Holly says she feels like a completely different person than she used to be, and she doesn’t even know who this new person is. Just a year ago, she was a full-time elementary school teacher while working toward her master’s in school administration. She rode her mountain bike on the weekends through the Big Basin Boulder Creek Loop and other South Bay Area trails with her riding group.
After a devastating head-on collision on her way to work a year ago, Holly’s external injuries are finally healed, and she’s settling into her new baseline—or so the doctors say. To Holly, that new baseline represents a completely different person who doesn’t do any of the things that used to make her feel alive.
While surgeries and physical therapy have helped her to walk again, Holly has significant issues with her speech that prevent her from returning to her classroom and the work she loves. Her headaches and memory lapses put graduate classes out of reach, and her weakened legs and unpredictable balance make mountain biking impossible right now. For Holly, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) doesn’t just mean taking the time to heal—it also means giving up a lot of her daily activities and passions and reimagining the life that is possible.
She often feels alone in her pain and fear. She has been suffering from depression for the first time in her life. But she is not alone. A compassionate doctor steered her toward TBI support groups online and even some support groups right near her in the Bay Area. Tapped into this resource, Holly has been able to “come back down to earth for the first time in a year,” as she puts it, and believe that a life might actually be possible with the support and perspective of other survivors of traumatic head injuries.
Traumatic Brain Injury Support Groups Online
Online and in-person support groups offer different advantages and ways of communicating for TBI survivors looking to connect with others who are in the same boat. Both options can help you navigate challenges such as insurance complications, multiple medical specialists, and new and confusing emotional trauma. Traumatic brain injury support groups online offer daily access at virtually any hour of the day. Discussion topics are endless, and you’ll find perspectives from a wide range of participants with diverse experiences from all over the country—perhaps all over the world. So, the sharing of ideas and discoveries is generous and extensive. Here are a couple of great options for networking through moderated TBI social communities online.
A non-profit organization committed to spreading awareness and creating a community around people with TBI, TryMunity is an extensive support group at your fingertips. It was born out of a need for idea sharing, inspiration, and support, after a horrifying car accident put Mike Black in a coma, and his family could not accept the signs to give up. Mike is not the only one to have made incredible progress through the support and opportunities social media and online communities provide. You can get involved in this free network too. Just sign up and check out how many active and intriguing discussions are happening worldwide.
Another helpful online community for TBI survivors is DailyStrength’s Brain Injury Support Group. It’s free to join and made up of members who can relate to each other’s struggles. You can read others’ stories, offer advice and words of encouragement, and share your own story, setbacks, and strides.
Whether the community discussions are about the best brain-boosting foods or the ways that music therapy aids depression and memory loss or anything in between, you’ll likely run across advice and ways of looking at things that you wouldn’t have discovered on your own.
TBI Support Groups Near Me in the San Francisco Bay Area
For Holly, it took a lot of courage to share her traumatic story out loud in front of a group—not just because it meant she was trusting those strangers to listen and understand, but also because speaking it out loud called for a greater degree of acceptance for her condition than she had been able to dig up yet. But that’s exactly what her support group community helped her to find: acceptance. Now, acceptance is leading to feelings of empowerment, hope, and connection—to herself and her new community. Here’s a list of in-person support groups for acquired head injuries in the Bay Area—where you can also network to discover the many great resources and programs available near you.
– Tuesday, 3:00–4:30pm
– 1132 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur, CA 94939
– Facilitator: Carol Howard-Wooten, MFT
– Contact: Sarah@schurigcenter.org
– Phone: (415) 461-6771
– 1st Thursday of the month, 3:30–4:45pm
– 1001 Potrero Ave., San Francisco, CA 94119
– Contact: Carol Blecker
– Phone: (415) 437-3008
– Wednesday, 5:30–7:30pm
– 60 Daggett Dr., San Jose, CA 95134
– Contact: Karen Strasilla
– Email: KStrasilla@SBIcares.org
– Phone: (408) 715-2205
– Tuesday, 5:30–7:00pm
– 710 Fourth St., San Rafael, CA 94903
– Contact: Larry Bencich
– Phone: (415) 459-6245
For more support group opportunities near you, visit the Brain Injury Association of California and browse the areas served. Getting connected with a local group of people going through similar experiences with TBI may help you to turn the corner toward positivity and possibility.
TBI Support Groups Serve a Critical Need for Compassionate Community
As an open and outgoing person, one of Holly’s early challenges following the crash was the immediate loss of her many supportive and close-knit communities. She had been teaching at her school for more than 15 years and had been friends with many of the teachers for that long. She was taking graduate classes and organizing smaller study groups on a weekly basis, and looking forward to her weekly bike rides and extensive Bay Area group of friends for as long as she can remember. This social lapse helped bring on symptoms of depression, amidst her other immediate TBI challenges, and it also left her struggling to understand her own identity.
Since she has been involved in a local support group that meets weekly and another TBI support group online that allows her to connect with individuals nationwide at any time of the day, she has begun to feel more grounded. She has even started to feel more like herself for the first time in a long time. “I’ve missed me,” she explained, with tears in her eyes.
Even though right now, she can’t do a lot of the things she once loved and a piece of her heart is broken over it, she says that it’s like she went back in time to a version of herself that was still trying to discover what she loves and how she wants to spend her time. She gets to try that phase of life again, and she gets to do so with an extensive network of other TBI survivors who are all facing difficult but inspiring journeys of possibilities.
If you or a loved one is facing the challenges of a traumatic brain injury, don’t let the many available resources slip past you. Get in touch with Institute on Aging today to discover how support groups, compassionate services, and other programs can help to set you up for an empowering and fulfilling journey ahead.