Saturday, July 28, 2012


After my accident, my brain changed. And consequently, my mind along with it. At the time, I was too stubborn and determined to slow down to notice any of it. I had to get back to work the next day so I could get paid, make sure all of my accounts were taken care of, and make sure that no one else at my company was inconvenienced. I also had a final to study for. And like all the finals before it, I was going to get an 'A.' No questions asked.

I was still drinking after work almost every night to wind down from the stress and the emotional taxation, so I didn't notice my inability to stay asleep for more than a few hours at a time. I also didn't notice my brain's inability to calm itself down and drift off into sleep without some sort of sedative as an aid. I didn't notice that I would wake up feeling unrested, as if I hadn't slept at all. I didn't notice the apathy, or the carelessness around my house, or the simple inability to wake up and find something joyful about the life around me. I noticed the dizziness, but I thought it was just because I was tired or exhausted. It was just my job and it would go away once the cause went away too. I don't remember if I noticed the nausea, but because it wasn't as bad as it was during the first week after the accident, I probably shrugged that off as exhaustion, too.

I didn't want to believe that there were going to be any consequences from a contusion, a concussion, a hematoma, and a scalp laceration. I'd stuffed down and ignored "the bad" and "pain" all my life; why should this accident and its aftermath be any different? Well, after I'd gotten all my 'A's' and quit the 'exhausting' job, I finally had to admit that something was different. I was different. And I was going to have to make peace with that and find different ways of doing what I had done for most of my life. And I was going to have to let go of some things, no matter how painful or how much of a struggle it would turn out to be.

When I started this blog, I wanted to give a voice to HSPs. But I am more than an HSP. I am also a traumatic brain injury survivor and so today I choose to bring a voice to that experience. I am not complaining. I know I am one of the 'lucky' ones. I am not in a coma, I am not in a hospital bed, I do not have to go through physical therapy sessions, I can still talk, and for the most part I can still think. Even if that 'thinking' is a little slower, a little more haphazard, and more frustrating when I can't quite be as 'sharp' as I used to be. But even the 'lucky' ones know the aftermath is still a struggle. You have to work slower, especially when it involves thinking, writing, or studying. You have to take many more breaks and sometimes you can only concentrate for a few minutes at a time.

Some things you can't control anymore. Like naps. You may have the intention of closing your eyes for only a few minutes, and then wake up 3 to 5 hours later wondering what happened. You want to find happiness and for a few moments you do. But then it's back to the irritation and the apathy, and the 'I just want to sleep and zone out.' Those 3-5 mile runs you used to go on? Maybe tomorrow you'll start. Maybe tomorrow you'll try walking instead. And sometimes you do. For weeks, even. But then you stop. You have to take a break. It's too much. The effort is too much. The effort of living is too much.

Not living, breathing, taking life in. No, it's the demands of living. The demands of 'our culture.' I finished a book this week about learning how to live and what's really important about living. It is only when we learn about 'dying' that we learn about 'living' is the gist of the lesson.

There are all kinds of death. There's physical, of course. And emotional; spiritual. But there's also the death of our self-concept. What we must do; what we must be; who we think we are by definitions and labels. It's all a bunch of nonsense. Silly, really. The truth is, we are everything. We will be everything. If not now, if not in this life, then soon. Pretty; ugly. Young; old. Ambitious; content. Self-serving; self-sacrificing. The list goes on.

Rebirth happens because we die. Is it something to fear? Is it something to avoid? Many of us try. Some of us eventually realize that love is what brings us back. It is what keeps us from staying away. It is why we come back.

And many of us soon find out that we're going to have to tell ourselves "I was who I was, but now I am simply something undefinable. I am simply life."


  1. I am just glad you are still here to share with us Helen. I know this has had to be a traumatic experience all the way around. Do not give up....the world needs your beautiful insight.
    God bless you. :-)