Dealing with frustration is a common part of every day life. Anger and frustration come from many different sources, whether it is frustration at not being able to afford the holiday you had been saving for, or whether it is anger at the fact that your boss has forced you to work an extra day this week. However, one of the things that people take away from these moments of frustration is that there is usually some kind of comfort or recompense once the unpleasant act is completed. Even if you can’t afford the holiday at the four-star hotel, you can afford the slightly cheaper three-star hotel: it wont be quite as classy but a good holiday nonetheless. Or after you have worked the extra day in the month you look at your paycheck and see an extra fifty pounds that wouldn’t have been there otherwise, meaning a nice day out for you and your partner.
But what about the people where that frustration has no outlet? What about the people who have to live with something day in, day out for the rest of their lives with no chance of recompense or consolation of any kind? That’s the thing with head injuries, there is no escape route, it is a case of learning to live with the situation you’re in.
I think a key aspect of understanding that frustration for someone who does not suffer from a brain injury is to understand the sources of those frustrations. So before I go into what can help ease them, lets have a look at what I find to be the biggest source of irritation since I suffered my Acquired Brain Injury.
The Contributing Factors
- The Injustice – Most brain injuries are suffered after an accident of some kind: car accidents, sporting accidents or as in my case an act of random violence. This is difficult to take as we have not impacted on the situation at all. We have a tendency to go down the “what if…” path. We consider where our life would be now, had it not been changed so spectacularly due to no fault of our own (except in rare circumstance) .
- Mourning A Loss – As patients, head injury victims are going through a monumental change. We come to realize, as if we have been asleep, that there is something different. Our brain is slower, the way we think is different and in some cases there are physical handicaps that infringe on our ability to live a normal life. Having to come to terms with these changes in such a short space of time there are quite obviously and quite rightly issues of anger and frustration there as we mourn the person we used to be and get used to the person we are now.
- An Inability To Communicate & Have People Understand – This is something I found particularly difficult. After you have suffered from a brain injury, people come up to you and ask if you’re ok. You want to tell them, you want to express the way you feel: confused, angry, frustrated and emotional. People don’t really seem able to grasp the kind of changes that you’re going through (through no fault of their own, since a brain injury is one of those things I’m not sure you can really understand unless you have experienced it). I mean – really understand and offer sympathy and empathy. This in turn then leads to isolation and the patient cutting himself or herself off.
- The Permanence Of The Situation – This is the real big one and it is how brain injuries differ from most other afflictions. If you contract an illness such as meningitis, after a certain period of time you can be cured. You return to full strength and you are in a fantastic state of health. You can look back at that period and reflect on your luck that it didn’t get any worse, may be share a few in-jokes amongst family and friends. This is certainly not the case with a brain injury. The chances are with some smaller improvements, the brain injury will affect the way you live your day-to-day life forever.
When you take numbers 1, 2 and 3 into account while dealing with number 4 at the same time; it is fairly easy to understand where those issues of anger and frustration come from…
Overcoming The Negative Voices
The important thing is not to let those two emotions rule your life. “How?” I hear you ask. It is most certainly difficult but it is possible. It certainly helps to have a tight nit family group around you who support and encourage you at whatever you want to try. I was fortunate enough to have that. The best way that I can advise people to overcome those feelings of frustration and resentment is to try and channel those emotions into something positive. Whether that positivity is setting yourself a long-term goal of getting back to work or education, whether it is creative endeavors such as writing or art, getting involved with charity work or vocational courses. There are so many ways to channel those negative energies into something positive that can work out fantastically for people and you never know where they will lead you.
One thing my granddad always says to me is “If you do things for the right reasons, things have a tendency to work out.” The best way to approach something is to do it for altruistic reasons but also with a way that can help you at the same time (for example, I write blogs on my experiences of suffering an ABI which I hope will help people but at the same time, will hopefully increase my chances of becoming a professional writer, my life’s ambition). By doing the right activities and aiming for the right targets we can aid the recovery of our brains, learn new skills, meet new people and try to make the most of life that has dealt us a bad hand.
Finally and most importantly, doing things each day that help other people and keep us busy and motivated give us a sense of accomplishment and pride at the end of each day. Trust me, these positive voices have a tendency to drown out the negative ones when given a chance. We all just have to believe that there is a future out there for us that is better than the present. Perhaps, more importantly though, that we are capable of achieving that future and that we deserve it!
About the author
My life was changed for ever on the 30th of August 2009 when an attack on a night out left me with sever brain injuries. I was left in an induced come after suffering fractures to the skull, bleeds on the brain, as well as severe bruising to the frontal lobes. Since the injury I have found it hard to find and keep work, to maintain relationships, and generally stay positive. I have decided to share all of my journey with you, in the hope we can bring brain injury awareness to the level it should be at. Please, follow my own WordPress blog Life After Brain Injury to keep up to date with my brain injury journey! Follow me on Twitter: @ABIBlogger
Tom Massey, ABI Blogger