Disinhibition. Well look at that, Microsoft Word doesn’t even think it’s a word either. I didn’t even know that was a real word until it was engulfing my life. This is just a fancy-pants way of saying that we have no filter and for everyone around us, this is very obvious. In my case, this has been obvious for the last nine years.
This is one of the most common side effects of the injured brain and especially if it’s frontal lobe damage. As I’ve mentioned before on multiple occasions, the brain is like a filter so with a damaged brain you have a damaged filter. When things enter a healthy brain, we can pick and choose the information that enters it and chuck out the rest that is not needed. When multiple things enter an injured brain through our five senses, we can get bombarded with information causing what feels like your brain is getting flooded, commonly called brain flooding.
This is called sensory overload and I’ve already covered this in a previous post, so no need to dwell on the past as they say. So I’ve covered what’s going in but this week is about what’s coming out. Not having the ability to inhibit our thoughts is both a blessing and a curse.
Look, it’s a fact that I don’t know how to say things right. I’m going to first of all, tell you how the curse of my words affects my life, and then after I will tell you how it is that, that same emotion provides an honest blessing to a situation.
The Curse: So this is a story going back to the early days but it’s always good for a laugh. Not for a laugh at the words I chose to present but a laugh at how ‘Scott has no filter’. So a year post-accident, I was chatting to some friends about weight loss. I ‘think’ I was chatting to them but I could have honestly been just standing there just ready to pounce with my offensive ammunition I had stocked piled up inside my injured brain.
So the conversation, at one point, started going down exercise path. Being a relatively fit guy pre-accident, minus the whole smoking part of my unhealthy lifestyle choices, I thought that I had the perfect introduction-piece in my verbal presentation, “Have you guys ever thought about going on the biggest loser?”… WTF? BOOM, those little words of wisdom became offensive words of intrusion. If this was to come out of a healthy brain, it would most likely be followed with, “Oh wow, that DID NOT come out the right way. What I meant was blah, blah, blah”. But truth be told, I didn’t even realize I had said anything wrong. I knew what it was that I meant, which was at absolutely no disrespect, and I believed that this was exactly how it sounded.
This was many moons ago and I can’t remember what it was that I even meant but I know that I did not mean to offend anyone. It was only a couple of nights ago that I put my foot in it with my girlfriend when I said something that came out completely wrong. Nine years on and this is still a battle that I’m fighting super hard to stay on top of. The only difference is that now I can actually realize when things don’t come out right… sometimes… so I am more likely to follow up with an apology. Remember that with an injured brain, awareness is the key. As I’ve mentioned many times before, if we are aware of what needs to change, we can then put processes into place to fix it.
From birth, as we all get older, we are taught by the elderly beings in our lives what to say and what not to say. Have you ever noticed that a kid will be the most brutally honest person to tell you what you really look like in that dress? This is because they haven’t learnt the ropes just yet. I’m, pretty sure that a clip around the ears will soon teach them a lesson and that dress, all of a sudden, “Looks great but the other one looks much better”.
If you’re fighting an injured brain, which is much like a child’s brain, and you can’t seem to get on top of this little problem, a good idea for you to do is to write down the situations when they happen. Listen to the feedback you are given and in some cases, if you’re unsure, ask for feedback directly related to your choice of words. If this is not visible to you, I’m sure there will be people around you that will let you know how far your foot sunk in. Be open to advice. We are trying to head towards being more aware and even though you may not realize this instantly, writing it down on paper is a great idea. This will do two things: A) Reinforce the verbal misconduct and B) Give you a reminder of what it was that went wrong.
Although this seems like a curse, it can, in some instances, be a blessing. I have known about the filtering problem for quite some time and I have always imagined it to be such a bad unwanted thing in my life and it was only recently that I heard someone say me that they rather like it. They like it because of the honesty that comes with it. I guess this is a good thing but I’d much rather be able to tell her that dress makes her look rather fat, in a much kinder, caring manner.
Nine years on and I’m still learning how to live with my injured brain each and every day. This is just one of the demons that’s standing in front of one of the walls that I must climb over. These are the walls that I face each and every day. It’s hard and I’m often learning the hard way but it’s a fight that I must keep fighting. Like a puppy, an injured brain isn’t just for Christmas, it’s for life.
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