Add that to the continuing and mounting problems with recovery, school, work… the list goes on, but there are a lot of different questions that one will ask. But one thing that we often forget about as care takers and as survivors is motivation and willpower. Living with a TBI or caring for someone who has it can be draining both emotionally and physically. Some people learn to cope with it as part of a new lifestyle after TBI, and some are lucky to eventually overcome the lack of motivation and energy that these people and families face.
To help with your energy and motivation, here are some tips that I have learned over the years to build back up energy and motivation:
Have Patience- Realize That Healing Takes Time
In my time of recovery, one of the largest things that caregivers and victims of TBI must learn is that like any other wound or injury, the recover process is going to take time. The sooner you realize that regardless of the role, the sooner the healing can begin. It is critical that you take the time as well to make peace with the fact that things are going to be different in your life whether you want them to be or not. It is OK to be angry or sad over this life changing event- but do not spend too much time dwelling on it.
Find a Support Group, Partner, or Mentor
One of the most life-changing decisions that I had made was when I joined a study conducted by Roswell Park Cancer Institute of Buffalo, NY, and 16 survivors ranging between the ages of 18 and 30, including myself, talked about our stories and the challenges that we went through from the diagnosis to our lives today. Although the process took 2 years and was extremely extensive, one of the things that we did is create the Young Adult Survivors Organization, where that group of 16 people has now exploded into a network of over 200- for people to find someone with a “been there, done that!” attitude and experience. Finding someone, or a group of people to connect with really helped me in my times of hardship and need, and getting the support and love from strangers I have never met up to that point was incredible. If there isn’t a group, Partner, or Mentor near you, turn to social media. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and even Linked In have professional groups online where you can possibly meet someone to help you take the next steps.
Talk with Your Doctor/ Neurologist
Even though this sounds a bit cliché, you would be surprised how many people want to never see a hospital or a doctor again after being in the hospital frequently or for extended periods of time. Most of the time, it is not necessarily the injury itself, but rather the medications that you are on. Talk with your doctor and discuss the option of getting weaned off your medications. Personally, I was on 10 different medications initially and could get off all of them within 2 years after my initial surgery. Feeling tired or unmotivated due to prescription drugs can be common, but often overlooked.
Set Realistic Goals and Milestones, and Be Accountable
Another way to stay motivated after a TBI is to set realistic goals and milestones, and more importantly, be accountable for them. Tying back to having a support group, partner, or mentor, you need to hold yourself accountable for attaining the goals that you want in life. Make a reasonable assessment where you are at, and make some form of progress towards your goals. For example, I went back to college with a 7th grade reading level, and I had to work my way back to having enough of a reading comprehension to succeed and graduate from college. I found a special education tutor to help me bring myself back up to pace, which ignited my motivation and future graduation with my Bachelor’s Degree. Today, as someone who is currently working on a Doctoral Dissertation, reflecting, I have had the same group of people to check in on me, make sure I was making progress, and putting success back into my hands. We all make mistakes, but the important part is to ensure that we own up to them and quickly learn and move on.
Dr. Cory Los Schumacher, Ed.D., ABD, M.Ed., B.A.