7

You just kinda wasted my precious time

If you look at my home page under the ‘social’ heading there’s one lonely YouTube button. There used to be one for Twitter and up until yesterday one for Facebook. I’m leaving Facebook you see, we’re getting divorced. A decision that has been a long time coming but the time is finally right.

I went on holiday about two weeks ago, a short holiday of 3 nights away on the edge of the world in Donegal. Whilst we were there we had no internet access and it was WONDERFUL. I actually read books and went outside. I was measurably happier. For a long time after my TBI the internet and more specifically Facebook became an avoidance tactic for me. When I was too knackered and frightened to do anything I would endlessly swirl around in a circle on social media, logging in and out just to pass time. I knew that this habit was not healthy. Mentally healthy.  Don’t get me wrong, at times it served a purpose, I had my wonderful Uk and Ireland support group to keep me occupied and at times prop me up when I was descending into PTSD misery. That group is also continuing to do great things for people with brain injuries and will no doubt continue when I’m gone. It was hard to tell them I was leaving but all things must evolve, including me.

There became a point where Facebook was like sitting in a café, one I was familiar with but for some reason I visited it everyday even when I didn’t need to. Other people I knew were in the café, people I liked. For some reason though, they just sat there and randomly shouted things that were odd, things they wouldn’t usually say but in Facebook cafe things JUST HAD TO BE SAID. That’s my first issue with it, the need to speak, to say things, to write commentary on every little thing, anything, as long as it’s written down and responded to. I found myself thinking this is not how I converse with people I like. The weirdest thing though was the strangers, the strangers sat at other tables who interrupted my world with racist or sexist comments, jokes that weren’t funny, chicken littles who every day said the sky was falling in, advertisements of pages I had no interest in, angry (mostly) men who didn’t really know what they were saying but JUST HAD to rant. I spent a lot of time moving tables in the cafe, away from the ones I didn’t know, a lot of time putting in ear plugs and shutting my eyes but you know what? like a babies nappy full of poo, they just kept seeping through.

After those three days of Facebook peace  in Donegal, I asked myself just what on Earth I thought I was doing. There’s no way in real life I’d tolerate this amount of nonsense for so long. But Facebook is very clever, it convinces you that you NEED it. Other people drugged by it try to convince you that you NEED it. I convinced myself for a long time that I NEEDED it, ” it’s a useful networking tool blah blah blah” “how will I ever meet people otherwise blah blah blah” But here’s the funny thing, there was a world pre Facebook where I still managed to talk to people.

So this will be the last post of mine that you will see me pushing on Facebook. Some would argue I’m shooting myself in the foot by removing an audience and ready avenue of advertising for my blog. Here’s the crux of the issue, I simply don’t care. I don’t care about Facebook and I don’t care about being a mega successful blogger. As long as what I do helps people when it’s needed then it’s all good.

I’m free now and it feels FANTASTIC.

4

When things go right

Hello all,

It’s hard sometimes after a brain injury to remember there is good in the world. It’s hard to believe that things will ever come good and that you will achieve wonderful, joyful, amazing things.

I’m here to tell you that you will. At first, it’s small tiny innocuous stuff like vacuuming the living room or putting the kettle on that then progresses to stuff that you never thought you’d be able to do ever again.

One such incident occurred with me recently, as you may know I’ve been studying Horticulture. A two year course that I’m currently almost halfway through. There are eight exams to sit with this course, two of which I did in February. Pre brain injury I had a photographic memory, I could read something once or twice and it stuck. Now I have to go over and over and over something before it begins to make any sort of sense to me. When exam time loomed I panicked, there was absolutely NO WAY I was going to remember all this sciencey stuff, all these strange names and new concepts.

So I did what I have to do with everything – I adapted. I started revision weeks ahead of what I would have usually done, made extensive notes and read them again and again and again. I’m so effing chuffed to tell you I got my results back this week; two clear passes with one commendation!

I doubted myself and my brain because I’d become ‘victim’ to my brain injury, I was in a place where nothing goes right and my brain is an organ that just lets me down. Well TAKE THAT LITTLE VOICE, my brain did good, REALLY good. I’m proud of myself for forging forwards even when everything felt stagnant and lost.

If I can do it, you can, I promise, it takes time and patience but I’m here cheering you on. Let’s celebrate small victories. What have you conquered recently?

0

Braingirl bonus. Video catch up. “I just want to grow plants and sing songs”

Hey there,

It’s me, I’m back. A load of old waffle (approx 15 mins) about what’s been occurring for braingirl. I talk about exams, fatigue and simplifying life amongst other things.

The usual surreal touch of going out of synch has not been rectified as per. But who worries about that sort of thing?

Enjoy!

0

Solstice and the festive season

Hello there,

I hope this post finds you all well and making little steps forward. Today I took a camera out on a Solstice walk with me so I could share it with you but I deleted the files by accident (yay brain!) so plan B was to film in the garden to at least get something done.

I wanted to write something short today about the festive season and the pressure it exerts on us all and how that is so overwhelming for someone with a brain injury. This time of year is hard for many people for a myriad of reasons, it can be a lonely time and also a reminder of things we have lost too. It can be hard financially as well as emotionally.

With a brain injury it becomes a time of extreme overwhelm physically, emotionally and sensory and all these things together add up to relapse and many days in bed. Whilst many of us would like to join in more with family gatherings its just not possible to maintain the level of energy needed. So if your loved one has a brain injury don’t feel they’re being awkward if they leave early or don’t make it at all, they’re simply unable to cope that day.

