Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Some situation are difficult to put into perspective because of our structured way of thinking and because of the military experiences. While in the service, as leaders we fix or raise a flag when we see wrong things or misconducts. Outside the military, it is not as such. Most times, we cannot engage on situations and we cannot correct people the way we used to do in the military. Maybe that sense of feeling impotent can bring anger.
After a Traumatic Brain Injury, the management of emotions becomes harder. Abstract thinking may become a problem. I am a witness to it. We may take things the wrong way, we may take it with meanings that were never intended. This may result in a reaction that is out of line or totally incoherent with the situation at hand. Remember, always try to stop, think and gain awareness on what is happening. In my opinion, being aware of our surrounding and our emotions is fundamental in order to control our reactions.
Bottom line is: we are going go get angry, and probably more often than somebody that has not been in a combat situation. Combat experiences may exacerbate emotions. Whatever the situation try to apply common sense. The ultimate goal should be to manage our feelings and to stay out of trouble. Remember, our behavior and reactions will affect our relationships and our well being.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
For many years all my days had a mission, which involved being around many people and involved in things that were impactful to the Army's mission. I do not have that anymore. I have to create my own daily mission, and motivate myself to be engage in life tasks. I have asked to fellow Veterans (OIF, OEF and Vietnam) about the feeling of loneliness. It has been common to hear amongst them that they have dealt with loneliness since the separation from the military.
It has been my personal experience that the feeling of loneliness turns into anger. Well... I call it anger, maybe it's something else. It is nothing related to violent behaviors, it feels more like an extreme feeling of being overwhelmed and being stuck at the same time.
Maybe Veterans that read this can relate to these feelings.
What has helped me deal and manage this feelings?
1. My faith in God.
2. I talk about it with my wife and with counselors.
3. Avoiding isolation.
4. Go out to a store, to dinner or to watch a movie (even when don't want to)
I have found very helpful to have situational awareness, which is knowing what's going on inside me. It is important to recognize triggers that if not avoided can exhacerbate the feelings. Reaching a point of being saturated with feelings of loneliness can turn into sadness, or even worse, can turn into depression. In my opinion, the key to success in surviving these feelings is to be watchful of not becoming isolated or alienated from society and from our support network. It might feel that these feelings overtake us but, I am a witness that there is light at the end of the tunnel. There will be good days and not-so-good days. The good days will always happen more often than not.
Talk about it. We are not alone!
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
- Are we doing enough?
- Is this a result of measures put in place to merely check the block?
- Why are Veterans not speaking up?
- If they speak up, are they being heard?
I was medically retired from the US Army last September 2012. After spending many years in the military, it is shocking and a dramatic change to be in this status. While in the Service, I was always around Soldiers and I was part of a mission that was bigger than myself. Now, retired, my days cannot be compared to those spent in the Army. Now, life forces me to embark in the great quest for meaning, purpose, motivations, and drive.
- Does it sounds like isolation, lack of purpose and motivation can be common issues amongst Veterans?
- Does the lack of purpose, meaning, motivation and drive, could result in self-destructive behaviors?
Based on my own personal experience, I want to advice other Veterans to try to engage in tasks that will be meaningful and will give some level of gratification. For example, in days I feel sad and isolated I read, write or do something meaningful in the house that will be noticed by my wife. The simple fact that she notices it, gives me gratification. Reading or writing gives me the satisfaction of feeling of having accomplished something at the end of the day. The constant engagement in different things gives purpose to my day. I also try to engage in some kind of physical activity or exercise on a daily basis. I understand that engagement can be very difficult after a traumatic brain injury. It is difficult but not impossible.
As Veterans, we need to be vigilant for those behaviors that if rooted can potentially become problematic. Finding purpose, motivation and meaning is unique to each individual. All can be found and attained. Maintaining discipline and a neat personal appearance have been very helpful in the upkeep of my feelings and emotions. Even though I am not in the Army anymore, I still keep and present myself with a Soldier-like attitude and appearance.
Things I have found instrumental to avoid negative emotions are:
- Involvement with the church and God
- Speaking to other Veterans
- Speaking to other people in general
- Attending school
- Physical activities/ Exercise
- God cares; no problem is too big for him.
- Your family loves you; the pain inflicted on them by a suicide is gigantic.
- Many people out there treasure and value your Service; they would love the opportunity to help.
- Never be ashamed for sharing and talking about things that are bothering you; getting things off your chest will be a relief.
- There is always HOPE.
- It will get better.
- We care for you; and we are thankful for your Service.
Thank you for serving!
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Carolina Reyes invites El Paso Military Spouse, Roxana Delgado, to attend State of the Union | U.S. Representative Silvestre Reyes
Monday, October 31, 2011
I have heard that many of the behavioral issues after a TBI are due to a frontal lobe injury. http://neuroskills.com defines the function of the frontal lobe as: The frontal lobes are considered our emotional control center and home to our personality.
A question comes to mind: How many PTSD are frontal lobe injuries? Or, how many frontal lobe injuries are taken as PTSD?
Friday, September 16, 2011
I have learned to go around my impairments in a way that I do not focus on them. There are some areas that are what makes us functional, those I do face with courage. At the end we want to achieve complete independence, with or without impairments.
So, how to feel useful and productive?
The answer lies within our own selves. What works for me is not going to work for everybody, but it can give you a general idea on how to to avoid such feelings. I always try to focus on the things I can do well, and set a goal on a daily basis. This set goal is one that can be achieved, is realistic and can be measured once completed.
