“Strengths grows in the moments when you think you can’t go on but you keep going anyway.”
Strength, what would you describe strength as? To me it varies, I would never class myself as a strong person, I’ve been told that the strength I have to keep going, to handle what I have been through and still be standing, where others wouldn’t leave the house or would crumble: – is inspiring!
“Inspiring” is a big word, for me strength within a person is about their character.
Who am i?
I would never intentionally call myself a strong person, it’s not a case of saying that my character is strong; it’s all about how you handle yourself. There are times where the fight is so hard I honestly want to curl up in a ball and never move again. There are times where I’ve had to question who I am because I couldn’t understand why I was being tested over and over again. I’ve questioned myself because, I thought that maybe I was a bad person and that really I deserved to have what’s happened to me because of what I have done or who I am or was, but if I were to say that; this has happened to me because I’m a bad person or that I’ve brought it on myself then what kind of a person am I?
I can’t answer that question if I’m a bad person or not, because I’m still learning who I am. I shouldn’t have to justify myself in trying to learn a new normal for me. I also shouldn’t have to battle the judgements I face every day, but at some point I have to learn that if I allow myself to feel the pain of what others say then it’s their characters they should be questioning not mine.
I still after all this time get mimicked by how I talk, I can’t even say to you it’s how I look because I’ve recently had it on a phone conversation where I was asked “sorry is this a bad line or just how you talk?”
I want to say by now I’m used to it, but I would be lying.
I do on occasions rely on the help of others who are with me to talk for me, that’s completely understandable but now I feel that I’m losing confidence in myself because of how others act.
The words “keep going anyway” is exactly how you read them. Maybe that’s the strength people must talk about to me, because I can’t just allow myself to stop fighting.
I feel I’m in auto pilot, I’ve become numb to it all. If I look back to last March- May 2016 time, I was so desperate to be who I used to know, wanting the life I used to have, or able to feel any kind of emotion. I know now I was spiralling out of control and looking back I know I wasn’t well.
I look back to that time and I was completely on my own battling away to a point that by July time I felt I wasn’t going to make it. This is when I had to take a good look at my life and myself and accept that I’m never going back to the Zalehka I once knew,and that looking back would never take me forward. I’ve had to accept that my brain injury and I are going to have some hiccups, I’ve had to accept that I can’t say yes to everything, that there is no such thing as GETTING better, it’s all about managing and learning to deal with things differently and actually that’s ok! Maybe that’s why people believe I’m strong because whatever life has thrown at me I’m always going to keep fighting.
I’ve been told that I have zero empathy, I realised that my emotions had been affected with the injury but not quite to what extent. I may seem ungrateful at times or not seem as if I am excited about a particular occasion, I’m not, it’s just I don’t know how to feel those feeling’s. It must be very frustrating for people around me to understand as they might see me laugh or smile but on the other hand if they were to ask me about going somewhere or doing something and they would have a dead pan answer back.
I’ve heard it’s really common with brain injuries and it coincides with my lack of taste and smell.
There is no drive or desire within me to want to eat or even quite often do anything physical. I hardly eat. Fact. I’ve spoken openly about it, I make a joke of it. People ask me if I’m hungry my answer is no, but if you want food then fine I’ll eat. In my head I know it’s wrong and I understand what I need to do, I know how to cook, I was actually a really good cook, but my brain doesn’t allow me to tell my body I’m hungry. It’s only if someone asks me “have I eaten?” will I realise it’s been a day or two that I have not had food. It’s so hard for my head to even make that decision because if you put food in front of me the battle to actually eat is awful. I can’t get myself to do it. I know I need to look after myself but I have zero empathy about it too it’s like I don’t care, I know its wrong and I should say “come on Zalehka sort it out” it’s getting to a point I’m doing more harm to myself. I’m in talks now about it, to sort it out because the effects on my body and well being are far from positive, thankfully my rehab team is now focussed on fixing and or helping me to relearning how to talk to my body.
I feel I’m learning more new things about myself, apparently this new Zalehka is very competitive and have no tolerance to certain things, and I have zero patience. I knew my filter was damaged as my family would highlight certain things but apparently it’s beyond the character that I once was. It’s even become a joke to my Mums friends as they now refer to it as “I nearly had a Zalehka moment” I’m not sure whether to take offence or be ashamed of myself but quite frankly I actually don’t care. When I list these new ‘ME’s’ I feel I don’t like the sound of that person. At the same time my short term memory is so bad that if someone was to tell me I did one of the above I actually would find it hard to believe that I did that I worry mostly that this new person won’t be accepted.
Being accepted brings me onto my next challenge, I’ve lost my confidence in so many ways that not only am I leaning on others to help me talk but facing the day to day battles I have been through in my recovery period has made me question whether I will ever be accepted as just me?
