As a Special education teacher I deal with students who have experienced some sort of TBI, or traumatic brain injury. It has been one of the saddest and most frustrating things I have seen others experience. A boy that had been in an accident; one minute normal and enjoying their childhood, the next a totally different person and no idea if or when it would get better.
Students who have brain surgery to remove cancerous masses, or stop recurring seizures. Life altering situations.
I have seen sweet students struggle with a reduced ability to write legibly, get severe headaches for just trying to read a couple paragraphs and get frustrated when something that used to come so naturally to them is now a constant struggle, or even no longer possible. I wish I could take away their pain and frustration. I pray that God will heal them and they will somehow live a normal life again.
These stories break my heart, but I do everything in my power to support them and I always have hope. I encourage them to keep trying, but also learn to understand their new limits. Not to expect too much for themselves, but never stop reaching higher. I also try to support the parents, because they are struggling as well. They need energy to get through their day, emotional support when the dark times come and some solid advice on how to deal with a child that is different than the one they spent years raising. This brings me to the personality issue.
There is a dark side of Traumatic brain injury that is not often discussed; that is the personality disorders and mood changes that come with it.
Not only do I work with students that have issues in this area, I was married to a person who has Epilepsy. I saw first hand the effects that multiple seizures and head injuries resulting from serious falls can cause. It was a difficult life, but I gave my all to his care because I cared and wanted him and our family healthy and whole. After what I have experienced and the research I have done in my education, so much is clearer to me…
Head injuries are serious, and should be considered as such. If left untreated or undiagnosed the consequences can be deadly physically, but I guarantee that mentally and emotionally it can be just as bad, if not worse.
The most important topic of all of this, the high correlation between people with TBI or repeated head injuries and suicide. Without boring you with a ton of statistics I read up on, the story goes something like this; multiple head injures cause cognitive impairment and personality/mood changes, which then can lead to substance abuse and all of these issues combined can lead to suicidal ideations. This is the tip of the iceberg. Do your research, read multiple studies and learn for yourself.
Pretty serious situations. Scary for those going through it. For those people I know going through this I do pray for their healing. I pray that they will be one day brought back to the person they use to be, before the evil of the world changed them.
I also pray that people will have the wisdom they need when dealing with these people. Care for them, but don’t believe everything they say. Give them what they need, but not everything they want. Set boundaries for yourself and for them. Ultimately rely on the care of doctors, trust them and pray that some day all things will be restored.
If you are caring for a loved one who is experiencing these symptoms seek out care for both of you, medical care and support groups, good friends and family and your church community. Do not do it alone, it is a lonely and scary place to be.