Out Of My Mind

True bliss is living life at ease. This site is for all survivors of any type throughout all the world.

    "I have been a head injury survivor for the last eighteen years – over half my life. I would like to take this opportunity to share some of the difficulties I have experienced as a result of my injury… If you are a survivor, you may benefit by reading what I have to write. I hope that after reading this you will realize that you are not alone, and that there are things that can be done to better your life."

Arclight Magazine Article

Winter 1995 Article

Thus begins a book entitled Out of my Mind, currently being written by Dan Windheim. Filled with personal reminiscences and reflections of his life's struggles and successes, the book is intended to be "a sort of survival manual for people who have survived brain injury."
Partly autobiographical, the book frequently contains stream of consciousness narrative. "The words you read come directly 'out of my mind' and onto the paper." Mr. Windheim writes in his introduction, explaining how the book's title came about.

Mr. Windheim sustained a brain stem injury in a car accident when he was 16. He was in a coma for 2 ½ months and has been through extensive rehabilitation, over the years, to help improve his still-slurred speech, injured leg and weakened left arm.

He has come a long way since that crash. He earned a college degree and now shares an ARC-affiliated apartment in Garnerville with another young man who also has Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). He works at the Nyack Library, spends time at the gym and enjoys a busy social life. But the problems with which Mr. Windheim struggles most are the cognitive deficits caused by his head injury.

"Do I remember the car accident?" He ponders the question. "In my dreams I remember being in an accident. But is it reality? I don't know".

"This is how my brain injury affects me." He writes in the book. "I sometimes fabricate the way I think things were. I don't do this purposely. It's really the way I think things went even if they didn't …it's frustrating and annoying. It makes me feel guilty, that I am being dishonest."

The book touches upon similar frustrations shared by people with TBI: The 'Why me?' syndrome; the sense of being cheated out of life. "Sometimes I would like to go back to my old life… when I was 16... when life was great, when I was told that I had the world by its tail." The sense of inadequacy – "this head injury of mine has left me with virtually no self-esteem." The concerns about loss of short-term memory and organizational skills- "I have trouble remembering the order in which things have to be done. For example, everyone knows that when you do the wash you first have to put in your laundry, and then the soap, and you have to remember to bring quarters. But I often find that I have trouble sequencing or thinking through the entire process. This is why it is important for me to keep a book where I write things down. It's like the poster that says 'Plan Ahead' but the letters get crammed off the end of the page because the writer neglected to do just that."

"With head injury, things are very gray, nothing is definitive,'' he continues. "One minute you can be functioning very well. The next minute things might be chaotic."

The idea for writing this book came about gradually. "My brother Andrew, who now lives in Hong Kong, gave me one of his old computers. I started using the word processor as a diary. As the information accumulated, I thought, 'Hey, if I'm having all these ideas, other people with head injury must be having similar thoughts. 'I figured it would be interesting if survivors could share experiences."

He began writing in 1993 and, with the help of an editor-friend, is now three-quarters of the way through the book.

Mr. Windheim's sense that there is a great need for such a book has recently been confirmed by the feedback he has received on his newly-updated web page.

"I have been contacting head injury survivors all over the world. It' incredible. People in New Zealand, Italy, and Australia have filled out forms with their names, addresses, and notes commenting on their own situations. I've been updating my manuscript to include some of their notes.

"A lot of the people with whom I correspond feel that they have been robbed of their lives. They feel cheated. In reality, head injury survivors have been cheated. You can't focus on that. You have to go on. And that's what I try to get across in my book."

Dan Windheim

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