I can't believe I haven't posted in just over 2 years. What the heck is up with that? Well, I'll tell you the last two years have had me on a world-wind of activity and changes. Hauling around a brain that doesn't like a lot of stimulation, multi-tasking and lack of sleep, is not good.
My husband and I bought a house in April of 2016 that needed work. My TBI occurred in May of 2016.....guess how those renovations on the new house have been going for the past 7 years. Yup. Very slowly and often painfully. You'll understand why in a minute.
I was always the project manager prior to my TBI. Type A, Getter-Done kinda gal - that's me. Still Type A in spirit but not in action anymore. It's a deeply frustrating way to live when you can't keep up with who your spirit really is.
The pandemic was actually a great experience for me. I know that sounds terrible. How was it for you? Man, I quickly found out how wonderful it was not have to "be in the world" and how much my brain liked that. The isolation really didn't bother me. At first it was a bit weird but as soon as I began feeling less anxiety everyday......the anxiety that I lived but did not "experience" like others around me experienced my anxiety-driven behavior.....I began getting glimpses of my old self. Brain rest is a real thing with a head injury. If you are like me and push against slowing down after your TBI, the pandemic was a real learning & healing experience.
After all that "rest" during the pandemic, my husband and I made the decision that I could handle having our kitchen and a bathroom remodeled, finally. I spent months slowly planning, designing, interviewing contractors....going over things again and again and again to make sure I wasn't missing anything. I ordered materials, supplies etc., months before we started. Booked the contractors 6 months in advance. And my husband reviewed everything to make sure I hadn't missed anything. Remember I am (was) also an interior designer and experienced renovator.
This wasn't my first rodeo.
Well, tell that to my brain. I was 5 years post TBI at the time. I thought if I spread all the work out over double the estimated timelines....took it really slow, I would do well.
Well, folks, I got a "Face-Plant" experience of "looking fine is not being fine", all over again.
I had panic attacks.....dizzy spells....rages....migraine headaches and body pain where I could barely get out of bed. All because my poor brain was clearly letting me know that I was not anywhere near healed enough to handle a quarter of the work, let alone the entire project.
It was a deeply disturbing time. I had up-ended my apple cart. I thought I was healing...well, more. A lot more.
Here's the thing about TBIs that no one says out loud:
After a TBI, our brains spend the rest of our lives healing.
One of my neurology specialists told me that years ago and I thought she was full of crap. I found that statement insulting, depressing and outlandish.
Surely our brains get back to 100%?
Our brains get better in some ways and remain taxed in others. Like a bum knee from an old sports injury. That injury is always a concern under certain circumstances and you have to be aware of it going forward so as not to injure it again.
The pandemic was good for my brain....the quiet, the lack of stimulation, the extra rest.
The renovation was not good for my brain......it showed me that I still have a journey ahead and likely for the rest of my life.
I've struggled with this "Face Plant" of knowledge. I wish it was different.
But wishing isn't going to get me to a place of happiness or joy.
And I don't like that. I press against "acceptance". That's always been my personality. Acceptance feels weak or lacking. If there's an obstacle, I push to find a way around or through it. I persevere - always.
Brain injuries don't work that way. There's no way around it.
So what the feckt do we do, then? Become a monk? Shave my head and chant for 7 hours a day? Uh, no. Not gonna happen.
Cliches are so annoying. Too often they are rooted in truth.
So what have am I doing to better my situation, my brain?
Going to sleep on a regular schedule and being okay with it. I am more of a late owl since my TBI. I go to bed at 11:30pm and get up at 7am. A lot of the time it's a bit of a struggle to stay up that late but I found that when I do, I actually feel more rested. I have to stop listening to the voice in my head saying "early to bed, early to rise". Give that shit up. Do what works for you. And if it changes over time, flips, whatever - that's okay.
I set up a meal delivery service. I just can't handle planning meals. You might say - well, who does? I did. And I enjoyed it and did it well...pre-TBI. No more. I don't even crave vegetables or fruit anymore and that is NOT good. It's weird. I don't get it. Nutrition plays an important role in our overall well being. Throw a TBI into the mix and there's a potential for notable increase in issues. Healing brains consume a great deal of nutrients. Good fats and protein. Lower carbs. I just can't manage all that prep and calculation anymore. I/We (my husband included) eat better when the meals are delivered and ready to make. Veggies included. And I drink those whole food drinks daily....something like Huel or AG1. It just needs to be a quality whole food based product. It's made it easy for me to get better nutrition.
Exercise. I was once a very active female. Now my body hurts in ways I could never have imagined. I put on 20 pounds and can't get my energy levels up enough to engage. On most days the "why" of it, is a mystery. My docs say that it's very common to have high levels of body pain after a TBI. The neuro-pathways get damaged and the brain/body communication gets "screwed up". One can feel a great deal of pain and there may not be an actual injury in that area, like in the hip joints. It can also be driven by excess inflammation - prompted by the TBI. Those toxins like cortisol get built up on our systems and elevate inflammation. Not good....at all. I have become friends with yoga and pilates instructors on YouTube. It's free. I don't have to schedule it - the studio is always open. So when my squirrel brain and memory issues rear their ugly heads, I don't have to miss out. But, I do still miss a-lot of days. I just try to stop that annoying voice in my head that keeps telling me that I'm not doing enough or right and just do it as often as I can.
As for stress..... That's one that I have not found the secret sauce for yet. I can't control the a-holes of the world, no matter how much my stress-triggered brain would like to. Actually, my TBI "angry brain" would like to punch most people but that's not exactly a good path to a joyful life. That's called jail time. My social world has gotten very small. I struggle with accepting that. I used to like being a social butterfly. Now, not so much. The world is angry. People are angry. I don't want to be angry. Anger is not a TBIs friend. If anyone has some easy suggestions, other than isolation, please let me know.
Is this some sort of New Year's resolution rant? Uh, no.
It's just a co-incidence that I'm in a quiet place right now and want very much to get back to writing.
I have a great deal to share that has built up from the past two years.
I want to get back into the grove of things.
It's taken me over 5 years just to figure out my TBI self-care for Pete's sake. I hope you have figured out yours.
And why not now? It's January. It's cold. It's like winter..... It's an okay time to be "wintering" and figuring out how to change the things we want to change in preparation for something good/better.....without feckting resolutions.