I’ve started going to a Brain injury Support group, its a small group but after the 2 meetings we’ve had so far its been a great source of support and gives me the chance to talk to other people apart from myself.
We were given homework after our first session to think about change. People often say after a TBI that they feel somehow different or that their identity has changed, we had to come up with 2 ways in which we have changed and 2 ways in which we have stayed the same.
I found this incredibly difficult, it would have been easy to reel off the negatives; anxiety, isolation etc but I wanted to try and find positive answers to this. If you’d have asked me a few months ago I would have said that everything has changed, I’m not the same person and never will be. But whilst reflecting on the question I realised something, the way I think about things may have changed, there may be a skew in most things I think and feel but fundamentally, deep down, I’m still me, I’m still Braingirl. Now this was a revelation to me because everything felt so, well, different.
One of the things I settled on was the change in my attitude to what is important, I used to run around all over the place doing everything for everyone and never just take the time to ‘smell the roses’. But after a year of HAVING to sit with myself and be still, I now appreciate it’s the things in life you miss whilst rushing around that matter. Birds singing, rain on the window, love, friendship, you get a better appreciation of the simple beauty of life. It’s about filtering what is important and choosing what to get angry about. ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff’ is a cliche but it’s true. When it comes down to it does that red light or that person holding up the queue really matter? Truly they don’t. What’s the rush? Does it matter?
This train of thought led me to think about happiness. I’ve read a lot about gratitude and happiness during my recovery and I’ll be honest it was a bit of an epiphany. Most people think that if they line up the ducks as it were that they will somehow achieve ‘happiness’, as if it’s a prize at the end of the game. Be honest, how many of us say to ourselves “if only I can get this job/promotion/car/holiday, I’ll be happy” we all do it. But what happens when we get that thing we were aiming for? We might feel temporarily elated, satisfied but then the voice starts again, “I’ve got the job but I still don’t feel quite right maybe I need to buy a house”. So on and so on, life then becomes a rushed pursuit of something that we think is ‘out there’. I had an income, a house, a marriage, a busy social life but was I happy? No in all honesty, deep down I was not. I still felt on the outside edge of everything, never really fully engaged. I’m sure there are many rich miserable people who can’t understand why the acquisition of ‘things’ hasn’t helped them. I’m not saying you cant be rich and happy, of course you can but it’s not coming from what you have it’s coming from within. Same goes for not having much either. I’ve got nothing anymore, I’m having to start again and I feel I can be happy with much less than I had
Let me let you in on a secret, a secret that completely changed the way I think. Happiness isn’t out there, it’s within us. Happiness is a frame of mind. If you constantly think sad horrible thoughts how do you think you are going to feel? That’s right, sad and horrible. I’m not saying it’s easy to attain because it involves changing a lot of entrenched thinking but it’s there ready to grab if you try. That’s not to say you will never be sad or scared again, you will because this is human nature and if you don’t get the bad how do you know what the good feels like? BUT you will handle things better, you will be able to not let things consume you as much. You will see those thoughts for what they are, just thoughts and let things float by.
My good days are starting to outnumber the bad at last. The bad, when they are there, are very bad but they give way to better days of peace and acceptance.
I find myself wearing this more frequently
Let me know your positive outcomes from what initially felt like the end of the world.