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Brain damage in the area of the left frontal-temporal lobe is fairly common. That is also the area of the brain that is thought to be responsible for depressive symptoms. Because some percentage of us do not want to be identified as having a psychiatric problem-- cripes, the brain injury is "bad enough" we think without adding the word "nutcase" to the mix-- we ignore the development of suicidal ideology or any indication of a mood disorder at our peril. Our brains are damaged. There are people who think we are whacked, odd, different, dumb, stupid, peculiar or weird anyway. If prescription meds used as prescribed are able to give us a break from some distressing symptoms then why not? That false ego that says, "I can do this myself" or worse yet, "I can blend in and be like everybody else" can kill us. It takes strength and honesty to conclude that we cannot conquer all of this crap on our own. It takes guts to ask for help. Some of us who were already being treated for psychiatric conditions pre-injury will find that our old levels of medication no longer maintain us. We need more.
Recognizing a need for professional assistance or a need for more of a previously adequate dose of psych meds is not a cause for alarm unless we make it so. This insight is a sign that the left lobe of the brain is not all dead yet. Insight originates somewhere in the left lobe. The ability to put that insight into action rests within the frontal lobe. If we are able to determine that something isn't working, we might choose to endorse ourselves rather than to put ourselves down. Even better the ability to act on that knowledge [or to ask someone to help us] and locate a medical doctor of some sort who understands at least something about traumatic brain injury and will undertake to prescribe for us.
Presenting ourselves to that professional is a beginning. We have to be willing to answer some background questions and to listen to suggestions. This is not a passive operation. Our appointments are a chance to list the symptoms that bother us and to ask questions about medicine or any other treatment which is suggested. The reality is that public mental health or behavioral health clinics often do not listen well. Locating some help within the private sector [providing our health insurance will pay enough towards said specialized help] might be the better option.
If you are finding any of the following:
You want to kill yourself or harm yourself or have been flirting with thoughts like that;
You have thought about how you would do it;
You have access to the weapon or instrument of your choice [such as a gun, knife, blades, pills, a car to drive over a cliff etc.];
You would do it if the random chance came up to off yourself;
You think you wouldn't have to worry about stuff or that the world or everyone would be better off if you just weren't here anymore;
s t o p reading this blog post, get off of the internet, and tell someone who will take you seriously what you have been thinking. If the first person you tell does not understand that you are serious about hurting yourself or committing suicide, then tell someone else.
Get to an emergency room if you must. Being drugged temporarily [and hospitalized if you have to be for your own safety] sucks but quite frankly, there is no hope of improvement if you are dead. It takes guts to ask for help.
If you are able to promise to postpone taking action on your suicidal thoughts, then call your doctor's office for an appointment, show up at a walk-in clinic, contact your insurance company for a referral list, or ask a family member or friend to assist you with this if you need to. Again, you don't know if these painful feelings could have been alleviated if you are dead.
What is distressing to me at brain injury conferences is the invariable presence of one or two survivors who have symptoms of major depression or schizophrenia or other disorder, are taking medication for their symptoms, but deny that they have a psych condition. Psych conditions can arise from the impaired functioning of the brain or from the stress of living with a t.b.i. or some combination of the two. They are separate disorders and we deserve treatment for them. It stands to reason that if we treat all of the health problems and complications that arise, we will have better outcomes. In other words, psychiatric symptoms just like the symptoms of our brain damage does not have to rule our lives.
With the brain injury, we can have many complications: photophobia, dry eyes, ocular motor dysfunction, hearing loss, sleep apnea, impaired limb movement, paralyses, motor disorders, language disorders, structural changes in our feet as well as gait changes, fatigue, obesity, addictions, slowed cognitive functioning, and more. We don't hesitate to pursue medical alleviation for any of these issues. Why is something with psychiatric implications different? The bottom line is that many if not all thought and mood disorders have neurology as a basis, or at the very least contributing neurology.
Yes, there is certainly widespread discrimination [screw the nami mommies and their big pharma monies and their talk about "stigma"] against people who have psychiatric labels. Guess what? There is discrimination against brain injury survivors too, just like any other potentially disabling condition. If you haven't run into it, you probably will. [If you don't, please contact me and tell me what state and country you live in. I want to migrate there].
I've lost friends to suicide. It isn't any fun. Suicide hurts those that we leave behind-- whether we think it will or not. Brain damage, like any other changes in neurology, brings on changes in one's life. Don't make this any harder on yourself than it already is. Commit to staying alive and to taking care of your mental health, just like you would the rest of you.
sapphoq on t.b.i.