Dating with a brain injury…
That’s a statement I never thought I would say. It’s a subject I never really thought about or anything that I even considered.I feel I’m at a point in my life where at this age you expect to have achieved a lot, especially as a women you set your life goals and then put pen to paper, the story book that I had envisioned for my life doesn’t exist. The story just ends. The happy ending I pictured isn’t there, you have no paper left to finish the story you were so desperate to write.
I’m now starting a new chapter or even a new book, however the author writing this book is unaware of how to put the pen to paper. I’ve spoken about how numb about my emotions I feel but it doesn’t take away the pain of not achieving the life goals that I once upon a time desired.
The girl who is standing here is armed with a strong network of friendship groups and family members, but I’m constantly being told that I’m still young enough to start again. That statement in itself is like a knife that has been gently twisted in my side. I understand I am very lucky to have the support I do and very positive that yes, I can start again but it comes at a price.
Before my accident I was told that I wasn’t ambitious enough and my work ethic wasn’t as proactive as ones should be, and that a desire to settle and have a family isn’t the only thing I should be aiming for in life. I come from a big loving family where cousins, brothers and sisters are all the same blood and brought up as one. There is a history in the second generation that a family is proving to be more of a miracle than one would wish for, and consequently to have children would be the best gift life can give and I’d like to think many women out there would agree. To have my ability as the person I was and one that someone should have loved, knocked me sideways, to question the character that made me instantly made me look at myself.
So when I had the accident and was unable to talk or walk the whole time I was recovering in hospital all I kept thinking of is how can someone accept me for who I am now when I’m different to the girl I was before? The girl I was before had a lot going for her. I was young, I was very good at my job, I had a life that I could have coped with on my own but now with the accident I was different. I could hardly string a sentence together, I struggled massively with walking and instead of worrying about how I was going to get better all I focused on was how would I be loved or accepted like I am when I was broken and I wasn’t accepted as the girl I was before.
Being on my own has never fazed me; I’m not that type of girl where I cannot be alone for one second and I believe in a healthy balanced life style. I honestly believe in the saying you can’t be truly happy until you’re happy with being on your own. There’s a difference in being lonely and wanting to be with someone or being truly happy with yourself and added to that happiness with someone else, but the thought of dating, well it puts me off completely. How will anyone like me for who I am now? Is that an insecurity? I don’t know.
I’ve feel I have accepted who I am now, I know in the small amount of time since the accident my speech has improved but clearly not enough. The thought of even speaking on the phone and getting the question “sorry is this a bad line or is this how you talk?” makes me wonder how am I ever going to meet anyone? I dread people’s reaction to me, even talking to someone who deals with brain injures I still get the comment “but you look no different” I’ve completely lost my confidence in who I am, my speech, my fatigue, my everyday battle with my injury and I wonder how will anyone want to be a part of that, it’s a whole other level of baggage.
It’s sad because I could say I’m fine about being on my own, and I mean I am FINE about being on my own, but what’s hurtful is how something has defined my life and has knocked me for who I was before. I don’t just mean the accident, I understand this journey is a long one and one that some people don’t want to be a part of, I get that but what I don’t get is now its made me feel that because I have an injury, I have hospital appointments and everything else it might be something that people won’t accept.
These days our lives revolved around technology, I panicked on a Saturday night out with friends when someone stood on my phone and I genuinely felt my life drifted away!! How sad is it that we are in a world where our phone is the only form of communication with the outside world!!
Dating apps these days for the so-called ‘youngsters’ are Tinder, Bumble or Happn. When a very close friend of mine decided to join, I couldn’t think of anything worse, yet later on I found myself curious as to what these apps had to offer. It’s worse than a cattle market!! I’m sorry if I offend anyone who has found amazing relationships from them but for myself how can I possibly be in this situation.
I may take a great photo but how does that portray whom I really am? I’m always saying throughout my blogs that I get very upset how people judge me for my appearance and yet now I don’t want to get judged by a good looking photo I’ve uploaded? The thought of having someone say no because when they’ve met me and realised actually she talk’s funny or has medical needs I can’t handle it, its worse than the thought of my divorce. It’s rejection all over again and I didn’t fit the mould before I had the accident, I was forever trying to change to whom I was to fit in.
I feel like I am contradicting myself as I want brain injuries to be acknowledged and I want more awareness from people that don’t understand how hard is it for survivors, but I also want to feel like someone can accept me for who I am now, or even if you knew me from before and you loved that person you should still love me for who I am now.
I’m not saying I want a relationship with someone because I’m very aware of how bloody hard work I am and the funny part is I was hard work before so, god help who ever decides to take that challenge on! It’s just how society has become that I feel like no one can accept a girl with a stammer, a brain injury, and who used to be married, can I even expect to have a normal life? It feels so unfair.
