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Take Care of Yourself

Updated: Dec 5, 2020

I always have a few blog ideas up my sleeve. Sometimes they aren't published because they need to be developed further, sometimes it's because I feel like I'm not quite doing justice yet to the topic that I want to address and sometimes they aren’t published because it’s not quite the right timing. I started drafting this one last week, but the spark just wasn't there to give the right twist. The idea initially sparked from a quote that I saw on a brain injury online support group and I took good note of it thinking that it was a good quote to keep in the back of my mind.

Last week has actually been one of my best ‘health week’ in a long LONG time. Even other people commented on how well I was doing and for once, I was thinking they are so SO right. I was feeling good, I was bright and alert, I could sustain good conversations and I even felt like my energy levels were increasing. It was such a welcome change. I truly believed that my Weird Wonderful Brain had turned a corner and that things could only keep looking up from this point on.

So my first and foremost desire was to carry on with this upward curve. I therefore went for a quick training session on Saturday morning. My body was secretly suffering and had it not be from my training companion, I would have called it quit after 5 minutes, but I thought to myself, you’ve done great this week Véro, persevere a wee bit’s just a short training session anyways. My legs felt heavy, my chest felt tight, I was huffing and puffing, but I tried to ignore all those signs. I was on the upwards curve and it’s all that I chose to focus on. I survived the training session, had a quick shower and decided to carry on with the brunch plans that I had with some friends. I was looking forward to a meal out in good company so I decided to ignore the signs a little bit longer...I had managed so well this week right! Anyhow, I got to maybe 1/4 of the brunch okay and then I saw the clouds closing in on me. Gosh they were moving in fast. I often get asked if I can feel the crash coming and the answer is ABSOLUTELY. It’s hard to explain what it feels like to a non brain injury person, but I can only try.

When the clouds close in after a brain injury

Imagine that minute by minute, things start slipping away from you...your speech starts going wonky, you can’t see things that are right in front of you as clearly anymore as if you were in a heavy fog, you struggle to understand that is being said therefore you ask for people to repeat what they’ve just said, you struggle to regulate your body temperature, you struggle to follow the conversation, you start blanking out, you feel shaky, you feel out of breath (although you are pretty much sitting still) and then, you ultimately start removing yourself from life happening around you because your brain simply can’t keep up. Cognition is such a fragile thing for a #braininjurysurvivor. A brain injury is not something that I wish to anyone, but some days I feel like only those who have suffered one can truly understand what it feels like when, minute by minute, life is being sucked out of you. During the 15 minutes drive back (as shotgun) my brain flicked the switch to off.

By that point, the little brain energy I had left went into fighting back the tears. All I was thinking was "Here we go again, how much of a fool was I to think that I was turning a corner."

After 3 years of being stuck on this awful rollercoaster I should know better, I should have known that they were just a few good days. Once I got home, I pretty much headed straight into bed and each time I attempted getting up again, I felt just so SO weak. I hate that feeling. I know that I’m freaking strong and that I can bounce up again, but that feeling of weakness is a heavy one to carry when you have no mental energy left. Luckily, after 3 years I've learnt to stop pondering for too long on that feeling. First I need to recharge in order to be able to reset the switch back to on and to start chasing the clouds away. I spent a beautiful NZ spring afternoon in bed. After a while my partner popped his head in the bedroom to let me know that we had been invited to dinner at some friends for a BBQ (it was the absolute perfect day for it), but I just felt completely defeated still. I tossed whether to go or not to go for a while and then that quote I had read earlier in the week resurfaced. Now isn’t the time to try to push or suck it up. Even after a whole afternoon in bed my cup is still empty. Does it make me feel selfish to not even consider joining in? Of course and that's when other emotions started bottling up. I read the words again...there is actually 2 very important part to this quote and it's not at all about being selfish or not. In my current state, my presence isn’t going to add any value to anyone. I won’t be able to fill even a tiny portion of their cups because there is nothing left in mine and unfortunately, brain injury means that even with their outmost good will, they can't really help filling my cup either...not until rest prevails anyway.

So rest some more was the way to go. Tomorrow is a new day and hopefully the brain has bounced back a little by tomorrow. Perhaps if I work on refilling my cup today, I might be lucky enough to find some reserves in the tea pot tomorrow! Wait and see...

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