Archives for posts with tag: brain damage

Things have been so peculiarly perfect in some regards, it’s been easy to become complacent about how good life is day-to-day, and how content I feel, generally. Tactical error, I agree.

I woke groggy this morning, head pounding from the headache I spent the night with (not a metaphor – I wish it were). I woke with Pink Floyd in my head. I don’t know what that says about anything. I also woke feeling vaguely embarrassed and slightly ashamed of myself. No point to any of that, it’s just my demons enjoying their moment to shine. I’m over it already. Drinking coffee, beginning again.

Frustration is my kryptonite. Last night, yet again, the closed captions on YouTube videos were on (I don’t use them, haven’t turned them on). This has come up before. It frustrates me, and creates some internal resistance to conversation, some irritability, and causes me to question my sanity – and to feel as if my partner questions my competence, every time he seeks to help with this. Hell, depending on which device I access, the closed captions are not even turned on, at all. Glitch? Bug? Well, maybe, maybe not, but it irritates the hell out of me, and leaves me feeling as if the fucking internet is gas lighting me.

…Do you see where this is headed?

So… yeah. My partner offers to help. I perceive “a tone” (doesn’t matter whether there was a tone, it’s the perception that triggers the reaction, and I explicitly understand this). I react, rather childishly, and although it wasn’t any sort of “thing” really, it created an uncomfortable moment rich with hurt feelings on both sides. I could almost hear my fucking demons laughing their asses off. We got past that; we’ve been together too long, and worked too hard on our own issues, to let something so ridiculous ruin a lovely evening. My headache wasn’t helping. Still, the evening ended on a good note, affectionate, connected, and real. It wasn’t left to chance. I made a firm point of very specifically letting all that bullshit go, even announcing that it was my intention to do so – which is probably a weird thing to say out loud, however effective it may be. It was still some minutes before my chemistry began to return to some sort of normal. (I find it helpful to remind myself that as with ingested substances, our chemistry can provoke “a high” specific to the chemical involved, and the “come down” – both in intensity, and in duration – varies with the circumstances and with the chemistry.) I still felt a bit distant when I finally called it a night and went to bed. I wasn’t sure I’d sleep with this headache…

…I guess my headache got some sleep too; it’s ready for a new day, today. lol (groan)

I drink my coffee. Reflect on my good fortune. Take time for a moment of gratitude, and to appreciate my Traveling Partner; he “gets me”, and understands my issues nearly as well as I do myself. We do okay. Last night fell short of supremely awesome, but it was still spent in the good company of this human being I love. That definitely matters more than a moment of stress. Life is filled with moments. A few of them are going to be more challenging than delightful. That’s just real. I’m okay. There’s no lingering ill effect, which is lovely. This moment, right here, is just fine – aside from the headache, which will hopefully pass. My coffee is warm, and delicious. The workday ahead should be a more or less routine one. I decide to ride the light rail again this morning, for ease, and laugh at myself because I said as much yesterday, ended up driving in and parking on the waterfront. (Yep. In the minutes between deciding to take the train, and getting the car onto the street to go to the park-n-ride, I entirely forgot that was my intention. lol) This morning, I think I’m firm on the decision-making… I’m probably not; I’ll know when I get in the car and “feel the day”. Maybe a lovely drive before dawn on a Spring morning is exactly what this headache needs?

I smile, thinking about my garden. There are flowers sprouting in big colorful pots, already. A couple of the roses have buds on them. I came home yesterday to an excellent new hose, and a new spray nozzle, which delighted me greatly. I sip my coffee reflecting on that moment, and enjoying how well-loved I am, and feeling an intoxicating mix of gratitude and love for this human being who loves me so. I notice the time, and instead of rushing off promptly, I remember that my day needs to end a bit later than usual, and so I have time to linger. Feels good. I hear my partner stirring in the other room. Coffee together, too? Maybe so… Great start to the day.

I begin again. ūüôā

This morning is a very different morning than I had expected. I find myself sorely regretting allowing myself expectations, at all. I am struggling with this moment right here, when all evidence indicates that this moment right here isn’t a bad one taken in the context of nothing more than this moment.

