How to Turn Your Rock bottom into your Breakthrough (Without EVER Playing the Victim Card)
Since having a stroke back in 2008, a constant concern that runs through my mind is, “I want people to take me seriously when I talk about my brain injury, but I don’t want anyone to think I am using my brain injury as a victim card or a free pass.”
As a result of that concern …
… I repressed all of the thoughts and feelings that I had in response to my brain injury. Some of those thoughts included “I’m stupid, “I’m un-coordinated,” “I’m weird,” and “I have no friends”. A bigger problem arose because I ruminated over those thoughts, instead of talking about those thoughts to a mental health professional. As I ruminated, more serious negative thoughts entered my mind such as, “I have no purpose in life” and “I’m better off dead than alive.”
It’s probably not hard to imagine that ruminating over incredibly negative thoughts like the ones I just mentioned ended up bringing me to a very dark place. I think it’s important to note that as soon as I started ruminating, I created momentum; so my experience of rock bottom got continuously lower at a quicker pace each passing day. (Yes it is true that momentum can occur for positive behaviour and it can occur for negative behaviour).
Since then, I realized the rumination needs to end and regardless of what others might think about me talking about my brain injury, my thoughts and feelings need to discussed. So now I’ve come to 3 important conclusions:
1) If I feel the need to vent about something, I talk to a good friend or a mental health professional. I do not go to social media to complain and ask for sympathy.
2) If my message on social media has nothing to do with sympathy and the victim card, people likely won’t assume that it does.
3) There may always be some people who believe I am using my brain injury as a victim card, no matter how I share my message.
Here’s the thing …
… my message first and foremost is that you can use your mind to retrain your brain. Meaning that no matter what your current physical abilities are, you can use your mental capabilities to improve, adapt, and recover.
In most aspects of my life, especially when it comes to my brain injury, I am very careful to not impose limitations on myself. For example, I no longer call myself stupid as a result of my brain injury, but instead I might say something like “I made a mistake”. I no longer say “I am experiencing neuro-fatigue, but instead say “I’m tired” and then get a good night’s sleep. And I no longer refer to myself as having particular post-brain injury deficits, but instead just focusing on practicing and adapting.
And I don’t even bother entertaining the thought of “life-long recovery” because with anything and everything you do in life, brain injury or not, every single human being needs to repeat an action over and over so that it can be strengthened. To me this is a natural healing and improvement process and framing it as life-long recovery can be incredibly discouraging.
By the way, I am not making up the term “life-long recovery” – I’ve heard it be used countless times in the brain injury community and I really do think it is depressing as hell.
Instead of imposing limiting beliefs on yourself and self-sabotaging your personal growth, try setting yourself up for success simply by changing the words that you use. I actually made five 60 second videos on my Instagram, each discussing a negative word I no longer use in my personal narrative. Make sure to head over to my Instagram account so you too can remove those 5 narrative swear words from your vocabulary.
But No One is Perfect …
Now, just because I try very hard to remain optimistic and set myself up for success, that does not mean I’ve stopped having negative thoughts about myself. On the contrary, there are still times where negative thoughts like “I am stupid” or “I am weird” or “I can’t” or even “things would be better if I were dead” do pop into my head. But I have become very good at responding to those thoughts appropriately instead of ruminating over them.
See, at the beginning of every YouTube video, when I say I turned my rock bottom into my breakthrough, that does not mean that negative things stopped happening to me.
Alternatively, that means I became much better at responding to negative things.
So when I talk about brain injury awareness, it’s not because I want other people to give me sympathy and it’s definitely not because I want to encourage other brain injury survivors to use their injury as a crutch.
I talk about brain injury awareness because I hope that other people can have more empathy and understanding toward those who have sustained brain injuries. And, I talk about brain injury awareness so that brain injury survivors can recognize that they need to focusing more on overcoming life challenges rather than feeling defeated by them.
So whether you’re a brain injury survivor, a caregiver, or any type of rock bottom survivor, if you guys found this post helpful don’t forget to share it with at least 1 friend. As always, I hope you have a great day and don’t forget to make this the #YearofYou!
Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional health advice.