"Brain Injury Is ..." Brain Injury Defined By People Who Are Living With It

Brain Injury Is...

Brain Injury defined by the people who are living with it ...

BrainLine asked our online community to share their personal definitions of traumatic brain injury, and the list below captures some of the many responses so generously provided by people with TBI.

Every individual’s experience with traumatic brain injury is unique, but there are many common symptoms and emotions. Anger, fear, sadness, and anxiety may be accompanied by difficulties with memory, pain, and the challenges of maintaining relationships.

We encourage you to add your own definitions in the comments section below, and to join the BrainLine community on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest.

A puzzle … all the pieces are there but in the wrong order.

When the cursor disappears from your mental computer screen.

Brain fog, confusion, difficulty learning new things, being able to be “high-functioning” but being very slow at it.

An invisible thief.

Devastating. Exhausting. Widely misunderstood.

Scary. I look the same but I feel like someone else.

MIA or AWOL … Missing in Action or Away Without Leaving!

An invisible memory-taker, mood-changer, life-changer!

Like being under a constant waterfall and I’m just trying to catch my breath and not drown!

Thinking with speed bumps.

Like an earthquake in my brain that knocked down bridges and damaged highways and knocked out some —but not all —lines of communication. Some of these things get rebuilt more quickly than others, and some are easily re-damaged.

Like having everything in your life suspended in Jell-O, and just when you reach out for something, the Jell-O gets blended.

A family affair … when a family member has one, it affects everyone.

A constant struggle for the rest of your life … you know how you used to be and you want your life back … but it won't happen … it's like living in thick fog.

Scrambled egg between my ears.

The absolute hardest thing that you can imagine going through!! Unbelievably frustrating and isolating.

Learning to live in a brain that sometimes feels like it belongs to a stranger.

Forgetfulness and a total personality change.

Scary. Frustrating. Annoying. Funny at times … sometimes I feel rather than get frustrated about one of my deficits. It’s better just to laugh about it.

Limiting, difficult, having to “relearn” things you thought you already knew.

Unpredictable and extremely misunderstood.

Like having the flu all day, every day … for the rest of your life.

Trying to catch clouds in a windstorm.

Posted on BrainLine August 19, 2013.

Comments (418)

Please remember, we are not able to give medical or legal advice. If you have medical concerns, please consult your doctor. All posted comments are the views and opinions of the poster only.

There is no need in writing things down to remember..because I forget to remember I wrote them down..it totally leaves my mind once its done :'(

Realizing something is different but unable to define it...

I can only share with both victims and family members to be optimistic.  As TBI victims we are incredibly fragile but strong and resilient as well.  I suffered a severe TBI in August of 2012.  I tell others part of me died that day, but other parts of me flourished.  Family and survivors stay strong and stay determined.  Time helps victims like I but patience and understanding does as well!

Compare to someone updating your computer with a new and unexplained operating system without your permission.

A gift in disguise...I got a new fulfilling life, one that I embrace with love and acceptance.  It took me many years to see it this way.  

like trying to row a boat with only one hand/arm.  I'm still going somewhere ... it's just usually in circles.  Everyone else travels from point A to point B.   I hit every letter in the alphabet.

It,s harder than it looks, I,M on a Mountain right now, it,s a challenge, i,m going well, but its just the base of the Mountain, I climb higher,it gets more difficult, BUT I cannot get off this MOUNTAIN. ever...

Living each day with that looming feeling that you've forgotten something.

like the whole world is comprised of window dressing (I think that's the right term, a real term - the old me would know). i see a store, a house, a drawer, a book and from the outside they appear perfectly normal; But when I open the door to the house or the store, there's nothing inside.  When I open a book, the pages are blank.  When I open a drawer, it's empty.  Everything serves as  a prop in the one woman play for which I never auditioned.

Being an android. The only thing I'd really like to do is cry. But I don't have the ability anymore.

The past 27 plus months of my life have been about dealing with people who have amazing complexes, and they can only obtain parity by taking advantage of someone else.

I was 21 when it happened and then I can say that I am a survivor of a giant brain aneurysm.It`s a life changing experience and I learned that we cannot take everything for granted because we never know when our life can change by the events.I do appreciate little things those you cannot buy with money and I admit that I still in denial in some days and saying "WHY ME?".It`s painful and is  a  sort of sadness veil on my thoughts everyday ...copying and struggling in a continuous dance...appreciating and hating life at the same time,happy to be alive but struggling to accept it the new way

like running backwards up a sand-dune. To carry out the most basic tasks requires SO much more effort & energy than pre-mTBI. As my Specialist states, 'there's nothing MILD about an mTBI...' Of course, I look the same on the outside as I did before the assault & pre-mTBI so everybody expects me to function as I did before.

