Today was going to be a video day. I was going to talk to you about a different topic but being on enforced bed rest means I’m typing from under the duvet of inpenatrable safety and writing about something else.
I want to talk to you about how selfish I am.
Before my brain injury, I was prone to a bit of navel gazing and lived a lot of time in my head. Overthinking, problem solving, fortune telling and micro managing all from the confines of my noggin was a regular occurrence. I wasn’t one for being emotionally free and open (there’s a whole story of myself about this but that’s for another day).
Post brain injury I have taken that tendency to internalise and turned it into an art form. I am the gold medal winner in the rumination Olympics. Brain injury has MADE me an introvert, I’d be interested to hear from others who have also experienced this. I used to be fairly socialble and outgoing, I liked being around people and I was usually pretty adept at holding a conversation. Now, I’m quiet, alone and conversation has become a very confusing and tiring team sport.
Intially in those dog days soon after my injury my brain had gotten the message deep down in its primeval level that life was pretty dangerous, so in response to the threat of being alive my brain turned inwards. It blanketed itself in a layer of self absorption to protect itself. Well done brain! It was doing the best thing it could think of to keep the host (me) safe. I had no time for anything except survival. This is why my anxiety became very sensitive and why I got health anxiety and agoraphobia and depression and fatigue. Keep very still Braingirl and nothing will happen. To all intents and purposes this was the absolute best course of action so soon after such a trauma BUT the problem starts when that switch doesn’t dial back down again and stays at 11.
Us brain injury survivors become experts at rumination, shoe gazing, cerebation, contemplation, introspection whatever you want to call it. We are constantly thinking, churning and looking for danger. This does not make for a great social life. I feel like I can’t fully listen when people talk (factor in sensory overwhelm and it’s difficult),my radio is constantly tuned to ME fm. It’s never been more apparent than recently when I’ve needed to be on the ball due to a family tragedy and all my brain can do is shout about how terrible this is for it and how I need to hibernate. Instead of turning me into superbraingirl ready to leap small buildings, it said ‘hey, sod this, let’s get REALLY tired’. Believe me, I’ve done what I can to be of help but I just can’t do stress anymore, my brain does not like it. It’s not something I have any control over, it’s something I’d love to change but I can’t so here we are. Mr braingirl gets it, he knows I’m trying my best but I just feel so selfish and useless, even though it’s not my fault it can still trigger that part of me that wants to do, to be there but can’t.
I’d like to believe as resilience builds, this will lessen. It’s not as bad as it used to be but it’s still a hindrance in my daily life (no day off remember). It doesn’t respect conventions and norms and the polite way to behave, it just does its thing. Quite refreshing in one way to just be the metaphorical equivalent of sitting on someone’s sofa in your pants with your feet on the table, no f***s given. But hard when I want to be human and kind and helpful.
There are times that selfish is good of course, I needed a bit of it in my life. Saying no is a good skill in taking care of yourself, I just wish I could choose when to use it.
At least now my inner absorption is of a slightly more pleasant nature these days, I still have times of thinking everything is screwed and a big swirling vortex is coming to consume us all but I also get days and days of sitting and thinking about how my buttercups are growing or how to kidnap a lamb and keep it without the farmer noticing or whether Groovy Bruce the bunny knows what love is. I think there’ll always be a part of me that sits and broods, it’s in my nature, I’d just like to engage a little more with people. I miss people. The nice ones who are smiley and kind and remind me of summer.