What Lies Within

What Lies Within

The brain controls everything, so when a brain is injured, it feels as if everything’s out of control, and there’s nothing we humans love more than being in control.

I don’t know what it’s like to want to say one word and have another word come out of my mouth, or to try to walk, only to find my feet all tripped up, but I’ve witnessed the man I love most struggling to perform simple tasks, and I’ve felt out of control myself because I could not help him.

In the early days of caring for Hugh after his severe TBI, I’d feel a bit annoyed when people would say things like, “Take it one day at a time.” I’d sometimes whisper in my mind, “How about YOU take it one day at a time, I’ll go back to my old life, thank you!” Not nice thoughts, I know, but true. I wanted control. I wanted a problem I could fix.

Many years have gone by now, and I’ve learned a good deal about resilience. In a resilience study, Dr. Emilie Godwin reports that resilient individuals and families know how to “normalize crisis.” The phrase sounds like an oxymoron to me. Normal and crisis don’t belong together, like the words “awfully good” or “painfully lucky.” But when I realized what she meant by this, it all made sense. Normalizing crisis simply means that people see their problems as something manageable, something they can handle. When we don’t normalize crisis, we remain in crisis mode (one definition of crisis is “dangerous or worrying time”) and we’re stuck in a frame of mind that keeps us from moving forward. In short, we see our problems as hopeless.

Over the course of my entire experience as a caregiver I’ve learned this vital lesson: All of our problems have solutions. They are among us and within us.

We find solutions to our problems and even our crisis-like problems when we reach out to others, when we accept help, when we listen and follow sound advice. These are the solutions we find among us. When some problems prove too difficult to overcome, when they feel insurmountable and there seems to be no help available at all, the solution lies within us. We dig deep to find the fortitude, acceptance, and grace to move forward day by day until we eventually emerge from the fog as we draw strength from our personal faith and our human need to seek meaning from adversity.

Sometimes, the only answers to our problems lie within us. These answers may be hard to find, but they are worth seeking because they bring us peace. The first step is knowing they are there, inside us, waiting to be found.

Comments (4)

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I want to say thank you for this article. It hasn't been a full year yet since my TBI so I so get the feelings you are talking about. Sometimes it is discouraging when I have a set back and I feel myself sinking into depression. But I remember how far I have come in less than a year. My brother has taken care of me since I got out of rehab. I feel sorry that he has to deal with all of this. He has been wonderful and I love him more than he'll ever know... Again I just wanted to say thank you.
I agree SO MUCH with your thoughts. We do need to see a problem before we can begin to work on it. Thank you for this article. -John Hatten Brain Injury Feeling, Focusing, and Functioning Counselor "Let's Get to Work!"
I did not have a caregiver. From day one I was on my own from keeping up house work to walking 5 miles round trip to therapy. I have a husband and plenty of family but it is such an invisible injury that they felt no need to assist. So you are blessing. You have great courage and patience.
Thank you. There is a peace in accepting what is. Initially I fought to get back to the me I had been before. It only made things worse. I only began to move forward when I accepted that I had changed yet there was still purpose in my life. My injury still causes times of frustration but I have learned with patience there is a way...around to what I want/need. Thank you for sharing and for being a supportive caregiver. You have it worse I think. We, the injured can forget. You the caretaker, see and know the huge gaps and frustrations. In my case my husband got a kid vs a wife. I am at 5 years this August out. I only now am becoming that wife..somewhat. I gave him the option to go, this wasn't the bargain but he stayed. We are closer now than before despite the things I can not do or be. God bless you for staying. It is not easy.