I made a hash of the lovely morning I expected to be having with my partner. It’s that simple; a handful of insensitive words, poorly timed, and the whole thing goes sideways. Complicated fancy fucking monkeys. I feel frustrated with myself. Disappointed with the situation, and still struggling just to get a grip on the sudden spilling over of needlessly intense emotions into every damned thing. My demons dance happily in my tears; today they won. Now my head aches, and I can’t seem to stop these loathsome tears from falling. I am angry with myself for lacking ‘control’ – as if forcing myself to feel specific emotions, or display them quite correctly based on some set of rules, is the point of this whole mess. (It isn’t.) I am disappointed to have hurt my partner’s feelings – and being a fucking primate, I am admittedly even more disappointed to have blown my chances at having sex today. (We’re really good at it together, and I like it just about more than anything else, and it has become a rare thing for a number of reasons, not the least of which are¬†simply geographical distance and calendar conflicts.) I am filled with regret and sorrow – which is a completely shitty emotional experience.

At least for the moment, I have lost touch with my sense of purpose or of progress. I feel stalled. I feel overwhelmed.

Getting it wrong first thing can be hard to take, but there is still a whole day ahead to work with. Choose.

Getting it wrong first thing can be hard to take, but there is still a whole day ahead to work with. Choose.

…We didn’t even finish our coffees together; the realization launches a flood of new tears, and they cascade down my cheeks, hot, plentiful, and resented. I cry more when I notice that I forgot to ask him to help me put on my locket; my fingers haven’t successfully worked the clasp for two days now, and I ache with a strange subtle hurt every time I notice I am not wearing it.

He didn’t leave me alone like this willingly. I sent him away. I write those words through even more tears. What the fuck is wrong with me? I don’t¬†feel any sense of the progress made over time. I seem unable to¬†connect with how good I have felt lately, or how well-loved. I feel cut off from intimacy – and it’s self-inflicted, a byproduct of the combination of my chaos and damage, and an injury so old I don’t understand why am still dealing with it¬†now. ¬†I am child-like with my misery, weeping unreservedly until I’m all cried out.

Sometimes it's hard to focus on the distant horizon when the shadows and silhouettes of the chaos and damage seem so near.

Sometimes it’s hard to focus on the distant horizon when the shadows and silhouettes of the chaos and damage seem so near.

The phone rings. He reaches out to tell me it wasn’t all me, and it’s a message I need to hear. I don’t understand it as a given that when we interact we’re both in it, both involved, both using verbs – and¬†words. We both forget about my injury – and the unfortunate resulting lack of impulse control, and the peculiar communication challenges that are much more significant when I am first waking up. He’s gentle with me over the phone, reassuring, reminding me that love is, and that he loves me; this is a shared journey, as much as any journey can be. I still have this headache. It will pass. I will be okay – I am, in fact, actually okay in this moment right here. I make a point of expressing appreciation that I am able to [emotionally] safely and comfortably ask him to go when I need to take care of me – that’s not something everyone has in their relationships. I still feel like a dick for being insensitive and hurting his feelings; it is irrelevant to feeling hurt whether that hurt was delivered willfully or cluelessly. Hurting hurts.

So. Here I am, alone, and mostly feeling pretty crappy with an entire autumn weekend stretching before me, nothing on my calendar, no plans, nothing that much gets my attention to do with my time; this is not a weekend to be running away from me with entertaining distractions. I’ve logged off of Facebook. Logged off of my social media accounts. No announcement or vaguebooking statement required; I am just taking some time for quiet and stillness. There are very few¬†things that help with this particular shit storm of emotional disregulation; meditation is the most powerful tool in my arsenal, alongside cannabis. My Love arrived before I had time for either, and before my prescription Rx for my pain management, or my thyroid condition had time to be effective. The timing of his visit was itself enough to increase the risk that something would go wrong. We both know a lot about my limitations in that first 90 minutes or so after I wake; we made choices based on how much we miss each other, how much we want each other, and the convenience of opportunity. ūüė¶

I am still working on me.

I am still working on me.

I’m not writing all this down to evoke pity or sympathy – if you find yourself feeling either, I thank you for your good nature, and your concern. I’m okay – well, I feel pretty ick right now, but I will be okay. I am taking the time to share this for two reasons: the most important and first reason is that ‘using my words’ is a perspective-providing tool that tends to most efficiently help me dial down the ferocity of my emotions. I make an effort to be quite clear, and reasonable, and careful to be truthful, accurate, and fair to other people when I write a blog post. When I write in my private journal, I am more prone to spiraling negative self-talk, or skewed perspective that can be punishing, or accusatory – neither is helpful, and both have the potential to build damaging narrative that fuels drama. The second reason to take the time to write about the hard stuff, the bullshit, the hurting, and the chaos is also about perspective; it’s not easy to cope with and rehabilitate a brain injury, and it’s not easy working through the hurting of PTSD. ¬†There are verbs involved. My results vary. Change and growth over time are incremental…and sometimes the increments are fucking small. It can be very discouraging, and I think there is value in being real about the work involved. It won’t always be easy – it may not ever be easy – but there is value in trudging through, practicing the practices, and beginning again when I falter. (You, too.)

