are feeling. In the same way an actual vacation can renew and refresh an individual, this sort of mental vacation can also prepare individuals for handling upcoming issues. Denial can be a problem, however, if the family member has unrealistic expectations about recovery and/or interferes with the medical team.
As a family member, you may experience tremendous feelings of guilt, and may either blame yourself or others for allowing the patient to do something that contributed to her injury. A certain amount of guilt is normal, but extreme guilt and/or blaming others can be damaging. Families need to keep things in perspective: don’t dwell on the past but try to focus on the present.
There are things you can do to deal with your feelings appropriately. Instead of taking your anger out on yourself or someone else, utilize the many stress-reducing strategies as described later in this chapter.
What to Expect During the Recovery Process
“I was unable to drive for several years. After finally getting my license reinstated, my difficulties with direction and short-term memory made driving alone extremely difficult and frightening. - D. S., Brain-injury Survivor ”
From the patient
The patient is understandably going through a lot, both physically and emotionally. Each injury is different and each patient is different. The patient can be a trooper and roll with the punches, or she can be devastated. There may be times when the patient is in denial, is depressed, and is not motivated to try to recover. There may be other times when the patient is so anxious to get better that she will put in all of her effort to attain the goal of recovery. There may be times when the patient needs a shoulder to cry on, a coach to push her to recover, or merely to be left alone. Family and caregivers may at times serve as emotional “punching bags” for the patient. In fact, the patient may feel so loved and reassured by certain family members that she feels safe enough to express feelings this way. On the other hand, many patients will be surprisingly cheerful.