Today he wants to share with you his personal experience of dating after receiving a traumatic brain injury, including his top tips for how to successfully settle down with the right person.
In 2015, I was hit by a car and I received a severe traumatic brain injury. A brain injury that left me without the ability to remember what I had done the day prior, constant fatigue, and the need to sleep more than usual. I have openly written and shared my journey to recovery since the incident on Jumbled Brain’s blog… From my struggles to graduating from college while dealing with the detrimental effects of my brain injury to struggling to work a full-time job (but finding a great career that worked with my TBI!) to coping with the everyday changes, my brain injury has had on my life.
Now, the next strenuous chapter I face while living with a brain injury is…dating (honestly, dating without a brain injury was already hard enough!) Dating with a brain injury opens up a slew of other obstacles that make it even more arduous. In this article, I want to spread how I learned to cope with the new obstacles my brain injury has had on my dating life.
The Importance of Communication
My doctor once told me a brain injury is only invisible to the outside world if I did not tell people about my head injury. What he meant by that other people will not know I suffer some negative effects from an unseen disability, unless I inform them of it. It can definitely be a tough conversation to have. At first, I struggled with telling people about my brain injury because I was ashamed and I wanted nothing more than to be normal. As time passed, I’ve come to terms with my head injury.
I made it a point to tell everyone who I dated after the car accident about my brain injury. I want to let my partner know what they were getting into before they started to date me. That I do have a lingering invisible disability that would impact the relationship. I’ve had some partners that said it was not a big deal until they had to deal with some of the issues I faced when dealing with a brain injury.
I have to let them know that I can be quite forgetful and I get horrific TBI exhaustions that make me take an enormous amount of naps throughout a day. Sometimes I can’t drive for long hours or stay out too late because my body would get too fatigued and I would need to sleep.
After I communicated with my partner, they would understand that I needed a nap whenever I got brain fog.
Being honest with my partner about some of the hurdles I face and that the effects it would have on the relationship have been extremely helpful. Telling my partner ahead of time some situations where the effects of my brain injury would come into play has helped my partner understand me better.
Dealing With the Dreaded Fatigue and Brain Fog
Fatigue is the absolute biggest issue I face. Hands down it is the worst part of my brain injury. My partner would get mad at me when I would fall asleep watching a movie in every theater date we had or when I would say I could not stay out any longer because I was getting some serious brain fog. Of course, I want to spend time or being out late nights with my partner…but it is just harder with a brain injury. I would get pretty sad when I had to tell my partner that I can’t stay out late on some date nights because I was too tired.
The best solution for me was to plan ahead of time. I’m a freelance writer so I would write in the mornings and take my naps throughout the day if I had a big date that night or an outing. I would also pack some bottles of black teas to keep with me in case I needed to stay awake.
I would also make sure to use ride-sharing applications on some night outs because I know I’d be too exhausted to drive later.
I can’t stress it enough that preparation is key when you are dating with a brain injury.
Being Confident in Myself
Right after I received the brain injury, I had a lot of confidence issues. I used to pride myself on being a pretty academic and intelligent guy, but when I could not even remember what I did the day prior and I had difficulty forming cogent thoughts…I started to second guess that belief.
Thoughts of “who would date somebody with a TBI” started to pop into my head…
I felt like damaged goods.
–and my own thoughts and how I felt about myself flowed out into my dating life. People around me can sense my lack of confidence whenever I interacted with them.
If I didn’t even want to date myself, who would want to date me…
So, the first step was rebuilding some confidence in myself. I started to routinely hit the gym, cleaned up my diet and really worked on reframing how I thought about my brain injury. I realized that if someone didn’t completely accept me for who I was, a guy with a brain injury, why would I want to date that person? I had to learn how to be loved for who I was and accept all parts of me. If a girl was not interested in dating me because of my disability, then it was her loss! With this mindset, I started to be more confident with myself in my dating life.
Here’s to Dating With A Brain Injury
If you have a brain injury and you are struggling with dating, hang in there. Hopefully, my tips can make it a little bit easier to dating someone when you have a brain injury. Being honest with your partner, being prepared for dates and reframing how you think about your brain injury can go a long way.
I wish you the best of luck on your dating journey and I hope you stay safe!