I like to write and journal. Let's say today my goal was to write this post. Since I have been doing it for a while it has become something that does not take that much effort. As soon as I finish writing it I will be able to see that I achieved what I had planned. As for realistic, my goal was to write a blog post, I did not set myself the goal of writing a book or an essay today. In no way that can be a realistic goal, it is not likely that I will be able to complete that goal in one morning or one day. It do not matter how many road blocks or struggles I find on my road today, at least I can say that I accomplish one task and one goal.
In my opinion feeling productive has a lot to do with what we accomplish in a day. Accepting our limitations is a crucial part of overcoming feelings of uselessness. We have to set those goals that we know we can achieve. Setting goals that are too hard or close to impossible will bring those feelings we do not like and we want to avoid.
So, how do I succeed at accomplishing what others require me to do? My life has become about setting goals and accomplishing them. I have created a task list that goes by days and deadlines. Every morning I look at the tasks for the day. As I accomplish any given task I cross out the task as completed. My goal every day is to clear the tasks that I have on my list. At the end of the day I have a great feeling when I see my list being cleared. When I am not able to clear it, I still feel good because when I look back I can say that I accomplish many things in the day.
Every Traumatic Brain Injury is different, I know that compensating is different for all. I hope that my experiences and strategies can be helpful in achieving success.
No matter how your day goes, always remember that "IT WILL GET BETTER".
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Hi all. This afternoon Roxana and I had the opportunity to address the women's basketball team at the University of Texas at El Paso. Needless to say it was a very gratifying experience. We shared the floor with a person that survived a car accident caused by a drunk driver. Him along with his wife and two children shared their survival experience with the team. The audience as well as Roxana and I were deeply moved by their story.
I spoke about my injury as well as coping skills, hope, and motivation. Also during the speech we addressed how life can change in the split of a second. The audience was you and energetic. I was humbled to see how my words had caught their attention.
As their season approaches we were ask to talk to them to help the come into focus and motivation for the upcoming games.
They could clearly understood that besides the blessing of being able to play their sport, there are opportunities that present in our lives that should not be taken for granted. I included in my speech my perspective of a team and leadership. I told them that the principles applied in the military for the execution of missions could be applied to the game of basketball. In order to be successful they needed to understand that they have to know each member of the team. They need to be able to know what the other is thinking when no words are spoken. I addressed that regardless of winning or loosing they always needed to play the best game possible. Life is not easy as the games are not going to be easy. But they had to play their best game every time.
At the end they seemed motivated and I think the goal of the event was met. Roxana mentioned something that stuck on them as well as on me. She said "The opportunities of today will define your future".
They named us honorary coaches of the team. I am honored and humbled by the opportunity.
Good luck to the Miners during this season. Go Miners!
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Monday, June 13, 2011
well after his head injury, which is the reason why I am writing this
today. The things I am about to mention are based on my personal
experience. I am not a medical professional but I can tell you that I
know first hand what a brain injury is.
Immediately after I sustained a brain injury I had sleep issues. The
issue that stood out the most was that I could not sleep enough. I
went from being a person that could sleep a few hours, waking up full
of energy to a person that could not get enough sleep. That was one
of the first signs that those around me noticed. When it was time to
wake up, the alarm would be going off for hours and I could not hear
it. I would sleep twelve plus hours. This is an issue is an ongoing
today but I have disciplined myself to avoid any oversleeping.
I have heard from other TBI survivors that their problem is the
opposite. They cannot sleep. This has happened to me but the most
common for me is not being able to wake up in the morning.
Sleep is something that more than a need it is a process. For this
process to happen optimally we have to understand that we have to
control and adjust our environment. I know that many have TV sets in
the bedroom. This is not recommended but at the same time it is
something that many of us are extremely used to. The question now is:
what are you watching prior to sleeping? Are you watching Law and
Order? Are you watching a news channels? Watching programs as such
affect the amount of time I need to fall asleep. Many of us are
dependent of the TV, one thing that has worked for me is to watch
documentaries. Not the type that show the gangs or people fighting in
prison. I watch the type of documentaries that involve nature,
especially those that involve the ocean. This type of programs make me
feel some kind of relaxation. Last week I watched Oceans, a
documentary produced by Disney. I found this one very soothing. It
got me so relaxed that I even fell asleep watching it.
Other things Roxana and I do is that we keep our bedroom very clean
and organized. In order for me to have a pleasant sleep, I need the
environment to be peaceful. I honestly don't believe that having a
mess can contribute or help for a good night sleep.
Once we are ready to go to sleep, we turn on a water fountain and the
recording of a thunderstorm. I grew up in a place that thunderstorm
were almost a daily event. The recording I have sounds exactly like
the TStorms back at home. We leave the fountain and the TStorm
recording run all night long. With that I rarely wake up in the
middle of the night.
I have met other people that use things like guided imagery or
meditation before going to sleep. According to them it works greatly.
If you are having sleep problems this can be another tool to
I have heard also, that avoiding looking at the clock while trying to
sleep is helpful. So, I recommend to put the clock in a way you can't
see it. I use my phone as a clock at night. When is time to sleep I
flip it upside down.
In my opinion, good sleep hygiene does not involve only the act of
sleeping but is a process that includes the person and the
environment. A neat environment can contribute to feeling at ease.
Only you know what bothers you and what might help. Others can only
Remember, that after a brain injury we have to adjust the environment
to maintain our independence. The same goes to sleep. We have to make
adjustments to succeed at having a good night sleep. Keep trying and
you will see that you will succeed.
IT WILL GET BETTER