Recently I was asked if the trauma from automobile accidents is similar to or in the same scope as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) from an automobile accident. The answer is most definitely. The biggest differences seem to be greater cognitive difficulties (such as word retrieval, memory loss) and neurological damage with TBI’s. But the mood disorders and fatigue and personality changes are virtually the same. And of course there is the fear of driving, persistent anxiety, along with nightmares and sleep disturbance.
Suffering from a TBI in addition to the trauma of the accident certainly muddles things up more, and will add time to the healing process. The brain is sensitive and vulnerable, which is why it is so well protected by the hard skull. But when it does get damaged, it needs a long time and much TLC to allow it to heal. One big part of the healing process is to spend at least 10-15 minutes daily in a state of deep relaxation. Breathing is an excellent way to achieve this state. When deeply relaxed, the brain, the mind, and the body can ‘let go’ of the entrenched tension and tightness that has taken hold. The nervous system can relax, releasing from its contracted state. This deep place of rest allows the body to do its healing work.
People with TBI fare much better when they give themselves ‘permission to be out of sorts’. Knowing that there is a real reason why they are so forgetful, or why they cannot tolerate being in crowds or anywhere where there is a lot of sensory stimulation, or why they are so fatigued all the time, etc, helps to promote a gentleness towards your self and your healing process. You need to compensate for all the ways that you are temporarily not functioning normally. Making ‘to do’ lists, staying at home more, are but a few ways to take the edge off. But they need to be done without harsh self judgement. Be gentle, be kind, be easy, understand that most likely this compromised state is temporary and out of your control.
Good luck with your journey. Let me know how it’s going. And remember, we are here to help. This is what we do at SOMA.
Beverly Schwartz, LCSW