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Just give me time

I’m not a particularly festive soul, Christmas and New year are not that special to me. I always seem to find them anti-climatic and the weight of expectation that you’re magically going to wake up to a different you, a different world on Jan 1st is always disappointing. Some may say I’m miserable, I just think it’s just not my bag and that’s ok.

My 2013 has been a mixed bundle, I’ve made some progress but also had times of feeling stuck and helpless in this new world of brain injury. I could make a massive list of resolutions for the coming year but if I’m honest I just want to recover. Properly.

It’s a small yet massive wish as TBI takes it’s own sweet time, I’ve had to learn to try to let go, to try to find that elusive ‘acceptance’, to find new paths and new ways of thinking about life. I’ve lost a lot of my independence and every day isn’t easy but I’m still here fighting.

There’s a saying that if you feel like you’re going through hell, keep going. Well it’s bloody hard sometimes. My PTSD can get triggered by operations and hospital visits (not even mine) and the recent news about Schumacher I have been avoiding to prevent re-experiencing my trauma. Yet it’s still not understood by others why that would still make me feel bad. Why should they understand? After all, their experience is totally different from mine. I am moving towards trying not to be triggered by such things but it takes time. I work hard every day, you can’t rest on your laurels with this. The body stores trauma in the mind and the muscles, it shuts it off initially so you can cope with the immediate impact but it’s all stored in there ready to come out further down the line. I have days where I tremble all day or dissociate or panic or cry it out and I have days where things seem ok. It’s all part of the process. BUT that process takes time, lots of it.

A man called Dr David Bercelli says that logic never resolves trauma, he’s right, you can go over and over it in your head trying to find sense but there is none. Not one bit. It’s overwhelming and unbearable and you go to some very dark places. He says it terrifies us by “unveiling the fragility, precariousness and vulnerability of our humanity, it redefines us and tears at the fabric of our identity”. But and here’s the hope, he also says that “we are then forced into a new way of life, we DO come out the other side but in a new expanded experience of life with maturity and compassion”. I am clinging on to this belief to help me through the tough times.

Coming out the other side, that’s my wish. I think I’m 1/2 of the way there but this last half is the hard work, it’s the exploring the dark corners, facing the enemy right in its fat face knowing that it’s going to hurt but doing it anyway.

So I wish you all a better, brighter 2014 but don’t worry about making too many resolutions and certainly don’t worry if you don’t manage some. I would prefer to say dream don’t plan. Dreaming means your mind can take you anywhere.

Remember you can plan all you like but life sometimes has other ideas.

 

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A cloud full of tears: a brief interlude for Next Doors Cat

I’m side stepping away from injury and mental health today to talk about Next Doors Cat (NDC). She’s gone unmentioned in this blog for a while and I need to rectify that.

NDC is missing, presumed dead. She’s been gone for a while, we noticed that she no longer sits on our wall or comes to say hello at the window. This may not seem like a big deal, after all she wasn’t even our cat but I need to explain why this has upset me so much.

NDC appeared at a time in my life when I was the lowest I’ve ever felt. She would appear at the bedroom window and ‘talk’ to me, then I would let her in and she would not leave my side. She did this every day. She sat and looked into my eyes when I couldn’t stop crying, she lay next to my face when I was lonely and sad and wanted to die. She always knew when I needed that tenderness. Yes she was a cat but Mr Braingirl aside, she was the only living being who was patient enough to be in my space when everything was hopeless.

I like to think I gave her something too, a warm place to sleep, some food and lots of love, all of which she didn’t get from next door. I hope this gave her some comfort in what are now I believe her last months alive. I’m a bit daft about animals, I love them (sometimes more than humans) but I also believe they can be very intuitive, NDC knew I needed someone and so there she was. She had an inbuilt alarm, the minute those dark thoughts appeared of wanting to give up she would appear like magic and give me purrs and cuddles. She was also the catalyst for this blog and all that has followed.

I am so grateful for NDC, without her things would have been even harder. I’m so sad she has gone and I miss her very much.

Goodbye Tigger (for that was her real name) I will never forget your help.

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All in all is all we are

I like to think I’m an honest person and call a spade a spade but I will, if possible, do anything to avoid hurting others even if it means hurting myself instead. I am quite a closed book (believe it or not) until I get to know someone and then when I do I give my all. I am a loyal person, I value loyalty and maybe this is my problem. I put expectations of my own values and behaviour on others. This is a mistake I make over and over again, so I guess that makes me a bit of an idiot right?

Since my accident I have noticed a pattern emerge, there has been a gradual peeling off of friends. Now I know I moved away and I know people have busy lives BUT it doesn’t take much to drop a quick “hello, how are you?” I also know I could make more effort with contact but in these circumstances I’m allowing myself a bit of a free pass on that one as I was too busy trying not to die.

I was involved in a team sport back in England, a sport I put my heart and soul into. I enabled others to access this sport and in small ways changed some lives. I’m not the only person doing this, there are many around the country that do the same thing week in, week out. ┬áThere are many good people in this sport that I used to play but there is also selfishness too. Like any walk of life. This team sport is demanding in many ways both physically and emotionally and when you carry a large number of people’s shit around for a while it would be nice to have forged what you feel are good friendships.

Since my accident I’ve had regular contact with 2 people from the team. 2. Out of around 30ish. Yes 2.

Now this could be a reflection on me, I could be a knob of the highest order and it serves me right. But having put everything into something and being helpful and encouraging and taking the griping and bitching, well, it kind of sucks. It’s hard for me to sound so negative about people but I’ve spent so many days upset and alone I had to let it out. It’s inevitable when life changes happen that some people drift from the shore but I never wanted much, just someone to ask me how I’m doing. Let me just clear up there are people outside of the sport that have buggered off too!

Talking to other TBI survivors it would seem that it’s not an uncommon theme. I think some people can’t handle trauma, it scares them, they don’t know what to say so they say nothing. This is understandable but my advice would be to say something, even if its admitting that you don’t know what to say.

It’s not all doom and gloom, whilst some have scuttled away there are others (some who I already knew, some who I have never physically met and some who I was just getting to know) who have been brilliant. There have been unexpected gifts of books, letters, Netflix subscriptions and even some seedlings for me to grow. Private messages on social networks encouraging me, standing with me and generally being complete rocks.

It’s time for me to let go of the hurt I feel and focus on the flowers that are blooming from this instead. Having days and nights to sit around and wallow and churn the brain over means I obsess over the smallest things. I look for reasons for everything, I cry and blame and get angry and pour hate into myself but after that I also rationalise, find hope and try to look at things in a new way. It’s very hard, especially when I’m depressed to find hope in anything, but I have to if I’m going to survive.

Whilst it’s sad to feel rejected by people its also a lesson for me, a lesson in friendship, a lesson in saying no sometimes and not giving all of my time to people, especially when I can see that its unappreciated. It’s OK to take sometimes too. I’m bad at accepting help, it makes me feel funny. I like being strong and independent. Right now though I can’t be, I have to lean and save my energy for myself.