TBI: Losing Those Filters

Photo by Jon Sailer on Unsplash


Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a significant landmark in my life. I survive in a post-TBI world. Pre-TBI, I was in excellent shape, full of confidence, and assertive. No mountain was too high to climb or cross. My filters cut through the noise to get what I desired.

Still, fatigue and stress had ways of triggering raw emotions that would overrun my filters.

Yesterday, I had a typical new day. I was unaware of the time. It was difficult to describe, but I got confused about the time. One moment it was the morning, and the next it was the night, and I couldn’t remember the day. That’s not unusual, I often don’t know the day of the week, and that predates COVID.

At 3:00 pm, my eye appointment in Boston was scheduled. Arranged an Uber pick up for 2:45 pm. I didn’t realize the problem until I was on my way. The driver was friendly and inquired. He said it was 2:55, and my appointment was 3:00. It wasn’t until he mentioned the time of arrival that it clicked. Honestly, I was confused about how it happened until the driver said I scheduled the pickup for 2:45-2:55. It amazed me that I didn’t pick up the mistake. Then I almost started to panic. I had to talk me through it.

Fortunately, the doctor’s office accommodated me as he was running behind. So it worked out in the end.

Initially, the new me—post-TBI—had no filters. Whatever was on my mind, I said. Now, I have a diagnosis and understand the beast; my filters are more reflexive. They are not deliberately crafted or intentional to achieve a purpose. They are years of experience triggered responses that produce desired outcomes. This kind of innate response is sometimes called intuition.

I’ve learned to avoid stressful situations instead of feeling the suppressed rage of stress. When I am frustrated, rage fills my head. It’s the kind that feels like my head will explode. In those moments, phone calls and problematic letters are put aside until later; unfortunately, they are often quickly forgotten.

Avoidance is okay for now, but it creates problems later. I need strategies to manage stress or obstacles without having a stroke.
I need reminders. I even need reminders for the reminders. And reminders for the reminder’s reminders.

My apartment is a mess, lacking organization. I’ve learned to stop beating myself up and accept me and my reminders.

Yeah, I often doubt my actions or response or lack of response. But I am listening to my body. Writing is undoubtedly a lifeline.


Author: Angela Grant

Angela Grant is a medical doctor. For 22 years, she practiced emergency medicine and internal medicine. She studied for one year at Harvard T. H Chan School Of Public Health. She writes about culture, race, and health.

5 thoughts on “TBI: Losing Those Filters

  1. Hello Angela. You have done so much to manage your condition, and I am positive you will find ways to manage future issues. You seem to have the support network and good doctors that are willing to understand and help. Best wishes. Hugs

  2. Wow, thank you for sharing this! And your experience in Ma. This is totally relatable as I have also discovered the before and after struggles due to TBI- something I struggle to accept, still. This is comforting to read and relate to. Thank you, again!

  3. I’m glad you’ve been doing your best to manage everything even in your post-TBI life. I know the feeling about bottling up a ton of anger and suppressing it. It’s great how you’ve been doing what you can to recover and writing about these experiences.

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