(Editor’s note: Writer Isaac Peterson takes on superheroes in his latest super-powered essay. Prepare to be inspired and give a chuckle to this superhero missive, really quite like no other. By the way, Isaac is one of my personal superheroes! Thank you, Isaac for all your wonderful writing! –KT).
Are you faster than a speeding bullet?
Can you leap tall buildings in a single bound?
Bend steel with your bare hands?
If so, your name is probably Superman.
If not, and you have a traumatic brain injury (TBI), you can still be a superhero–without coming to earth in a rocket ship or being bitten by a radioactive spider.
Before I continue, let’s take a short break for a little quiz. See how many of the items in the following checklist apply to you:
- When life knocks you down, you get right back up, dust off your clothes and keep on fighting.
- You never lose hope, no matter how much the odds seem stacked against you.
- Accept your condition and limitations as a fact of life but still look for ways to work around it and function.
- You live your life as fully as you are able.
- Don’t complain or expect people to feel sorry for you—you do your best to hold your head up high no matter what.
- You see yourself as a survivor and not a victim.
- You try to do as much as you can for yourself; but you are not afraid to ask for help when you need help.
- You keep trying new ways to cope until you find something that works.
- You remember to say thank you for everything you get from someone, no matter how small, to show your appreciation.
- Meet setbacks with a determination to keep on trying.
- Realize that by living your life with a TBI, you can be a source of inspiration courage for others.
- Focus on your strengths, rather than your weaknesses.
- Keep a positive self-image.
- Constantly try to do, and to be, better.
- When you fail to meet goals, understand that while they were failed, you are not a failure.
- As much as you may feel helpless, understand that there are people who have it worse, and do what you can to help them, in any way you can.
- Believe in yourself no matter what.
- Say thank you for the kind gestures you may receive and show your appreciation.
- Are slow to be angry with those who don’t understand brain injury and keep from making your brain injury everybody else’s problem.
- Have a positive outlook as much as you are able.
- Do the best you can with what you must work with.
If you answered yes to most, or even all these questions, congratulations! You are a superhero! You passed the superhero entrance exam and you didn’t even have to fight any radioactive monsters to join the club.
Just by having a TBI and living your life to the fullest, to the extent that you are able, is probably your greatest super power. You are fighting an invisible internal battle no one can see, and you are fighting that battle without making headlines or big blockbuster movies about you. You’ve already won a major battle just by making it this far. Sometimes just getting out of bed some days can be a major victory and making it through the day can be an epic struggle.
But you keep doing it.
People with a traumatic brain injury tap into the power we all have inside. Most people don’t know they have that power until they must use it and make their way through life with a TBI.
We aren’t born with TBIs, but when we get one, we learn to make the best of it. Our lives aren’t over, and we can tap into the inner strength we didn’t know we had to keep moving forward.
Some of us find ourselves with an ability or talent we didn’t know we had before; our new circumstance can lead us in an entirely new direction than before. Like me, for instance. Although I’d done a lot of writing before, I didn’t know I could do this kind of writing until I found myself recovering from a major stroke.
Now comes the hard part: coming up with a catchy name for our superhero group. X-Men and the Avengers are already taken, but surely there’s a cool name out there that nobody’s using yet.
Isaac Peterson grew up on an Air Force base near Cheyenne, Wyoming. After graduating from the University of Wyoming, he embarked on a career as an award-winning investigative journalist and as a semi-professional musician in the Twin Cities, the place he called home on and off for 35 years. He also doesn’t mind it at all if someone offers to pick up his restaurant tab. Peterson also welcomes reader comments. Email him at email@example.com.