We all encounter various forms of bad news in our life, sometimes at separate times or simultaneously. No matter what it is or its scope, it can be jarring, devastating, and often turn our world upside down. However, there’s probably no worse news for me than learning that your only options were a life in a vegetative state or death.
With a thirty percent chance of survival and an unfavorable prognosis, it’s so easy to just give up and not bother trying because what’s the point anyway, right? I was only 16, with a bright future ahead of me. I was supposed to be enjoying my teenage years, dating, and transitioning to adulthood. Sadly, there I was on my hospital bed, being told by medical professionals that there’s not much hope.
But I was stubborn enough not to believe that those were my only options, so I wanted to prove them wrong. Instead of allowing those negativities to consume me, I used them as a powerful motivator to live a successful life. Rather than focusing on what I can’t do, I looked for the ‘how’ of things to overcome the mental barriers after my brain injury.
6 Steps To Enhance Memory and Mindset
Thankfully, I did not have to go through everything alone. Aside from the support of my loved ones, I used various tools and strategies to help my brain function better. I focused on proactive management of my brain health to support it to function at its maximum through 6 essential steps.
- Be proactive in taking control of your health
Being proactive is about taking responsibility for your life and in control of your health. At a very young age, I learned that I couldn’t keep blaming everything on circumstances or conditions, but I also knew that I shouldn’t let their medical opinions dictate my future. I needed to be dedicated and make conscious decisions to overcome different barriers post severe traumatic brain injury.
I didn’t go from a negative prognosis to the best-selling author today by simply sitting there and wait for things to happen. I went to therapies and relied on different brain management strategies. I turned ‘cant’ into ‘how’ after brain trauma by looking for solutions to restore my brain’s natural ability to remember and learn.
- Diet, exercise, and hydration
We all know that diet, exercise, and hydration are crucial for our well-being and health. These lifestyle conditions are known to contribute to our brain’s ability to counteract neurological issues. Studies have also revealed that exercise and dietary manipulations have powerful therapeutic potential.
Since exercise and diet are a fundamental part of human life, not only did they help me get back on my feet and played a crucial role in enhancing my brain recovery. Drinking plenty of fluids is also important, as dehydration can cause various health issues and may worsen the effects of traumatic brain injury. As I made healthy food choices and engaged in physical activities, I became more positive, which was necessary to adapt to changes in my life.
- Set goals
When you’re trying to recover from brain injury, both physically and mentally, those setbacks in your journey can be frustrating, discouraging, and overwhelming. But setting strong goals has been a powerful step for me to feel more motivated each day.
My goal to achieve full recovery after receiving an unfavorable prognosis might seem unrealistic and too ambitious, especially for medical professionals who predicted I wouldn’t be able to live a normal life. But goal setting has proven to be an essential step to effective problem solving necessary for self-determination and self-management. I directed all of my efforts to my desired outcome. I said what I meant and meant what I said and confronted the source of my problems head-on.
- Pacing yourself
One of the things I learned in my journey to recovery is the importance of pacing yourself. Although I might’ve had a seemingly ambitious goal at that time, I constantly monitored myself to ensure I don’t wear myself out because it’s so easy to overdo myself (it was trial and error for a while though as I tried to be ‘normal’ first).
As I developed pacing skills, I learned to maximize my resources when faced with mental, emotional, social, and physical limitations. While I love the sense of accomplishment after completing a range of tasks, I don’t try to accomplish too much in a day to the point of exhaustion. It requires a lot of trial and error, but the key is trying to listen to your body.
- Be surrounded by positive people
Being positive after a brain injury is challenging, but it’s possible. I struggled to deal with the changes in my life and the way I was feeling, but thanks to the people who love me, I was able to overcome those negativities and became more motivated to recover.
It’s true that when you’re surrounded by positive people who genuinely care about you and want the best for you, it’s easier to gain confidence, and you’re likely to adopt empowering beliefs. I realized that positivity is contagious, and I feel blessed to have tons of new friends, family members, and loved ones who remain positive despite my condition.
- Utilize memory strategies
My memory management app, diaries, and calendar are currently my lifesavers. These tools have been of great help in putting my life in order and making sure I am on top of everything. Since I cannot rely on my memory, I need to use reminding strategies to establish routines and remember appointments. I also use them even with the most mundane tasks, like paying my monthly bills. I need these aids to limit or reduce the demands on my memory.
I believe that healing and recovery from a brain injury are about more than physiology and anatomy. This belief is why receiving a prognosis of death or life in a vegetative state did not stop me from trying and working hard to achieve my goal. My journey led me to become the best-selling author who proved my doctors wrong and is now helping others with brain injury reach their highest potential.