How I handle the holidays as an ABI survivor

BY: MARK KONING  

Isn’t that how the song goes? “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” But for some I think you could easily substitute wonderful with stressful or depressing.

pile of presents
photo credit: Rev. Xanatos Satanicos Bombasticos (ClintJCL) via photopin cc

The days surrounding Christmas can be both joyful and stressful for many individuals who are out there listening to festive songs while fighting through the crowds at the mall. But when you factor in a brain injury things can become much more intense. I speak from experience as an ABI survivor when I say that the financial pressures we face, the family situations that come up, the social functions we’re expected to attend, and just the pace of the season can be a bit much.

I consider myself blessed because I have a pretty good family foundation and support system which keeps me staying positive, and doesn’t expect a lot from me. I help my mom with all of the decorations around the house. I write both as a therapy tool and to share with others. I have a social worker I can to talk to, and I’ve put in a lot of effort into trying to remain a positive person.

All of these things help me stay connected to others. I’ve learned the effort it takes to maintain these connections is easier than living with the challenges of being isolated. And I use the word effort because that is what it is, regardless of how much I do, it is an effort. It is an effort when others cannot understand what I live with. But for me, I really don’t see (or even understand) the alternative.

The opposite of effort is “hesitation, idleness, inactivity, laziness, or passivity” and then there is just plain old giving up, and none of these things are me.

The Christmas season can be a hard one to get through, no doubt, but don’t be afraid to speak up, look those difficulties in the face and push back. Be active, ask for some help. You never know what you may find. No one should be made to feel that they are alone.

Try to remember the real meaning, the value, of Christmas. A brain injury survivor may have to work a little harder for that smile to emerge on his or her lips, (or perhaps just in the heart is good enough) but it can go a long way. Things can get hard at times, but I keep reminding myself that this brain injury of mine does not dictate my happiness.

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