Helping Yourself

In the stress of taking care of your child and others in the family, it is easy to overlook taking care of yourself. Counseling and support groups are opportunities to unload, share your concerns, express your fears, ask questions, and learn from others. Having the objective ear of a therapist or counselor can help you sort through your feelings, release pent-up emotions, and think through how your child's injury has affected you and your family. The danger of keeping feelings inside is that they come out sooner or later—and not always in a productive way. Whether a counselor is a social worker, psychologist, minister, rabbi, or psychiatrist—each can bring an objective point of view to help you cope with the changes in your family and your child.

Support groups are one way families can meet others with similar experiences. The informality of support groups makes it easy to share information. Often family members have a unique understanding of the challenges you face because they have lived through the same challenges. Support groups usually include families at many different stages in their children's recoveries, which can give you a glimpse into the future.

Summary

Your child and family are not exactly the same as before the injury. Not everyone will understand the changes that you are going through. Your methods of coping and adjusting to changes in your child's and family's behaviors will develop with time. Some things will work; others will not. There will be days when nothing makes sense to you. There will be days when the rewards are great and the hard work pays off. Each family, and each person within the family, must find their own way in their own time.

Suggestions experienced families offer include:

  1. Find parents with similar experiences through the hospital, rehabilitation program, school, the Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire, and other community agencies for children with disabilities.
  2. Talk about your doubts and fears with someone you trust.
  3. Consider counseling with a psychologist experienced with brain injury.
  4. Join a support group through the Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire.
  5. Continue to learn about brain injury by reading and attending conferences. The Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire puts on a conference every spring that has topics appropriate for rehabilitation professionals, school personnel, and families.
  6. Build a network of community professionals experienced in brain injury among children.

Finding the balance in your life again takes time and patience. Remember to take time for yourself. Be patient with your child, yourself, and others around you.