So as I enter into 2017 I’ve decided to have no expectations, I’ve tried to surround myself with love and positivity, and I couldn’t have wished to spend my first day in any other way, with my Headway family around me raising money for the charity that saved my life.
Fundraising for Headway New years Day at Barry island swim.
This year is all about helping raise awareness for brain injuries and those people who have suffered and struggled, along with their family members like I did, if one person can experience the benefit then I know that this has all been worthwhile.
How do you change the unchangeable? You can’t, you accept the unchangeable, change the changeable and remove yourself from the unacceptable.
Change is my biggest fear, it’s my biggest battle – a battle that I was unaware I was fighting, one that I had no control over. So how do you learn to accept and move forward? In my case I had no other option I was never given a chance to change or time to adjust to who I am now.
This time last year, I couldn’t wait to see the back of 2015 and welcome 2016 with open arms, I never believed that leaving hospital and starting my recovery was going to be harder than when I was in hospital. I believed I’d had all my bad luck, I was dealt a bad deck of cards and I was going to be able to hold my head up high and look forward to what this new life had to offer, this second chance and be thankful that I was here. Little did I know that 2016 was going to be more challenging than 2015 and it’s hard to believe I’m sat here telling you that my recovery is harder than the battle to survive.
The Big Expectation
I didn’t intend on ending my year the person I am today, I think I thought in my own way by now I would be back to ‘normal’, I say ‘normal’ but that normal or ‘old me’ is no longer in existence. At the time of my accident I was told that 6-12months is when I’d be driving, when I’d be back to work and completing normal day to day tasks, so in my head my expectations were that within 6-12 months of the accident the old me would be back.
The most frustrating part of a brain injury is that it doesn’t get fixed, it’s not a matter of in a certain time period you’re back to normal because there is never a ‘normal’ again AND no one tells you that!! No one prepares you that it’s a lifetime of adjusting to a new life, new you, if they did, I think my family and I would have handled it very differently.
My mum was the only person to fully understand that it can take 2 years for your brain to re-route its self, once you’ve caused damage to your brain that scar tissue will remain, your brain needs to relearn how to rewire the signals, it’s as if I’m lost in a country lane in the middle of no where instead of taking the main road!
I think at the time, whether the Drs were trying to protect my family members, or myself they said it was a case of here is a time scale and once you’ve reached that point you’re done. No one explained the effects it would have on my family and me as an individual, I look back over my recovery period and I had no chance in saving any of the old me. I understand that my recovery is in for the long haul, I get that now but I didn’t understand fully that when I had lost everything and I had hit rock bottom it could still get worse. I think what’s hard for anyone to really understand with brain injuries is it’s there for a life time, you will always have your injury and that’s scary, but you have to focus on how you manage yourself, adjusting to the new you and accepting this new life you now have.
I have a lot of TBI survivor friends that will ask the question: why did this happen to me? What did we do wrong? I wish I knew the answer but honestly I don’t believe in why me, I believe that life is about learning how to help others, if this hadn’t of happened to me I would never have met the amazing friends I have now, Headway and the people I’ve met through them are like my second family and I wouldn’t be here without them, I am so grateful for that.
I’ve been lucky enough that the experiences I have had through my recovery period as hard as they have been, I’ve been able to look back at them and learn from it. The heartache that I’ve been put through has given me strength to help others. I wouldn’t wish for anyone to experience what I have had to endure, to acknowledge the missing link in the system where by people who have experienced brain injuries and how they are left to live in an unfamiliar world isn’t fair.
Being a survivor of a TBI is being a warrior, the strength and determination to have the fight to continue with a debilitating and frustrating injury is admirable. It’s hard for anyone to understand from the outside how much pain you’re in, the constant fatigue you feel or not even being able to understand the mood you’re in because you can’t identify why you’re frustrated in the first place is so hard for anyone to understand.
I’ve been helping a number of survivors over the last couple of months, coming to terms with their injuries. I can’t say to you that I fully accept what’s happened to me or why it’s happened, but I can tell you that as soon as you learn to understand that you’re not on your own, life isn’t as lonely as it once was because there are people out there experiencing the same, it definitely feels like a weight has been lifted.
I’ve had to experience heartache after heartache this year, at that moment I honestly thought 2015 was the year that had thrown its worst at me, but 2016 has definitely taught me a lot about how to be strong when you feel you have nothing left to fight for, how to learn to try and love who you are even though you feel you’re unloveable, being grateful for what you have even if what you have is nothing but the love off your friends and family. It’s not about having materialistic things in life it’s about having experiences, as those memories are what last a life time. It’s also taught me that having my injury has changed me as person. I had hit rock bottom, when I believed I couldn’t get any lower in life than I had already had, but that experience has now taught me how to help others to not follow in my footsteps, I don’t want anyone who is suffering from a TBI to suffer alone, it’s just not fair. Like it wasn’t fair on my loved ones to pick up the pieces when they were unware of how to handle what had happen to me and who I became. Knowing now what I’ve been through, as awful as it was and what I have lost is horrible but that experience has made me certain that I will and can help others.
Over this last year, my recovery period was always that I needed my health to be my main priority; I physically couldn’t cope with juggling the other stress factors in my life. Before the accident I had always been 100 miles an hour kind of girl, I knew how to manage a full time job, my housewife duties, my hobby with cake making and all around my other daily life activities. The difference is now I simply CAN’T manage two things at once, some people may read this and feel even if they don’t have a brain injury they don’t know how to multi task which i can understand.
My multi tasking skills however are non existent, if you talk to me while you’re driving the radio has to go off, you text me or ring me everything else has to stop, my concentration levels have to be focused on one thing at a time. So when I’ve had to battle in trying to find me and who I am, with a divorce, losing a loved one, losing my job all alongside my rehab you can imagine just for one person it’s a lot to deal with.
sorry for putting me first
I never ever meant to be selfish per say; selfish to protect myself from getting hurt, by hurt I mean the pain I have felt in watching the old me wilt and instead having to concentrate on myself to get better. I had no chance of fighting for what I loved. How can I fight when I’m so physically and mentally drained and my whole body is fighting to heal its self?
I feel like I’m a bad person for putting my health first before anyone else, but there is no way I can even explain to you how it feels when this girl you’ve seen a picture of smiling who may look beautiful on the outside can’t even tell you how broken she is on the inside. I call myself a kinder egg… the amazing chocolate egg with the toy inside, that’s me but the only difference is I’m missing my prize. I’m empty, I’m hollow. I’m still wrapped up in my shiny foil with this whole egg milk chocolate on the outside and white inside… just I’m empty my prize is missing. I want to say I feel numb but I’m not sure if that sums it up really, I just know that my emotions, my everything that was me before is missing. Whether that will ever return I don’t know, it all depends if my brain will ever fix those missing links, right now for me it’s all about rediscovering who I am and trying to start from scratch and alongside this, helping others to do the same.
I know I still have a long way to go but I’m ok with that, I’m ok because I’m not going into this year with the expectations that I’m returning back to a life that was mine. I know longer have any expectations of what will be. I’m literally taking each day as it comes because that is as far as I can see and for once I’m happy about that. There will be no more let downs as I’m not setting myself up for a failure or trying to be someone I’m not. I’m just trying to find who i am now.
At least 2017 can be all about the surprises to see what it may bring.
lots of love from one TBI to another TBI xx