As for you my brain injured brethren, remove guilt from your vocabulary, DO NOT feel guilty if you’re unable to last more than a few hours or if all the people talking causes you to feel irritable and you need to escape. BE SELF-FUL. Do what you need to get through safely and calmly.

My number one tip is to do your own thing. This is what myself and Mr Braingirl do, Christmas is not a time we celebrate, we get ours in a few days early on the Winter Solstice and celebrate Yule with a nice walk, nice food and a fire. We’ve done this for a few years now and I’ve survived the festive season feeling peaceful and refreshed. There is absolutely no obligation to do anything that you don’t want to. NO regrets, NO apologies. People who love you will understand and not pressurise you into doing something you don’t want to do. If someone does try to pressurise you then be brave and give them a great big NO. Remember you live your life for you, nobody else.

If you do the big family thing, remember small chunks, lots of quiet rest breaks in another room, ear plugs for the noise, lots of hydration (I mean water not the Xmas booze!) and get yourself home and in your pyjamas when you’ve had enough.

Here’s a small part of my day today I want to share with you. I’m always available to contact if things get tough.

 

Have a Merry Solstice everyone, welcome back the Sun and let your light shine brightly.

 

4

Braingirl Bonus #2 Woman in a shed

Hello there, I hope this finds you well.

Today’s post is a short video (approx 3 mins) of my allotment. I’ve had it for a year now so there’s been one growing season so far and it was pretty successful despite the best efforts of the Northern Irish weather!

I got myself a shed and this is something that has excited me beyond measure (it’s the simple things these days). This was my third attempt to acquire one after being let down twice already (like gold dust I tell you!). I found a shed builder tucked away on a farm amongst the ribbons of country roads round here. It was also home to the waggliest dog I’ve ever met. He was a man of few words but he turned up when he said he would and built me my little hideaway on the allotment.

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So bearing in mind it was a very windy and cold day I whipped a camera around the plot (no quality control mind you!) to show you a snapshot of where I spend my healing time. Getting into growing veg and flowers has been an absolute lifeline for me. It keeps me mindful, I get immense pleasure from it and its very satisfying to plant a tiny seed that then becomes a huge plant with tasty things to eat. It’s most definitely magic.

I recommend getting into the soil to get some therapy,   I enjoy it so much it sent me in a new direction and I’m now studying Horticulture at college (which is soooo hard) to use gardening as a therapeutic tool for others.

Do you find gardening helpful? Let me know below.

Anyway without further ado, here’s a short video for you.

 

2

Braingirl Bonus #1

A quick video talking about where I’m at right now. I got all my settings sorted but forgot about the volume so you may need to turn it up a bit, I’ll get it right one day!

Anyway, please comment if you like and let me know the direction you’d like me to take (if you tell me to stop and go away, I wont be offended!).

17

But now you’re here, brighten my Northern sky

I wanted to wait a few days to write this but got too excited so I’m just diving in and getting it done. A few days ago (29th July to be precise) myself and Mr braingirl went and did this.

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We had kept this fairly quiet, planned it over the past few months and then on a glorious sunny day in the north of Ireland we had a beautiful handfasting ceremony. The numbers were kept small (close family only) with a few wonderful generous friends, whom I wish to thank through this post, who contributed to make the day special by playing music, taking photos and conducting the ceremony. The whole day was held in our beautiful garden courtesy of our landlady and we had a scrummy all vegan buffet by Sarah’s world fare .

But, I hear you cry, what does this have to do with brain injury? Well, everything and nothing. Those of you familiar with my story so far will know myself and Mr braingirl met a mere month before my injury you will also know how he has tirelessly cared for me for years. It is also known that my fatigue restricts many things in my life including big stressful events like …well….weddings. On the morning, I had a few moments of feeling like I couldn’t do it but I told my brain to get itself together because THIS IS ON. But this is also absolutely nothing to do with my injury, it’s a day separate from that thing that happened, it’s a day we used to reclaim ourselves back as a couple without the third wheel in the relationship having anything to do with it. Let me tell you it was a day full of joy, love, beauty, nature and friendship.

It was a time when both our families could get together for the first time that didn’t involve intensive care and hospitals. A time for me to reconnect with my niece and nephew who are wild wolves in the best way that children are supposed to be, full of fun and wonder. I sit here now full of happy tears because my family have gone home across the sea and I got a glimpse, a reminder of just how good life is. I sat for a few times at the wedding and looked around and thought to myself ‘THIS is what life is about’.

I want to share a few things about the day with you, firstly we did it without spending massive amounts of money. No wedding needs to cost thousands of pounds. A few people told us it was the best wedding they have been to ( not family members, so no obligation to say this) and I think it was because it transcended the actual act of the mechanics of marriage, it became about the meaning of it and the heart present within it. It was handmade, rustic and simple, no fussy dress code, no formal speeches, no present list, no long drawn out hymns and the only rule was to relax and have fun. My mum in law stitched reams of bunting and made our cake, I made table decorations from bundles of twigs from the garden, confetti from dried rose petals and lavender, tree decorations for pence and a bouquet from garden trimmings put together on the morning.

I sneaked in a secret speech that I’d written that made my mum cry snort as it was a thanks to Mr braingirl for the nearly 4 years of care and safety and support. It was my time to try to give back to him a little something for diverting all the attention for all this time.

All in all it was a magical day (and I use that word as it’s literally intended, I had goddess blessings from a witchy friend, hidden and not so hidden about my person). A day I wish I could do all over again, there was something very special in the air two days ago and thanks to Shirley our pagan officiant we spread it around to all our guests like magical beautiful confetti.

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Just before it started, what a beautiful setting. (Photo by my sister).