Wow. I had a topic for a post so I finally decided to come and write another post 10 months later - I've been avoiding my website since my big post in September. After everything I try to bring awareness to, I was still embarrassed by the bluntness and boldness of my previous topic. I basically felt like an ostrich with its head in the sand - if I avoid the website and the blog, it's like it didn't happen.
I just got around to reading some of the comments people left and it left me in tears. I don't even have the words to say how grateful I am for what my words have done for other people. It makes it feel worthwhile and like there is a purpose.
To say the least, I've come a long way since. I may have not gotten any better, am in fact even more symptomatic, and came online to talk about another sad topic, but the realization of how close I came to not being here is everything. It's like I blocked that period of my life out and revisit it very rarely. I think it's important to acknowledge it because it makes you that much more grateful for still being here and that much stronger for overcoming it - regardless of how much help you may require from family, friends, therapists, and support groups. Thank you for all of your words.
Today, I actually wanted to write about how cruel we are to ourselves. This goes for everybody, but those with brain injuries are that much worse because we feel threatened by our own existence, embarrassed, and limited due to the feeling that all that is left is a fraction of who we used to be.
I go to a support group every week for dealing with chronic illnesses and my therapist awarded me the "gold medal for negativity" towards myself. She was astounded by how good I was at turning everything around and beating myself up to no end. I tried explaining that to me it's not negativity - to me, it's reality.
When I call myself lazy for not getting up and walking the dog or doing the dishes because of a headache, I'm not just labeling myself and calling myself names; I'm stating a fact that I'm unable to do anything and am only good for hanging out on the couch.
When I call myself dumb because I can't take in any new information, I'm not just calling myself names, I'm finding a quick way to describe myself to those who don't understand. I have become ditsy and talk about silly things because as much as I want to, I can't take in new information about your job, current projects, or even the ever changing politics and news. I just can't keep up. To me it's reality, not just a reason to be "mean" to myself.
When I call myself fat, it's not because I'm obese, I understand I'm not. I am comparing myself to who I was when I could work out, be active, and have a healthy life.
Which brings me to when I call myself pathetic. It's not because I think I'm worthless, it's because I'm embarrassed I can't keep up with the life I had. I have to disappear into a bathroom for half an hour at a party, because that's the only place I can get some quiet. I feel pathetic because I'm a party pooper as opposed to the life of the party like back in the day. I feel pathetic because I have no career, let alone a job. I feel pathetic because I get shit-all done from day to day. I feel pathetic because for someone not doing anything all day, I sometimes can't even make dinner for my husband when he gets home from a long day at work. I feel pathetic because for someone who loved life, I escape it now by reading or watching tv and living a different life even if it's for one happy hour.
Yes, putting a label on it is wrong and dangerous. But I don't do it in a mean or spiteful way, I do it to describe the situation to really explain what it is we have to endure on a daily basis. I don't sit there on the couch and just say "may, you lazy pathetic person, you", I use it to explain to people who ask. Because how else do you explain what we are going through?
That said, having figured out the words I use to describe myself, it's brought attention to just how angry I still am regardless of how much I've tried to come to peace with it. I know the next step according to every self-help book is to substitute the mean things with the "realistic" nice thoughts. But how does saying "you're not lazy, you're fatigued from a head injury" or "you're not pathetic or a party pooper, you just need to get away and have some quiet time because it's too much stimulation" any better? For me, it's just softening the reality but not making it any more positive. But at the same time, I would never say these things to someone going through the same things. I would never call you lame or pathetic, so how is it we can be so "cruel" to ourselves? Are we not worth more than that?
If anyone has found peace and knows how to get around these thoughts - I'm all ears (or eyes, I guess). I am curious how you cope, and I am curious if you see this as negativity or realism?
This isn't my usual "I've overcome my shit and I'd like to help you" post, but am, in general, curious to hear your thoughts instead.
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2.5yrs into a concussion and I’m getting more symptomatic and less functional. I am so ‘locked inside myself’ in an identical fashion as you described above. I know what I want/must do/have to do…. but ‘just can’t’. The awareness of both is so entrapping.
I am 14 months post concussion and am just now starting, in small steps, to be kinder to myself. I can relate to everything you’ve said. I am so glad I found your site. It makes me feel less alone, and a little more normal. Thank you. :)