It is you know - it is okay to be different.

It is Thanksgiving, and for many people that brings great joy and happiness when gathering together with friends and family.  Having time to cook all day, watch football, eat, play and be merry is what many families get to do today.

For families that live with someone with a brain injury, any holiday can be a recipe for disaster - any day that breaks the routine of life that is put together purposely to ensure structure and normalcy can cause panic and worry. Days like today can cause extreme stress for caregivers that have to decide if trying to have a regular holiday like very one else is worth the stress - why have a day that could erupt into a meltdown.

Sometimes people just need to hear that it is okay - okay to be different from everyone else.  Knowing that a day filled with noise, changes in routine, delayed meals, and too any people could be a disaster is a GOOD thing.  It means that you understand that there are limits to tolerance of things, and that you can try to plan around those triggers to have a successful holiday.

  1. It is okay to have a meal at the time you would normally eat - don't feel pressured to change the time of eating if it will cause your loved one to feel distressed.
  2. If lots of people and noise cause brain fatigue, reduce the number of people at your meal, or keep the time together short.  Balancing time spent together vs. noise of people is important - if needed, break up time hanging out in the kitchen with some quiet in another room.
  3. Don't feel that you have to accept every invitation to visit.  Going from place to place to visit multiple people in one day is hard on anyone.  If you have multiple invitations for Thanksgiving meals, let everyone know that it might be best to limit dinner to just one place.
  4. Sometimes plans will change at the last minute - headaches, brain fatigue, irritability or exhaustion can happen even before the day begins.  When this happens, don't be afraid to change the plans for the day. Things happen, and rather than try to push through the day and make things worse, trying again tomorrow may be a better choice.
  5. Always feel free to say no - no to another 30 minutes, no to another visit, no to more people wanting to come over. Knowing where to set limits can create enough stability to ensure that the day stays fun for everyone.

Do not be afraid to protect the structure that is in place to make days successful and fun.  The goal of Thanksgiving is to "give thanks", not create a day of anger and irritability that ends with a ruined meal and sadness. Setting boundaries, planning ahead, and being different may all help in getting to the end of this day, and being THANKFUL for another day together as a family.

Veterans are the reason we have the freedoms that we do.

They fought our battles, they waged war in places most of us don't want to visit.

They gave their lives so that we can feel safe and secure, and have liberties that many others do not.

Today we honor those brave men and women - today we publicly recognize their deeds and heroism.

Many of our veterans return home different than they left - the battle scars, the traumatic images, the injuries - they all change a person, and for some, the change is so significant that they feel lost as they return home. Not all injuries are visible, and for some, the invisible injuries are the ones that hurt the most.

Our Veterans may also return home with brain injuries. Whether a direct hit to the head, injury with multiple traumas, or a blast injury, individuals returning to the States with these injuries face the same struggles as those facing a brain injury here, with the added components of battle experience layered on top.

Veterans need the support of their families, their communities, and their medical teams to ensure a safe and healthy return home.  The goal is to always return home to their previous life and work, but with a brain injury, that may not always be possible. Ensuring that the pathways and support systems that assist with the return of our Veterans into the mainstream of life remain open and clear should be a focus of all of us - for us to remain a strong and free country, we need people that are willing to fight those battles for us, and that they can trust that they will be cared for when they return home.

Many thanks to all of the Veterans that are in my life, and special thanks to those Veterans that returned home, only to fight the war on our streets as they become law enforcement officers in their home communities.

God Bless you all.


Truly this question is not for all of you, but sent to me from many of you.

I am here, but not HERE.

I am being focused, but differently.

I am present, but absent.

But I am okay, and thank you for asking.

I have followed the paths of many "life-stress" bloggers such as myself.  People that had no plan to be online, writing about their lives, their pain, their worries or their fears.  People that end up pushed to the front of the line for whatever trauma may have hit them, and at the front of that line, they begin to speak.

Some speak to ask for help, while others speak to communicate.  Others speak out of loneliness and out of fear.  I found myself speaking to inform, and that information posting led me to the path of sharing.  I believe that my sharing saved my soul from infinite pain; the support and kind words gave me what I needed to wake up each morning and get on with what I had to do.

Like with everything else, life does go on. And eventually the bloggers may find themselves over it -  the usefulness of the blogging fades away, and the posts begin to space out, longer and longer time between each one, until the blog fades away.

I haven't faded away, but I did fade.

Too many things happened in too short a time, and even I, the one who thinks they can handle anything, couldn't handle it. Too much for me, too much for anyone.

I am here, and I am back.  I will be blogging more about brain injury, our life and stories, and where the world is going with individuals living within this new life. I have more speaking engagements lines up, I am open for meetings and appointments, and I look forward to hearing from all of you.

Thank you for your patience and your worry. Una Stamus