I’m fortunate to have such a strong partnership with someone who really does love me supporting me emotionally through all this, and realistically I can’t help but be aware that there is some risk this love won’t survive my struggles; at some point it may really just be too much to ask. That’s part of what hurts so much; there’s no knowing with certainty when that point has been reached, until I get there. Scary.

Begin again.

Begin again.

Today is a good day to take care of this fragile vessel, and to take another step on this journey; the steps add up. Today is a good day to begin again.

I woke with a pounding headache this morning, and thinking fretfully of subtly out-of-reach goals. My dreams are gone and forgotten, leaving only hints that they were uneasy. I feel well-rested, but there’s this headache.

Do fish get headaches?

Do fish get headaches?

The workday begins.  I feel distracted and disconnected, thinking more of the evening to come, and the homecoming of a partner who has been away for many days and returns with a travelers tales of adventure, misadventure, and love.  Exciting!

There’s little enough to say until after the stories are told, shared, savored, and stored away for another day. ¬†Then next week, I travel, myself. ¬†It is a busy spring.

I have the sense there is more to say, that there was something queued up in my consciousness that needed some time, some consideration, some words… gone now, if it ever really was. ¬†Two oddities of my TBI are the way it affects my sense of ‘novelty’ and ‘completion’. ¬†I sometimes¬†struggle for hours trying to remember “that important thing/idea I was in the middle of before I got interrupted” – it often turns out that it was simply something momentarily engaging like a commercial, or a slogan, or a phrase of poetry in my head that was stuck on a sort of loop, and when I finally do recall whatever it was, it not only isn’t ‘important’ – it isn’t relevant or even slightly interesting. ¬†The novelty thing is different, equally ‘quirky’ and annoying. ¬†I sometimes experience things as novel that I’ve known or been doing for a long while, or used to do a lot and gave up, then returning to it find it feeling completely new. ¬†I get the reverse, too, where I don’t at all recognize something as entirely new, and never-before-experienced. That has some problematic moments, since it can occasionally result in having the perception that I know someone and just don’t remember their name, when actually we’ve never met at all and they are an un-vetted stranger. ¬†Having a brain injury results in some peculiar vulnerabilities.

In the news, I found some amusement – and offense, let’s be honest – in stories about Karl Rove doing old-fashioned bias-based mudslinging, using the potential for having had a brain injury as an insult. ¬†I almost missed the open insensitivity and contempt it indicated for the wide variety of talented people who do live as survivors of brain trauma, I was laughing so hard. ¬†Seriously? How is brain damage – with no other information – even an issue? Will candidates now have to have scans to prove their brain is fully healthy and intact? What will happen to congress then? (You should be able to hear my eyes rolling from where you’re sitting, if you’re quiet. lol) It’s been clear for a very long time that critical thinking, a good education, and the will to serve the people of this country are not common characteristics of politicians, and as with the rest of the population, the intellectual and cognitive gifts of legislators are not evenly distributed. lol

Brain injuries aren’t actually uncommon, according to my reading. Very serious ones are less common, but how many people get through childhood without banging their head badly enough to get a concussion? Turns out that’s a bigger deal than we knew. ¬†Football players – there are a few there – boxers, really any contact sport has the potential – and how many jobs are out there where a blow to the skull is a known potential risk? Soldiers surely come to mind, so many come home with a TBI, that ‘TBI’ is now a pretty commonly known acronym; ¬†it wasn’t before the modern wars in the Middle East. ¬† So, if a TBI isn’t particularly uncommon, in one form or another, how is it okay to use that as an insult? ¬†It isn’t.

“Brain damage” isn’t actually a joke.

A good day for exploring the possibilities.

A good day for exploring the possibilities, and looking at things from a new perspective.

Today is a good day for compassion. Today is a good day to welcome someone home. Today is a good day to accept differences and commonalities. Today is a good day to understand that we are each having our own experience.  Today is a good day to love.