Me, In Recovery by Jason Levinson, MA LPA CBIST

Article by Moody Neuro

Rehabilitation from an acquired brain injury is hard. You are living your life as a regular adult and then one day, it all suddenly changes. Eating may be difficult. Memory is not what it used to be. Going to the bathroom is a full-on physical event. And you may not feel much like yourself anymore. You may feel like you cannot recognize yourself in the mirror. Maybe even looking in the mirror is hard.

One of the biggest emotional issues after an acquired brain injury is that the injury feels like an attack on personal identity. You know who you were prior to the injury, but you may think “Who am I at this moment, now that I have lived through this injury with all of these deficits?” This feeling of having your identity attacked can lead to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and lack of patience with yourself. One of the steps that can be taken in this struggle is to embrace an identity of “Me, In Recovery.”

If you are objective, so much of yourself did not change with the injury. You have the same relationships, such as being a father, sister or son. You have the same memory, knowledge and history, such as your memories of growing up or knowledge from your jobs. You often have parts of your body that work just fine. For instance, your left arm may not work well but your right arm may work perfectly. It is vital to keep in the front of your mind all of the many areas that were not affected by the brain injury. You are still “you.”

Next, it is important to have a recovery “identity.” You are acknowledging that you are still “you”, just going through a process of recovery and rehabilitation. The recovery “identity” should be reinforced by how you speak to yourself, whether it be out loud or the voice in your mind. Your voice is the voice that you hear the most and the one with the most influence on your daily life. Healthy self-talk encourages a healthy outlook in life. Here are some examples of how you can change what you say to build your recovery identity.

 Before  Recovery Identity
 “I am not me anymore” “This is me, and I am working on my improvement”
 “I cannot walk”  “I cannot walk yet, but I am doing more than before”
 “I have no memory”  “I have memory problems but I am getting better”
 “My life is over”  “I am in a transition phase working toward my future”
 “No one will love me like this”

 “My family still loves me and supports me in this journey”

 “I am hopeless”

“I am dealing with change and building a better tomorrow”

Embracing this recovery identity, including changing your self-talk, needs to be an active process. This needs to be practiced on a daily basis and it is helpful to recruit family members/friends to help encourage this process. For instance, if your family member hears you make a negative statement about yourself, they can help you by making a statement that encourages your recovery identity. With daily practice, you can develop a better recovery identity, and create a healthier outlook in your rehabilitation journey.

For more information on brain injury recovery and rehabilitation, Please contact Moody Neuro.