7 Ways to Help TBI Victims Get Over Guilt and Shame

Posted By: Tony Baratta | June 26th, 2020


I’m Tony Baratta. Today, I’d like to talk about how someone affected by brain injury might get over the sense of guilt and shame that they feel.

Our brains are what make us who we are. When someone suffers an injury to their brain, that person becomes literally a different person, and that person may look the same to everyone else and even act the same for a brief period of time, but the TBI victim feels that he has changed.

Shame and guilt

He is embarrassed by the fact that he can’t keep up with normal conversations or the plot of his favorite Netflix series. He feels great shame that he can’t do the job he did before. He feels guilty that he can’t remember the name of a good friend. Here are seven things I have seen my clients who have a traumatic brain injury do to get over the sense of shame and guilt that they feel.

1) Don’t keep your feelings to yourself

Don’t keep your feelings to yourself. Your family and your friends are your best advocates and protectors. It is important that they know you are struggling. These people love you and care about you and they will understand what you are going through.

2) Be proud of the work you do

Like an injured athlete, be proud of the work that you’re putting in your therapy to get better. Keep a log of the things that you are doing in therapy. Keep a log and a record of the progress that you’re making week by week. Talk to others about what you are doing and relish in the small successes that you are having in your therapy.

3) Keep a diary

Keep a diary. Just the act of acknowledging in writing what you are going through is a great way to get out your frustrations and your fears. And as you progressively improve, it will be a documentation of the successes you’ve had over time to get better and the hard work that you’ve done to get there.

4) Cherish the beautiful things

Cherish the beautiful things in your world that you are still able to fully enjoy. Don’t dwell on what is lost. Instead, enjoy what you still have–the sunrise, the smell and taste of good food, the touch of someone that you love, the song of a bird. This will help you maintain the positive attitude you need to get better.

5) Laugh and see the humor

Laugh, and try to see the humor in your new shortcomings. Try to make a joke about them. Others will feel less worried about hurting your feelings if you show that you have a good sense of humor about your new challenges.

6) Get out there

Get out there. Don’t hide inside the house. Take walks, and exercise. Talk to strangers. Be open and friendly. This will help you hold at bay the demons lurking to snatch you into the bowels of miserable loneliness.

7) Try to help others

Try to help others. There’s always someone who is worse off than you are. Someone who needs your help. Someone who can learn from your experiences. This will allow you to know that your life continues to have value. I hope this has been helpful.

About the Author

Anthony J. Baratta (Tony) is a trial attorney. He has tried more than 50 cases to Juries in State and Federal Courts and has litigated thousands of personal injury and medical malpractice cases in his 30-year career. Tony is the founding partner of Baratta, Russell, & Baratta and an active board member of the Pennsylvania Brain Injury Association (BPIA). Tony is also on the board for the Philadelphia VIP and performs pro bono work for the Laurel House, a non-profit for victims of domestic abuse. In addition, Tony is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum for trial attorneys, voted one of Philadelphia’s Super Lawyers for the past 14 years, and a 2018 recipient of the First Judicial District Pro Bono Award for the Civil Trial Division.

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