back to normal ASAP, which is a plan that I loved, but after 1.5 years, it just isn’t going that way. Nobody has noticed: I’m not really me!

I am an impostor. I’m pretending to me so I can benefit from my family, friends, and everything that was called “me”, before the medical event. None of it feels right, though. It doesn’t taste right though, either. I got a brain injury, why do I have GI issues right along side with it? I don’t eat the same stuff either. But I play along day after day, fooling everyone. It is the ultimate acting part even though I never got a single bit of training. Surely this impostor syndrome is part of recovery and will not be the new normal?

I want old and familiar, shunning “new”. I want a place where nothing ever happens; shunning excitement. I want predictable and simple, shunning “surprises”. I have tried everything to get back to the place where everything made sense and where I had a place and I was not an impostor. Time travel is not an option so I will keep persisting and embracing “the new normal”, given that there seems to be no viable alternative. Maybe eventually I will like whoever I am now, because everyone else seems to.

Anyone else feel like a impostor in their own life?

Yes, Occipital, my being a fake, an impostor, came from my vainglory or pride. My pride would not let me admit my mental limitations and my being emotionally tormented. The trouble with my pride was it became denial. Then my denial became this chasm of inner darkness which opened inside me, like a black hole draining out whatever life I had. To escape this crushing negative self-consciousness I expressed more external pride toward people. Gradually, though, life has busted me down into a “nothingness” and I have had to face my pride as my denial.

This courage to face my pride and to deal with my limitations has felt unsettling, difficult to identify and resolve. It was difficult because my pride would go into this exploding rage and then I felt proud of my combativeness. It seem right being a fighter, a big shot, swaggering around like a four-star general, screaming at God and everybody. And now moving out of this state of raging consciousness onto this stage of consciousness I feel empty. There is no play-acting on this stage, just setting on a chair, looking out to all the empty seats and to the empty stage.

This empty stage is like being “told” who I am not and this will turn on my anger and my aggression. Now, though, something about this emptiness is becoming paradoxical and seems to be this acceptance of what IS. It seems this empty stage is teaching me there is nowhere to hide and I am forced to deal with disquieting reality of who I am. I even feel an echo of something painful and beautiful, and yet I cannot reach it. Maybe this faint echo is my individual consciousness, maturing into a greater acceptance, and feeling more emotionally balanced. Maybe it is this acceptance of the empty stage and this ability to embrace life without feeling “storm-tossed” by every feeling.

This act of acceptance on this stage feels like it is beyond my conscious control. I say this mainly because I feel powerlessness. Maybe the echo is communicating acceptance of my own powerlessness.

Thanks for your writing and choosing to be effective which allows me to sit on my empty stage…

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Wow, i could have written that. “Is pt the same as before”!!! No! I am always afraid people think i am malingering because i cant fake being who i was. I cry in public and pitch fits. I have hyperphagia and get so depressed i am actively suicidal often. I have no mental health ins so accessing help is not an option. So yeah… NOT THE SAME and cant fake. I live in such crushing shame that 50 percent of the time i elect to be mute in public. Which of course probably make people think i am just seeking attention. Nightmare!

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Syd: What you wrote can only be written by the powerful

Okrad: Millions of us live with that shame and it makes us powerless. Knowing that it is millions of us, maybe it distributes the burden and weight of this shame a little bit. Sometimes I feel like we carry it together. Now I feel a little power. Not sure if it is mine to share or not, but who cares, I share it with you and you have no obligation to take it. I just know how it feels to be powerless. Reading what you wrote Okrad: that took power what you wrote. It makes me want to be like you.

wow-got hurt 30 years ago and it feels like I am so tired from trying to present myself to the world as if everything is Ok. In my case my family has died off so my current family only know the new or different me. I guess I was saved from feeling like a imposter cause I live in another state and there is no-one I my life from before my accident. Definitly gave something to think about-good luck with your deal.

Thanks John I’ll keep at it. We are all in it together.

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occipital, based on my last response to your note on feeling like an imposter, I went to see some old friends for 4-days and the guy I stayed with Said a couple of times he feels sorry for my wife as he laughed. Normally ill go up for a day but I guess 4-days of me was to much. The fact of the matter is I get up every day and fight for clarity and do the absolute best I can with what I’m left with and these clowns (old friends) still smoke weed and do shit to fog up there brain every day and they feel sorry for there sorry asses. So in some way I walked away from the experience feeling good about myself and the effort I put in to living a decent life. THANKS FOR LETTING ME VENT LOL


Recall the words of the great philosopher Shrek: “Better out than in”.

Coming up on 14 years post TBI , One thing I’ve learned throughout this process is no matter what you say and/or do family , friends etc , they will never get it. You can even take them to your doctors appointments.

It use to drive me nuts , because my wife felt she had to explain what a TBI was and how it affects not only me but many others. I can’t recall how many times I told her “STOP” it , they will never get it.

My best advice , learn to accept the new you , I do know that many cannot get to that place , for them I keep you even closer to my “Heart”.

For the ones that can accept that new person , surround yourself with the things/people that make you happy. Don’t get me wrong , I still have many very dark days , where I retreat to my bedroom and close the world out.

I continue to take medications day and night , plus continue to see my doctors every 3 To 4 weeks.

All The Best , Big Hugs


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