THE IMPACT OF AN ACCIDENT OR AN INJURY ON OUR IDENTITY
People define their identity by a collection of patterns of their abilities, their activities, their thoughts, their feelings and their relationships. These patterns are viewed or are experienced through a filter that is composed of an individual's culture, their ethnic background, their family history, their own temperament and individual experiences. People typically are not able to put their identity into words or to identify it. An individual's identity is as much an invisible part of them as is the air that surrounds us all the time. A word that might be used interchangeably with identity is self-image.
Our identity generally develops slowly as we grow up and go through life. There may be major leaps in the development of our identity, and there may be a long periods where everything is the same. As we get older, our identity tends to stabilize and remains the same over much of our adult life. Our identity is a unique composition of all of the different variables that go into making up our identity.
Sometimes there can be a sudden and a dramatic change to one or more of the variables that make up our identity. A sudden change in these things that make up our identity might be due to an accident or to a traumatic event. Most of what makes an event traumatic to us is the impact that it has on us emotionally. Much of the impact of an event is based on how that event influences the things that make up our identity. Since we cannot usually put our identity or our self-image into words, it is equally difficult for us to understand how a change in one or more of the factors that form our identity can have a major effect on how we feel about ourselves.
If we cannot understand how a change in our life has affected us, then it is even more difficult for us to try to explain the impact of that change to someone else. In addition to not being able to understand the impact on us, we are not able to see something that we can do to improve our situation. As a result, we are left feeling helpless. We do not know how to talk about what we are experiencing, and we do not see anything that we can do to make it better. The frustration and the helplessness tend to just grow stronger.