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I wouldn’t knock it til you’re in them shoes

My last post was about our charity attempt at running in the Belfast marathon. Well, we did it! We raised a lot of money that will be going to the Community Brain Injury team that have helped myself and many others navigate the confusing terrain of brain Injury.

So I write to you today a bit achy, a bit tired and a mixture of happy, proud, relieved and grateful. I was posting pictures on Facebook and Twitter from the day and it got me thinking about what the outside world sees and how sometimes that is far removed from the reality of things (not just for me, I suspect we all put our happy, sorted and confident photos onto social media). It is nice to see people enjoying themselves but can be quite demoralising if you’re having an overwhelming day and think you’re not matching up to their lives. Tip 1: NEVER use social media to compare yourself to others, what other people post up there is only a snapshot of what’s going on, they get sad, frustrated and lonely too!

It occurred to me that there may be some dissonance between pictures people see of me and what is really happening in my day. There may even be some mutterings of ‘she’s not sick/recovering/ suffering, look at her there, dressed and outside’.

Posting images such as this one of my view during the marathon

marathonor this one from Beltane

beltanewell these can make it seem like I’ve got it together and I’m ‘better’.

But as I’ve mentioned in previous posts brain injury without any obvious physical impairment is very much an ‘invisible’ disability. What people don’t realise is the amount of work that has gone in BEFORE these photos were taken.

It starts as an idea maybe weeks before it actually happens, there will be some days where myself and Mr Braingirl go to do what we’ve planned and anxiety or fatigue may have other ideas so back onto the planning stage it goes. So we wait for another ‘opening’. When we finally make it out of the door (usually with some lingering anxiety) we have to be able to park near to where we need to be, we also can’t plan for a full day – I get too tired, so we have to fit all we need to into a few hours.

Once we’ve made it through the obstacles we take photos, because it’s nice to take photos and make memories but it’s nice to have them to share with my friends and family and to also say “LOOK, LOOK I DID IT TODAY!” ( how sweet that is!). If you’re reading this and you follow me on twitter or Facebook and get to see my photos please try to imagine the strength it took to get that photo and be happy for me, encourage me. I’m happy when I post them, I look at them many many times because It feeds the part of me that bulldozes through regardless, it nourishes the nature loving, go get ’em bit of me that was lost for so long.

That bit is returning slowly, evidenced by lacing up my trainers on Monday and running in the rain and wind and cold a distance further than I have ever run before. A distance that I did despite the Mumu of Injury talking to me all the way through telling me I was damaging myself and I wasn’t safe. I ran anyway and I think that has to be a metaphor for the whole recovery process, a brain injury IS a marathon, not a sprint and sometimes you may have to stop for water and a rest but keep following the route and eventually you’ll reach the finish line.

forrest-gump-17

Source: Forest Gump: Paramount pictures: howtosurviveinparis.wordpress.com

Run and don’t you ever let things stop you.

 

 

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You call it jogging

I’m taking a brief sidestep today to write about a little thing myself and other brain injury survivors are doing next month (5th May).

We are going to run in the Belfast marathon.

Yes a marathon.

marathon

Admittedly we’re not all doing the whole 26 miles, we’re running as a relay so will do a leg each. But still this is a huge thing for all of us. I readily admit I’m petrified. It’s going to be a long, tiring day. There’s going to be thousands of people there, it’s a bit of a baptism of fire. I have moments of realisation and get scared and wonder if I can stay in bed instead.

I’m hoping for nice weather and a good mood that day, that’s all I need to power through. If I don’t sleep very well the night before my anxiety will rocket. This will make it slightly more difficult than I’d like it to be. But as I’m forever trying to tell myself, I can’t speculate on what ifs anymore, they have a tendency to be negative.

We are running as The Brainwaves, and got a lovely logo made up by the amazing Gary Erskine (comic book artist extraordinaire and friend of roller girls everywhere) whom I admire and respect so much. This will be on our team t-shirts, so if you watch you’ll spot us.

The BrainwavesThe marathon was a target we set ourselves, for me it’ll be an extremely cathartic moment. A time for me to say ‘I blooming well did it’. It was only a few months ago I was scared to run, I went on my first jog post op and ran like I was made out of wood, too scared to move in case I jiggled my brain about. All the brain Injury survivors in this team have had to overcome many obstacles to get to this point, it’s a real test for us. I am so proud to be part of it.