2

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.

 

8

Dug from the rubble

It’s 11 months today since my operation. Nearly a year has passed, this is a reason to rejoice, it means it’s getting further away but its also a time to be aware. Anniversaries of such things are often triggering and can cause pain.

I am very deep into the grieving process now. I am finally getting angry, I hate my TBI, I hate what it has done to my life and I hate what my life has now become. I hate that my days are long and boring and sad.

The journey of recovery is not simple as I’ve mentioned before, but the bit that hurts like a very deep soul pain is the re-emergence of symptoms you thought you had dealt with. TBI is the gift that keeps on giving, you don’t get anxious or depressed once, deal with it and hey ho off we go! These states can return out of the blue and as many times as they see fit. You don’t peel a layer of the onion and get a nice fresh one until you eventually reach the middle. The TBI onion has no middle, it just keeps peeling.

onion of recovery

I’ve just come out of the tail end of a crippling bout of anxiety. It lasted about 6 days. I would wake through the night scared. I would wake in the morning already shaking and sweating. I was full of fear. Scared of ‘out there’, something intangible I couldn’t put my finger on but I absolutely knew it was out to get me. I was exhausted. I caved and went to the GP and got some magic tablets. You see TBI is not just the injury, it’s the PTSD, the grieving process and the depression. A mixed bag of fun that stops you just bloody well getting on with things.

I’m currently in a crying phase of grief, a full on all out display of ugly face blubbing. It’s good to release it, I need to, but it’s inconvenient and it hurts and it’s the loneliest thing in the world. The crying releases the grief so I shouldn’t suppress it and it can be seen as a positive thing but why does something positive have to be such a pain? Anything positive about this process hurts, it’s gut wrenching and hard.

I’m feeling sorry for myself right now, I am at a point where I can’t see a way through and I feel that I’m going to be ill forever. The only thing I can do is tell myself I’ll be ok (even if I don’t believe it). Otherwise I may just give up.