Brain Training

How Motivational Tattoos is helping me ‘Breathe’ and calm my injured brain down

Breathe: A pin badge by Motivational Tattoos, wearing it alongside the Alphabet Brains Brain Injury Emoji Badge they make the perfect pair.

Thanks to Motivational Tattoos I’m trying this new thing where I try to breathe before I snap back at people. Try is in italics, because my god is it hard… This is because my brain takes over in these moments and I don’t know what I’m saying until it’s too late. My brain no longer has the ability to slow down and think about certain situations.

It happens when I’m busy doing something, I’ll snap (or often shout) back “I’m busy!”

It happens when there is too much noise. Often resulting in me snapping or once again shouting “WHAT?!”, actually now I think about it I mainly shout when there is too much noise… Noise sensitivity is awful to live with. I just wish people understood that I shout because of this and not because they think I’m a bitch or nasty person.

It happens when I’m learning something new or if I don’t understand something. After a brain injury the brain can’t handle pressure easily. With my brain, depending on how tired I am my brain can handle different amounts of pressure for different amounts of time.

It happens when I’m tired and my chronic fatigue has kicked in. All the above things are thrown into my brain all at once. It’s a noisy, frustrating and almost impossible amount of things to feel at once and because I’m fatigued it’s even harder to respond, let alone to try and respond nicely.

I often think about what someone without a brain injury would say. I think it would go something like this:

‘Ok, what is my response here? I’m too busy to talk’

‘I need to tell them I’m busy’

‘I do want to talk to them though, just not now… Oh, I can talk to them later when I’m not busy”

After these thoughts the person can come out with: “I can’t talk right now, I’m busy but we can talk later” in a kind, calm and well mannered way. They’ve also managed to find a way to let the person know they do want to talk, compared to someone with a brain injury who will just say or shout “I’m busy!” which can often shut the conversation down or start an argument. Of course in both situations these responses happen subconsciously. It’s just that with a brain injury (especially in a traumatic brain injury) the part of the brain that processes these thoughts is often damaged:

Mood swings and emotional lability are often caused by damage to the part of the brain that controls emotions and behaviour Often there is no specific event that triggers a sudden emotional response. This may be confusing for family members who may think they accidentally did something that upset the injured person.

source: MSKTC

Depending on what part or parts of a person’s brain are injured, the individual may experience significant behavioral and emotional changes. The frontal lobe, for example, helps govern personality and impulsivity. If damaged, there might be no “braking mechanism” for self-control. A person may find he cannot control his anger or aggression. He may also make inappropriate comments to friends or strangers not realizing they are off color.

source: Brainline

After reading this you’re probably thinking ‘How can you stop doing it if you know you’re not doing it?’ the simple answer is: ‘I’m going to try

So far it’s happened a few times. One example:

The tumble dryer has been on and my boyfriend Stephen has called my name from another room. I took a deep breath and responded slowly with “I can’t hear you properly, the tumble dryer is on”, he came into the room and said “That’s a nice way of saying that”. Honestly? I thought he was been sarcastic, my brain just isn’t used to responding under pressure in a “nice way”. I felt proud of myself.

Although, you must know when I’m breathing I’m not thinking of what to say, because I don’t have the ability… I’m breathing to calm myself down.

So when I say ‘I’m going to try‘ I mean ‘I’m going to try and breathe to calm myself down before I speak’

Hopefully you’ll be able to do the same and this blog post has been helpful. It’s a hard life living with a brain injury, but it can be harder if we don’t help ourselves and help others around us understand. Please, if you struggle with this problem too share with your family and friends to make them understand a little bit more about your brain injury (and it will help take some of the weight off yourself!)

Motivational Tattoos: Self Care tips & gifts. Made with love, to brighten up your day!

Visit their website to find out more

You can also download their free Self Care Activities and Tips Menu ~ A Printable Guide & Resource here

As well as the ‘Breathe’ pin badge that I’ve got they also have ‘Calm’, ‘Believe Achieve’ and ‘I am enough’. They are so petite and cute!

All their products made are to raise Mental Health Awareness

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