My health was always my main issue and my health is still my main issue, my question is and what I wonder is, how will who I am now effect my life in the future?
I have a lot of TBI friends by whom their partners have stood by them, watch them change uncontrollably before their own eyes with zero control in helping them, it’s just unravelled before them. I can’t imagine the pain one must feel in seeing a loved one become someone else. Seeing their daily struggle and pain they are in, is not only hard on the individual but it must take control over how their loved ones feel and it changes everyone within a family unit. The ones that are with them through it all must feel almost broken in a way as well, they might not fully understand the pain you go through but it must be hard on them as well.
I will never fully understand what it’s like on the other side, just like others won’t fully understand how i feel with my Brain injury unless you are battling too. I’m just hoping that one day my baggage won’t become too much to handle for someone else. I know i’ve already lost a lot in the process but i am trying my hardest to become a better person. i’ve had to learn to understand that there is no magic wand and that this is now apart of my life, i’m happy with that, i’ve accepted it and in time it should accept me.
Do I believe I’m ready for the next step probably not, but I do believe there’s no harm in trying to have more friends? I know I’ve lost my confidence and my Mum says I’ve lost my sparkle but sitting with two very close friends of mine and telling them how I felt they made me see differently.
I feel I can’t talk to someone new because I’m forever worrying on how they will react to my stammer, what they will say to me when they cant understand. There was a time when I couldn’t say certain words and yet now I feel I’ve re-learnt them but I’m still too scared to talk to someone new. I notice I rely on my friends and family to talk for me but I suppose at some point that has to stop as how will I ever improve my communication, in the back of my mind I’m always going to feel that I’m not quite who I use to be.
I’ve been told that I’m beautiful, caring person, I can make people laugh and I have a lot going for me, yet I feel that by being effected by this injury I’ve lost my job, family and certain friends. Should this define me? No it shouldn’t, It 100% shouldn’t define me.
I was always told that confidence is the most attractive part of a girl/women. I completely agree, i will work harder to rebuild who i am again and become more confident in myself. I just wish the knock backs i get and that people who might not realise that mimicking how i talk doesn’t hurt me could stop. To worry about how i am and to be too scared to talk or use my stick because i have days where i can barely walk is an added stress factor for me. i was always brought up where by poking fun at others was very wrong and yet the shell of who i am doesn’t fit the mould of someone with a walking stick or a stammer, yet it’s ok to poke fun at me because of that?
I would never wish for anyone to feel how i have felt in those particular moments, in time i will find the confidence i once had and I’m hoping in time i’ll be a better person for it.
The support I have off my friends is unbelievable, I’ve always known I’ve been lucky to have my friends around me, but I don’t think I truly understood how amazing they’ve been to me over the last 16 months. They literally pick me up when I’m at my lowest to a degree that I can only thank them for saving me when I need them the most.
They’ve given me the strength to push my boundaries and made me see that life is worth fighting for! They tell me that I’m their inspiration and that if anyone could face the battles I’ve been through and still come out looking and fighting as positively as I do, it would only be me.
I hear people tell me that I’m an inspiration but I never really thought of myself in that way. I do know that if I had to fight through what I have been through I am not sure I could to do it again.
I don’t think I would have the strength to go back through the battle that I’ve been faced with, the thought of even going back a step or to the beginning point makes me crumble inside. Although I am not sure if I had known what was coming I would have thought I could cope with it, its amazing what you can do when faced with adversity!
One day, one step
I take each day as it comes because it’s the only way I can get through anything, looking too far ahead or setting goals out of my comfort zone is setting me up for a fail. I’ve learnt that for me to be truly happy with the achievements I’ve made, I have to take baby steps in order to make them possible. When I hear my friends tell me how proud they are of me and that I don’t give myself enough credit, I honestly don’t know the person they are talking about. I don’t look at myself and feel I’ve achieved anything or that I’m doing well because I feel it’s the only way possible for me is just to keep going. I believe that if I have to go through this rough patch I’m hoping that somewhere in amongst it there will be the light at the end of the tunnel. I want to believe that this life lesson is to teach me and I can learn from it.
This is a battle that I didn’t choose for myself and it’s a battle that I would never wish upon anyone because it’s one of the hardest, most painful and life-changing experiences anyone will face.
Not many people will face a life lesson like I have in the short amount of time I’ve had but hopefully this lesson can help me teach others how to do the same.
I know I’m a loving, loyal and caring person and I give 110% if not more! I love my family and friends and I know that the people in my life that choose to stand by me, are the ones that will be with me in the journey to the end.
I can only thank them for standing by me and helping me become a better person, and in time I will do all I can to give that back.
Please HELP me raise money for a charity that gave me some hope again ..
All my love always