Did you hear the one about the woman who moved countries to start a new life and ended up nearly dying? Sounds like a book plot. Something I thought that never really happens in real life. Until it happened to me that is.
I’m three years into that story now, a story that initially felt it ended with that unlucky turn of events, a story that would no longer have exciting twists and turns and if it was a book it would be quite an effort to read filled with existential woe and misery. I’ll not lie, it was filled with woe and misery for a long time, it still can be at times but what I’ve realised now I’m at my THREE YEAR ANNIVERSARY is that my book is still being written, there’s still chance for me to have exciting chapters.
Tedious book analogy aside, I compare the woman I was three years ago to the one I am now and there’s a world of difference. If like me, you have an invisible condition you don’t often see the improvement especially when life can feel like one long drag, it’s only when I reflect back and compare that I see it. Three years ago I thought I’d died, if not physically; spiritually, emotionally and psychologically. I’ve spent a large proportion of the past 36 months mourning that loss. I still grieve in pockets to this day, grief never goes, it stays with you but becomes a transformative process as opposed to one that keeps you heavy and stuck. Boy oh boy grief is tough.
I’ve had a couple of appointments with neuro and psychology this past week and they both said how different I looked, not because of my Dave Hill (look him up youngsters) style fringe from my hormonal fringe trim rampage a few weeks ago, but something from inside, something that can’t be described. You know what? they’re right. Something has finally clicked whether it’s the beginning of acceptance, a peace within myself or a confidence in who I am now I’ve no idea. It doesn’t even really matter to me which of those it is I just know I FEEL different.
The new routine I’ve implemented has helped tremendously, the almost cessation of mind chatter is delightful and I’m having moments of true joy, they are fleeting but they’re there and I sit and appreciate them when they come. Finally, after years of stop-start, cyclical episodes of depression, grief and anxiety and a pervading sense of hopelessness I’m finally believing I have another life to get on with.
Thats not to say I’m ‘cured’ I never will be, this brain damage is always going to be there, it will sometimes knock me sideways again, it will sometimes make me sad, it will often make me exhausted and fed up BUT that’s part of me now and that’s ok. I’ve finally embraced impermanence, we are so fixated on control and micro managing and being completely sure that we have everything locked into permanence and we know how things are going to turn out, to deviate from that shocks us to our core, it shakes our world. I now live with my mantra ‘this too shall pass’ – everything does, EVERYTHING, including even us. I got to kiss my mortality on the cheek and it’s changed my life.
I have big plans for myself for the coming year (with a nod to knowing things may change) including starting a Psychology degree. I also want to see how far I can take brain injury awareness in the UK and Ireland. I have an absolute burning passion to reach out and touch (not in a creepy way) brain injury survivors and let them know those four simple words ‘you are not alone’. With this in mind I have started a brain injury support group on Facebook come and join us here. This blog will also evolve too, I’m not sure where yet but the possibilities are endless.
It’s also invisible illness week this week a time to remind ourselves of the battles some of our friends and family may have, but also the absolute strength and courage we chronies have to never give up, to never stop trying and starting each day with fresh hope even when we feel like we can’t keep doing it anymore.
I want to celebrate my three year milestone with a word to my younger self, here I am in this picture with a poem that really touches my heart. This small girl had no idea of what was waiting for her as she grew but I want to thank her for the resilience and courage and compassion she gave to my older self, she is unaware of just how much she’s helped me. She was free and open and full hearted. A girl with sunshine in her heart and wings on her feet. Thank you.
And finally, I couldn’t do three years without including the other man in my life, so here he is (this song has got ‘acceptance’ written all over it, it’s very uplifting. Who would have thought that from Damien!).