LIVNG WITH A BRAIN INJURY – the OLD and the NEW
One of the biggest struggles I used to have was trying to figure out my limitations. Who is this new Vicki? What are my limitations? Strengths and weaknesses? At times I still find it hard knowing what I can do and what I can’t do, but it is getting better. One of my biggest struggles I have now is how others perceive me. I certainly can understand their confusion. At times I seem on top of my game.
Other times and often behind closed doors, I am anxious and exhausted. I get mixed up and scattered. ALWAYS I know why?
- I am tired
- I am stressed or worried about family/friends
- OR others expect things from me that I cannot give…(time, visits, phone calls etc.).
It is not that I don’t want to, I just can’t.
I truly believe that my new calling is to write messages and share my knowledge and experience living with a brain injury. I also believe that what I have learned is applicable to many people in different situations.
Someone who has lost a spouse struggles to figure out their new life alone. They struggle with “how they fit in” with friends.
Someone who has had a heart attack or is living with a newly diagnosed illness are grieving what they used to do, and trying to adjust to their “new normal”.
Someone who has recently retired from work, typically struggle with identity. If I am not working, “what is my purpose?”, is a question often asked by retirees. They have lost their routine, their workmates, their importance and their income.
All of these examples require us to re-evaluate our life and try our best to adjust to our new normal. Knowing what I know, it is also a HUGE ADJUSTMENT for family and friends.
Those on the periphery also need time to adjust to the change in their loved one. With friends it is the same. I once was a social butterfly and loved gatherings and parties and dances, as did Dan. However it is no longer possible for us. For Dan it is his mobility and pain. He cannot sit anywhere a really long time and he tires easily. For me, it is often confusion. Too much stimulation and by the next day I am exhausted.
I am exhausted because my brain has had to work overtime to follow conversations, focus on people while at the same time, trying to filter out background noises and irrelevant stimuli. (which by the way is something most brain injured persons cannot do). Most of us can no longer multi-task which makes sensory overload very real and very exhausting.
I am very blessed with the people I have met from the Brain Injury Association in Prince Edward Island. I am very blessed with a group of friends and acquaintances who have taken the time to ask questions, do research and listen. I am very blessed with extended family who are going through the same thing and find my writings helpful.
At the end of the day, Brain Injuries do not magically disappear after a few years. They are life altering and some are worse than others.
My news is OLD (Feb. 21, 2012). But things continue to change and evolve into the NEW.
Some NEW realizations have been wonderful.
Others have been disappointing. I expect as I wrap this up, that I will have more stories to share in the future.
TO MY FELLOW BRAIN INJURY SURVIVORS…
We are on this walk together. From near and afar. 💜❤️💜. Thinking of you. Vicki