My version is this: TBI is like having a water hose to water the garden. The hose has so many holes in it you cant direct the water to the spout where you want it. The holes sprinkle enough water to mess up your clothes, your grip on the hose, and spray water in your car,your glasses and on the neighborhoods cat...all stuff you try to handle but every time you turn one of the other holes is spraying water somewhere else. Whenever you try to turn the hose, theres to much pressure and strength in the hose for you to wrestle it in the direction you need it. Stop one hole and the others rage, the hose spins out of control. You look like are playing in the water and breaking flowers irresponsibly. The only answer seems to turn the pressure completely off but unfortunately that means suicide,,.the knob is stuck on full blast.

A Nightmare! Almost 14 years since the car crash that I had survived, 7/15 on the Glasgow Comma Scale... lucky boy! I had a mental brake down 2 years ago and life has been hard, everyday is some kind of struggle. Stressed, memory problems, flashbacks, emotional, depression, anxiety, fear of life and no longer wanting to be here. Lost Mum 8 weeks ago so that is a hard time also...

...communication is the hardest thing to do...how do you tell someone something is wrong if you can't explain what it is? It's as though half of my body has been stuck in quicksand for 30 years (the top half!).

more reason to develop resillience, persistence, fierce self confidence AND humility. because guess whats there if you don't build that boat for yourself? a world that doesn't understand you, might even tell you you're making it up, and expects you to accomplish X Y and Z because you look fine. TBI is being dropped in a pool and told to learn how to float, then to swim.

Believing in yourself every moment of everyday.

Its a marriage that I never agreed to nor did I ever want its the nagging spouse that makes your good days bad and your bad days worse and will constantly remind you... Baby I will always be here for you...

A long strange trip without a light at the end of the tunnel.

The writer Larry McMurtry summed it up best for me, "It's like death, only you get to live"

Knowing how how to do something and being physically able to do it but not now you're mind wont let you anymore. Go from ripping apart heavy equipment one day to nauseated from the sound of an engine the next. You can remember what fun is and what normal is and all you want is that back and it just never seems to come. Marcus

"If only I could turn back time.." thoughts everytime. Jack. Mongolia

I lost the life that I loved and hate the one I now live. Warren

 Only survivor. It's being surprised by the words I say sometimes...I'll use a "big" word and think, how did I come up with that? Do I even remember what that word means? I used to know it--pre TBI--but it's usually like a Chinese word to me now. Except it will pop out on my "good" cognition days...and now, post TBI, I can barely remember the word and wonder what overturned file cabinet in my brain just righted itself for a second...(Received my TBI,  when a 10 ton water truck pummeled into our vehicle 30 years ago).

My injury occurred when I was 20 years old. Like trying to decide whether to sue or not, I decided to focus (excuse the pun) on recovery and a creating a positive future for myself. 25 years later, I have learnt to live with it. Those around me help me to 'ignore' it and I have had a high function type lifestyle, but at the cost of my confidence, hidden confusion and memory loss. Have other women noticed a direct link with premenstrual fluid build up ? Has anyone done any studies referencing TBI with the menstrual cycle ? After about 12 years (and children) the effects were lessened to the point that there was no futher relationship between TBI and the premenstrual cycle. Curious about others experiences. 

When I disappear for awhile, I like to tell my family and friends I was on vacation. I just don't know where I went or who I went there with. Karen

To me it's like being lost in my own head. I don't know where I"ve been and I don"t know where I'm going. It's like being caught in a swamp and I can't get out. A terrible depression comes with it.

Amazing and I love who I am now. 100% new me that isnt easy but simple.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
Revelation 3:20

Can you tell everyone about me?


please like this page for me and check it out

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Like looking in a mirror and seeing someone else.

It is like trying to walk straight through a strong tornado.

Brain injury is living a life that you do not even know, being replaced by a new you!

Feeling like your best is a taste a away but never comes for every one progress another problem comes around.

"Walking on eggs shells and not knowing what the current day or the next has to offer" Randy L Summers

I just learned my TBI is cause for how I have felt (struggled) for the past 25 years.  No one told me...  until now.  My mind spins.  I think very fast (like brainstorming), and then become exhausted and have great difficulty making decisions.  

Disconnected, isolated, misunderstood, "so close, yet so far away", alternate universe (on the outside, looking in), 2-second delay, apathetic, forget to remember to look at lists I write, forget goals, useless, unworthy, etc...

Definitely feels like im a senior sometimes......but im only 20. Its embarassing because i am actually pretty intelligent. ;/

What I always tell people about my memory since the TBI is: "I am like a computer with a broken processor, the memory is there, the indexing is poor." - Jeffrey B.

