Everyone has their demons; ghosts that haunt us because of something that has or hasn’t happened in our past.
For those of us with brain injuries, our collection of demons is varied and extremely powerful. We feel overwhelmed when we face those things that haunt us: peoples’ comments, the can’t do’s, the used to be able to’s, the relationship issues, the work issues.
They are popping up all the time.
Many of us feel as though our demons are not like anyone else’s and we put them on pedestal; these demons are somehow special because they result from a brain injury. When we do this we are giving them an importance they don’t deserve and we make them even more powerful.
I don’t think that’s something we want to be doing.
Our goal should be to find ways to make our demons less powerful so they have less of an impact on our lives. The only way we are going to do that is look at them for what they really are and find a way to accept them so we can start to get our personal power back.
The first thing to do is accept that are demons are in our heads.
Recently I attended my 40th college reunion, which brought back a lot of bad stuff.
College, for me, was the scene of the crime; my brain injury was after sophomore year and when I returned to school I was slapped in the face by my new reality. Leaving the therapeutic bubble of the rehabilitation hospital and my parent’s house; I went back to the world I had lived in before my month-long coma.
Attending that 40th reunion was like jumping back into a fire that still burned hot.
The first night of “Reunion weekend,” there was some sort of reception. While everyone else spent their time reminiscing about those “good old college days,” all I could think about was fear, depression, opportunities lost, and relationships shattered.
What I didn’t understand then was that my demons were taking over, trying to make me think nothing had changed since then; telling me that everyone still saw me as a slurring, stuttering and limping shadow of what I used to be.
I gave in and let those demons control me. Instead of trying to rise above them, I held them close and believed them. I treated them almost as though they had my best interests at heart. By doing that I give them power, strength and validity.
They affected me so much that I left shortly after I arrived that first night, convinced that nothing had changed. I let me demons run my life by convincing me I would never get past them and be able to live my life freely.
Who and What to Blame
I left that first night of my reunion and I thought about what had just happened. The reality was this: no one had done anything bad to me. No one had been anything but cordial and accepting. I only had myself to blame for letting my demons get the better of me, and once I finally understood this, my demons lost their power.
Those demons controlled me by allowing me to feel wronged by others; everything was someone else’s fault. In some crazy way we gain strength from blaming others because that makes us feel self-righteous and right, but blaming something or someone for our troubles is just an easy way out. We let ourselves off the hook by avoiding taking personal responsibility.
Yes, I was in control…not my demons. I had the power.
I saw that I needed to go back the next day so I could stomp on my demons and get rid of them once and for all.
I am so glad I made that I choice to go back and live my life without pointing fingers or letting myself feel those old feelings of inferiority. Approaching the present from a position of power freed me, but I couldn’t have done it if I hadn’t realized some important things about my demons and about demons in general.
I realized our demons live in our heads and are created by us. If we can see them for what they really are, they will be destroyed.
We need to put our ourselves in situations where we face our demons. That means we all need the courage to put ourselves on the line so we can prove to ourselves that our demons are just thoughts based on the past. This isn’t easy. We are not always emotionally ready. We are not always properly prepared. We will not always be successful.
But we carry on.
Even if we fail at what we are trying to accomplish in that moment, we need to remember that is but one moment; it is just a step we are taking. We need to keep on so we can put our demons in their proper place, looking at them in their proper perspective, knowing that the more we face them, the easier it gets and the closer we get to defeating them.
So make yourself larger than life. Face your demons once, and then face them again if you have to. You will be triumphant.
Thanks for reading, Jeff
Deanna, Stane says
I have always been onery and driven. I refuse to give in to TBI symptoms. Its hard at times but I never give up. God has kept me here for a purpose I’m not quite sure of yet but always keeping my faith and staying strong
KEITH PIKE says
thanks Jeff for helping me to identify my demons
Another remarkable read with so much help and familiarity! Thank you Jeff!!
Jyoti Thomas says
thanks for this article Jeff I really agree that the demons are in our head and are just thoughts, finding a way to not believe them and take back our power is a huge help in recovery. I’ve always thought that our mind should serve us in a good way. we can be the master of it rather than it being the master of us, dragging us all over the place with painful thinking. thanks again.
Lisa Nappi says
Hey Jeff what you said is so so true you think you’re doing fantastic and then something comes up and throws your right off and those demons come flooding out but reading what you said definitely helps to put things in perspective. I hope you’re doing well if I don’t see why the meeting Possibly I’ll see you at the conference in October your friend Lisa
Stephanie Harrell says
Thank you Jeff ! Thanks for reminding me to stay strong. This really was the note I needed to read at the place I am in life! I guess that my demons were beginning to take up too much space inside my head. 23 years post TBI, sometimes I forget how strong I really am 😊