Now this did not come to me over night but after many years of reflection and striving to get well...
It has to do with the near death experience.
Transforming the Brain Injury into a Brain Blessing. While I personally would have rejected that notion whilst in the thick of recovery, it has helped me to see the truth in the fact that I am still alive. Offered a new opportunity at life. A chance to reinvent myself into somebody who is happier and peaceful.
My rehab professionals would often announce the fact
that "clients with positive attitudes often went the farthest with their recovery."
When you have to re-learn things you had taken for granted previously, these things tend to bring a sense of joy when you can accomplish again e.g. chewing & swallowing food/ assimilation of liquids vs. solids, walking, climbing stairs...
ALCOHOL (3 BAND STRATEGY):
I personally do not partake of alcohol any longer. I was given the warnings by doctors that I shouldn't drink alcohol because I might end up in a seizure, and I did not want that. I had plenty of experience growing up around my father having seizures daily.
So while recovering my mood was highly depressed overall and I avoided alcohol for the first 11 months, and then used serious caution with my dosing once I started again. During my late 20's I would drink a little bit often, but when I started to lose track of how much I was partaking in I began to wear elastic bands on my wrist (2 or 3 was my limit). When I would have a beer, I'd move 1 elastic to the opposite wrist. When the allotted wrist was out of bands, I'd snap the bands on my already drunk-wrist to emphasize the point that I'm done. It was surprisingly effective.
Then eventually I came to a point where I didn't want to use it anymore. It was a process in itself stopping alcohol in the culture I come from (Canadian), but it was mostly understood when I said "I'm not drinking because I have brain damage" -true story.
TYLER'S STRATEGIES/ TACTICS
"What worked for me."
Following the ABI I would say things that didn't come across properly. Saying something impulsively (without thinking) or inappropriately (without a filter), and my only indication would be people's energy shifting. And I imagine in hindsight that I was only sensitive enough to perceive reactions some of the time. When I'd perceive the energy shift
I would then feel a flood of regret 'biting my tongue', per se.
I suppose I had always been a bit of a joker through my school days, so accordingly I would try to joke around with friends. I have many friends who would leave me with a hurting belly from the laughs. But while I was thinking I was being hilarious, I was often met with surprised looks and people not catching that it was meant as a joke.
I was becoming frustrated that nobody was able to pickup on my stellar humour. Then eventually one of my friend's helped me with my dilemma. He suggested to me that I add at the end that "I'm just joking around". To my delight, this did make a difference and in the long run, it enabled me to explore/ hone my sense-of-humour.
I learned on my own that generally around professionals there's little-to-no point in joking around, or rather it's often better left unsaid.
When I began with doctor and specialist appointments there was plenty that i would misinterpret or not remember all together. Although I often had a Rehab Support Worker with me in appointments, when they weren't present the vast majority of the time memory skewed the details.
As a strategy I purchased a digital voice recorder
... Never used it.
However now as technology is where it is I find myself using my recorder on my mobile and listen to meetings over again to clarify just what was said and took place. (IMPORTANT: Always ask for permission before recording) This has proved to be a great benefit for me in following through with advice from professionals.
Throughout my lengthy rehabilitation I would regularly meet with my professionals and I wasn't always pleasant to be around I'm sure, but I was surprised when they'd tell me stories of their other clients who just want nothing to do with them. As if to say recovery isn't needed and help not wanted. Frustrations entirely understandable, but denial of the truth wasn't an option for me.
I had my fair share of anxieties, depression, and frustrations during rehab, but I was aware that I was broken from the accident, and wanted to get better or optimize my recovery.
I was occasionally complimented on my willingness to followthrough with advice from different professionals.
And while I didn't always implement their strategies or suggestions, I noticed that I was better off when I did.
BEING TRUE TO SELF:
Nearing the year anniversary I was in a sort of identity crises where I would trick myself into being the same person I was before. I picked up cigarettes again after being well over the addiction. I would go to parties with friends with a 'see guys, same old me' attitude. It would be laughs and fun until I took a little puff of cannabis or later in recovery a sip of alcohol, after which I'd go braindead and end-up on a couch or chair barely coherent.
Immediately after the brain injury my sleep ability went all to hell. Lying awake in bed during usual sleeping hours was my ordinary; then struggling to remain awake and alert during regular waking hours. Sleeping medication worked as far as knocking me out, but shortly after I'd wake to urinate. Afterwards, I would return to bed where I'd remain awake until sun up. Later I learned that waking to pee was from not drinking enough during the daytime and then realizing in the afternoon/ evening I was dehydrated, when I would then chug a litre or two to compensate. I eventually became unhappy with pharmaceuticals not doing enough for my rest, I took recommendations from everybody and their dog about sleep because I was so desperate. I tried many different strategies but here I'll include just a few.
1. I was told I should try to meditate when I can't sleep and so I did that for a while, with little success.
2. Then I was told to drink an IPA if I drink beer, because of the hop content and it being a sedative, so I began doing that. When I'd wake in the middle of the night (not always to pee), I would get up, grab an India Pale Ale from the fridge and a book, read and drink a beer for 45-1 hour, then return to bed and fall back asleep for an hour or two before the day started. This method was doing more than others I had tried up 'till then. After a while of doing this I learned from one of my wellness practitioners that the beer strategy was pretty intense - to wake and toss poison (alcohol) in my tired body was not ideal. So I stopped drinking booze around this time and opted for hop tea in the night for a while, with similar success.
3. After about 10 years of trying different strategies to help, I learned my most valuable strategy...I was introduced to Transcendental Meditation. This technique consist of a 20 minute meditation twice per day, which is a sort of "cosmic recharge". TM technique has given me the most benefit and after three years I still use it regularly.
While coping with my new issues around lacking sleep, my fatigue reached new heights, and all while struggling to fall asleep and stay asleep. I would go to bed with feeling exhausted and as one would do when they feel such a state, but once lying in bed would quickly become much more awake and alert. Eventually I would be on the verge of sleep when I would get disturbed by sounds. I learned of benefits of sleeping with earplugs in my ears. It allows me to fall asleep faster and sleep deeper.