All I can think of is its like my life is an etch a sketch where I shake it and then I have a fresh start.  I feel lucky each new day because I know I am alive.  Do I wish it never happened ?  Of course I do but I'm realistic and this is my life now.  And the most important thing is I have life!  Its a journey each new day...

it is more frustrating than anything i've done or been through! i'm recovering but so slowly it's depressing

PLEASE SOMEONE HELP ME!!  a 23 yr. old living in pittsburgh,PA

Being lost in my mind, not knowing the words I need, obsessing so I dont forget not being able to recall what the man looks like who hit me so hard he cracked my picture of him. I want to remember what he looks like so I can find the bastard & run him over (rageful).Everything is slowed down now, my head hurts more, my neck my back, I am confused & dizzy.

Its irritating & scarey

Frustrating not remembering even the greatest moments such as the birth of my daughter , starting a conversation and forget what I was talking about somewhere in it , maddening ringing like a gun fired next to my ear . Emotional wreck most of the time , fumbling & stumbling isn't funny , feels like I fell asleep in a rotating dryer , movements require intense concentration , angry alot . I don't look at pictures cause I really don't want to know how I used to be ....it hurts too much . But all in all I'm determined to do some things , it (tbi) took alot but I won't let it have it all. Hit in Feb.2012

the BEST WAY i can describe it... cut n dry... is like having a chalkboard n your head, only the slate is WIPED CLEAN :/

I have been living with my brain injury since I was 6 years old when I was hit in the head by the batter and knocked unconscious .  At the age of 19 I fell off a forty foot cliff while fighting a fire in the California Conservation Corp.  When I finally landed in the hospital they said I had a TBI and Hydroencephalitis.  They gave me a VP Shunt to help drain off all the extra fluid on my brain.  Which helped with the headaches.  But it is not a permanent solution and has been repaired or replaced some 14 times.

Brain injury is..... A bitch. Can't ever get away from it. Survivor 34 years.

Remembering who I used to be and not remembering me now.  Frustrated, angry, sad, confused.  More than anything deeply saddened that I don't remember my son growing up.  Thankful that family gave me a camera for pictures of him.  Truly angry that the person that did this to me only got a $100 ticket and I almost died!  So much that I don't remember.  Started writing a book about it but can't remember sequences of things.  Just so frustrating because I can't get the care I need!

i remember my days in the hospital some 35 years ago and i went to a park in OKC just to get fresh air and change of scenery.  I jogged after a Frisbee wrong thing to do.  i felt i was in a glass cage and i did not know how to get out.  Who was this new person inside my body and mind?  I was strong 17 year old that could do anything i wanted and communicating was a breeze  not any longer.  I facilitate a brain injury support group with my work and i used the illustration of brain injury is like a Rubik's cube the colors represent ones ability to be whole and the jumbled colors are a survivors current ability to deal with a ever changing world.  Praise God when two of the same colors align.

VERY FRUSTRATING!!  I can't find words, they're like files all screwed up.  I remember through repetition but nobody's repeating just getting upset!  Had a hard time accepting the new me and letting go of the old me.  I fought hard to get my life back.  I'm now trying to find where I fit in with my limitations.  I'm afraid of the world.  Everyone expects me to be normal.  I don't feel normal whatever that is anymore.  No one relates to  the TBI. They don't relate problems with TBI. I tried working.  Put in 60 hr wks making up.  Burnt out. 


I was blown up by a truck tire in 1976 i have gone down hill ever since i was married in 1985 i was divorced in 2009 because my wife could not deal with my brain injury i am all alone i feel like no one cares i struggle to survive i can not remember things i have good moods & bad moods i am angry & don't no why I say things i dont mean & hurt others i dont mean to it just happens there are times i know what want i want to say & but i cant get the words out. this life is hell on earth. Desmond

Like being robbed of your identity and purpose in life but every single day you get up and try so hard to be even half of what you were....and Never getting there. 

Memories are shadows observed from afar.

TBI survival is having your automatic transmission magically changed while you sleep into standard transmission. You start at the beginning learning to shift & clutch in EVERY activity whether drinking water without choking or sitting up in bed. Unlike an infant who, with practice, goes into automatic transmission you are stuck in standard transmission forever

A lifelong commitment of love, caring, support and patience for the loved child who was in a deep, dark coma for so long. Upon wakening, this child is not the same one who was in an accident, who was away for so long in a place that we will never understand. It is a lifelong commitment to God for returning this child to me regardless of the  changes that occured during this illness. A lifetime of understanding and nuturing. Guidance,  grief, acceptance and denial. Happiness, anger.  Wonder and hope.  He is with me and for that I thank God. He was my little boy, and now he is my wonderful young man.