Second Acts

F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, “There are no second acts in American Lives.” Rather than analyze what he meant by that, I’m going to reflect on the fact that I’m grateful to finally be ready to begin my second act. It’s taken a little over three years, a worldwide Pandemic, and a few false starts. Thankfully, I have the opportunity to return to school to get a degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling to be able to help others navigate through the difficult process of recovery. While some previous goals are either unattainable or no longer as important, the pursuit of some of them still brings me joy, and I’m comfortable now with the idea that new ones are out there even if I’m uncertain of what they are. In the immortal words of Rhys Ifans in the film Greenberg, I’m finally ready to embrace the life I never planned on having.


Congratulations to your degree and your recovery and your willingness to share it with us. A brain aneurysm rupture definitely changes our lives and the perspectives we have. I’m sure you will be excellent in your role as a Clinical Mental Health Counselor.
All the best wishes to you.


Excellent @Stephen! Will you focus on CBT?

Thank you so much! I appreciate it, and I hope you are doing well.

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At this point, I’m not sure. I’d like to work with people recovering from TBI since I feel like I can offer unique insight into the process, but at this point, I’m open to anything. I hope you are doing well.

Thank you @Stephen , I’m doing very well and I am thankful for my “second lease of life “

Hey Stephen

In a way, I did the opposite, I was working with people with disabilities, then became the one with a disability. After the initial surgery I returned to my role with much more insight BUT I must warn you, there is a need to have a little disconnection between your own situation and that of your clients. It is easy to draw a direct parallel but it is very rare that 2 individuals have that exact parallel of experiences. Similarities, yes, but parallel… …that’s rare. Our own personal insights/experiences can be invaluable, however, sometimes our own insights can prevent us from acknowledging another person’s own unique situation. This can disadvantage both ourselves and our clients as we can get into a pattern of recognition to our own experiences and this blinding us to our clients own individuality and needs. Another common issue that can occur is an ‘emotional burnout’, using our experiences, both good and bad, reliving them can have a detrimental effect on us, ourselves. Over time the emotional toll can build and build. Being aware of these emotional triggers is a must for everybody involved.

Now, in saying this, using our own experiences can be very beneficial for all involved. It can give us a comprehension, an insight, that those without a ‘Lived Experience’ simply do not have. It can give us a level of empathy rather than sympathy, an understanding beyond a book knowledge. Just in having someone who can say ‘Yea, me too’ can be such a relief because, let’s be honest, this can all be very isolating. The other big plus can be that it gives us, those of us with that ‘Lived Experience’, an outlet to be able to share our experiences.

Best of luck with you endeavours.

Merl from the Modsupport Team


I’m doing ok thanks for asking. I thought you may have a good insight to help the numerous military Vets in your area. CBT was a new thing when I ruptured and I was very interested in the process of the client taking ownership of their actions/reactions and issues whilst with the help of the therapist goal setting. I just put it in the simplest of terms, Hope I’ve not offended anyone, as it’s much more than what I’ve written. Hope you’re good at math, there’s a lot of it, if you go the Psych route. Better pay for a MSW, you’ll have to get a PhD in Psych to better the level of pay of a MSW, but I could call you Dr. Stephen! With your level of education, you could skip the MA or MSW and go straight into a PhD if your scores are high enough. Had a friend that did that. Her PsyD is from Atlanta. I don’t know if universities still allow that. She’s pretty darn smart, I think you’re more intelligent. And just think, Pavlov, B.F. Skinner and Erikson, will be but a footnote for you LOL

Thank you, Merl.

I appreciate your advice, and I will definitely make it a point to stay objective. I hope you are doing well.