I keep being reminded of how far I have come and how much I have progressed, I know what you must be thinking... she must have been nuts before if she's this bad now. Well, I suppose I'm still nuts but not as nutty as I was at the beginning!
After all the help I've been given and that I continue to receive, I have progressed. I couldn't leave the house at the beginning and now you can't keep me in, I even take myself off to London for appointments now. I had lost all confidence but now I've got that back, on September 12th 2015 I am doing an 80 metre free-fall abseil down the Orbit structure in Olympic Park, London, this is the tallest free-fall abseil in the UK and I'm doing this to raise money for the Headway group that I volunteer at. A year ago, I wouldn't even have been able to consider this. In general I am in a better place and I can look at my problems differently, I have learnt to cope.
I wrote a lot of things down in the couple of months after my accident, before my 1st follow up appointment and before I knew that I had a Brain injury. What I've got written down makes me very emotional when I read it now, I can't believe that it was me that wrote it, I obviously thought I was going mad and had no idea why. It's when I read all this that I realise how far I've really progressed; here are some of the statements that I wrote in the book from the period January-March 2014.
Why is it January 2014? It's only meant to be 7th December 2013. What happened?
My house feels strange, I know that it is my house but it feels like I've been away. I feel like a visitor and I'm not comfortable here.
Horrible feeling that I don't belong or fit in. Everyone and everything is still the same but I'm different and I don't know why.
I'm never here! It's like I'm standing outside looking through the window and watching myself try to be normal.
I'm not here 100% and I'm aware of that.
Feel like I need to go and stay somewhere unfamiliar where there won't be any reminders of the real 'me', just stay in that unfamiliar place until I'm better.
It's like I dreamt the past 2 days but I'm not sure about any of it. Anything that is 1 or 2 days in the past doesn't exist in my head.
Everyone is carrying on like normal but how am I meant to live my life? I don't know how to and I can't because not all of me is here.
Is it possible to cry forever? I think I could.
Looking at the pictures of me in the living room, I don't recognise 'her'. That person isn't here anymore, that used to be me. I want to take the pictures down because if I can see that's not me anymore, everyone else can see it too.
I dread going to bed because tomorrow will come quicker. Tomorrow means I will have to go through this hell all over again.
Everything is shit! I can't do anything to make any of this better.
Will I ever be able to stop writing in this book? How messed up will my life be if I'm like this all the time?
These are just a small amount of the things I had written, the book that I wrote in is pages and pages long and none of it is positive.
But I did stop writing in this book so that is progression in itself. I can relate to some of the things in the book, just not as extreme as what I felt then. I now have weeks of memory and not days, I can go to bed without dreading tomorrow, I feel more comfortable in myself and I don't want to cry forever, I don't really want or need to cry at all. Yes, I still have my issues and challenges but I'm learning to cope with them now as frustrating as they can be. I can't crumble, this is not going away and I need to get on with it.
This is not the end of my story, it's just the beginning. If you have read all of this you were probably hoping that this was the end, unfortunately for you I will be writing more! I will probably have forgotten things plus I will write about the next stages in my life and anything that I find important.
I will continue to volunteer at the Headway group, I've come to the conclusion that everyone with a Brain injury is normal and everyone without one is mad, we don't need help everyone else does.
I have learnt that a Brain injury is permanent, changes are permanent, it changes your life completely and you don't get 'better', but you can't let it define who you are. You have to learn to cope and adapt and take on new challenges that you might never have considered before. Everyone will continue to think that you are 'better' and back to the normal you just because you look ok, let them think that.
People will be critical, ignorant and not willing to understand or even try but that is their problem and their loss. A Brain injury is an invisible injury and that is difficult to come to terms with but maybe one day people will realise that just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it isn't there. You can't let it get you down if people don't understand or accept that, you are worth 10 of them and their opinions. It's so difficult at the beginning but things do get better, I heard a statement a while back that I've kept hold of as it meant something to me, it's so true-
I AM LOST
I've gone to look for myself
If I should return before I get back, please ask me to wait.
This is exactly how you will feel sometimes, like you have gone missing. You will only feel like this sometimes but not all the time. You just have to think about how much you have gone through, probably more than most people could handle, but you made it and you are still here. I'm still trying to figure out if my Brain hates me, even though I'm 19 months in I'm told that it's still early days for me. Just like an X Factor contestant, I am on a journey but unlike them, my journey will be a long one. It's not always going to be easy, I will continue to learn about the new me and try and make the best of it.
Despite your problems, live each day as the new you and be proud. The new you might even turn out to be better than the old you.
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