• Luke Bohnenberger

How To Breathe While Drowning


After my brain injury in March 2015, I felt as if I was thrown into a stormy sea. Every time I would come up for air another crashing wave would send me back under. The water was cold and muggy, nothing was clear, but I knew one thing and one thing only, that I needed air. However, every time I would finally reach the top to breathe another wave was upon me and sent me back under to start the long swim back up for air once again. This blog is all about how to breathe when drowning or in other terms, how to calm the sea inside your mind. Throughout my recovery, every time things seemed to be getting better something bad was always lurking around the corner. Serious infections, emotional impulses and back to back surgeries. I am sure you have heard the saying that “Life is hard”, however, I once heard that life isn’t hard for life is perfect because God created life. The hard part is living. We cannot always control the stormy sea that is on the outside but what if I could give you some tips on how to calm the sea on the inside - in your mind. Even with a brain injury, through repetition and practice these techniques can become life changing habits. These habits include accept, expect and reflect.

One of the most common reasons that you might be drowning is because you cannot accept the reality of your pain. While interviewing many TBI survivors for my upcoming book, TBI 3-Deminstional Perspective, I noticed a common similarity in most of their stories. Most of us and even myself at one point cannot accept what we are going through. One day we were on the top of the mountain and the next day the mountain was on top of us. I understand that it seems easy to reject what limitations you may have but the longer you reject the longer your circumstances become your standard. One of the amazing women I interviewed did not accept that she was having serious problems, so she lingered for months drowning until she decided to go to a doctor and find out that she had a traumatic brain injury. Now of course times are still difficult but because she accepted her pain she is finding ways to help or prevent further pain. You cannot move forward in your life if you cannot accept where you are at this moment.


The next habit is to expect. Expect good things to happen. Do not expect the worse. What we believe is typically what we perceive. After my third surgery for infection, I began to expect the worse and that is exactly what I got. When you expect a tree to die, you will notice the brown leaves over the green vibrant colored leaves. Your mind goes into tunnel vision. Accept what has happened but do not expect worse to come. High hopes, as corny as it sounds, can make a huge difference in your life as it has in mine. When you wake up, expect good things to happen and do not be discouraged when they don’t. Good things take time. After all the pyramids were not built over night.


Last but not least is to reflect. Reflect on every moment of your recovery both the failures and successes. When mistakes happen (and trust me they will) reflect on them and learn from them. You might get mad again and hit a wall. Reflect on the situation and how you can breathe through the situation next time. With a TBI things are going to happen out of your control but use those next moments when you are back in control to reflect. Let your brain know that you are still in charge. When you do something amazing, which you will, reflect and figure out how you can replicate that situation once again and make it even better.

Accept, Expect and Reflect. These habits have made a huge shift during my recovery and I believe they can do the same for you. It will not happen overnight so don’t get frustrated if you do not see changes immediately. In order for these to become habits in your daily routine you must use them daily. Make sense? Write down these three words somewhere you can see them when you wake up, imbed them into your mind. These habits can take place not only for TBI survivors but for anyone. Shoot me an email if you have any more questions. Have a wonderful day and an even better tomorrow.

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