I have been sitting here for two hours trying to write up a couple short articles. It is something that normally wouldn’t take me any time at all, but this time is becoming impossible. Since my accident and head injury I have lost the ability to filter things out. I can’t make my brain stop. I can’t focus on what I want or need to focus on because my brain is responding to every stimulus around me. It’s like having ADD, but to the extreme, and then when you mix that with the poor memory skills or the mixing up of words it’s even worse. Try to imagine a drunken elderly person with the beginnings of Alzheimer, and severe ADD. That’s kind of what it is like inside my head. So as I was sitting here trying to get it to stop, so I can write, I shot a message to a friend. I expressed my frustration with the inability to write because of all that’s going on inside my head. I sent them a message saying “Here is my brain right now "respond to artist on twitter, pick up crafts, shut up fish tank, wait what's that noise, I should be writing, wait what's that noise, what are we doing at scouts tomorrow, I want coffee, shut up stupid fish tank, respond to twitter, damn that light is bright, wait what's that noise...." repeat.” Then it occurred to me. Maybe I shouldn’t fight it. Maybe this is the perfect opportunity to explain exactly what life inside my head is like since my accident. Although it is something that is challenging for me to discuss, and it’s hard for others to understand I want to take this opportunity to attempt to give you a look inside my head.
Since my car accident my life has been flipped upside down. (Now the Fresh Prince song is rolling through my head “Now, this is a story all about how my life got flipped-turned upside down…”) You absolutely wouldn’t know anything is different from looking at me, and although that is a blessing, sometimes it is also an obstacle. It is hard for people to remember or understand that things are different, even if I look the same. You might notice that I always have sunglasses on outside, and sometimes inside. You might notice that I rarely have the lights on in my house and if I do they are on low. You might notice that I do everything possible to not bend over or drive after dark, but in all likelihood you probably won’t notice much of anything.
Once you start talking with me things will become more apparent, but even then it’s hard to understand. You will notice on occasion I mix up words. You will notice that I repeat myself multiple times, or that I have absolutely no idea what you told me the day before. It is entirely likely that although I may remember doing something with you I won’t know when it was. It’s possible that you will notice I write notes to myself and leave them all over. From where I am sitting right now I can see one note in my knitting (so I know what row to do next), two on the door, and several on the fridge. That’s not including the reminders set in my phone, or the fact that absolutely everything I need to take to work tomorrow is sitting underneath my keys so I don’t forget. Even then you can likely just brush it off, after all everyone forgets things right? We all walk into rooms and have absolutely no idea why we are there. It isn’t until you spend a significant amount of time with me that you notice the issues. Once you hear me tell the same story repeatedly over a couple days, when you see me sitting and crying because although I have knit 100 rows of stitches in the last few days I now can no longer remember how to do a purl stitch. You will notice when you see me get lost going somewhere I have gone hundreds of times. It’s when you are out with me after dark and you find out just how much the light bothers me. It’s when you see the pain across my face because of a loud noise in the room, or when you see me grab hold of something because I have completely lost my balance from bending over. Maybe it’s when you are sitting in a room with me and watching my eyes dart around because of all the activity, or when I respond to something someone else said instead of what you said because I have no way of filtering out all the other conversations in the room. Or it might be when you notice the bruises on me from times I have lost my balance and fallen, or ran into something because I was dizzy and my depth perception was off. Those are the times you will see what it’s like, but even in those moments it’s hard to understand. Hell I am going through it and I don’t understand it, so it is completely impossible for someone not going through it to grasp what’s happening.
It’s hard when I am invited to do something and although I want to so bad I know it’s something I can’t handle. It’s hard when I am disappointing people by not going. It’s hard knowing they don’t understand when they say if you change your mind please let me know. It’s hard when I have to wear sunglasses and earplugs to watch fireworks, or when I am told I will probably never again enjoy carnival rides. It’s hard, but I make accommodations and I move forward with my life. I do other things that bring me joy. I find other things to help me relax, but most of all, like the song says, “I breathe in, and breathe out, put one foot in front of the other, take a day at a time….”(Chris Cagle I Breathe In, I Breathe Out) and I don’t give up hope. I can’t. I have to have hope that it will get better. There will be times when I can sit and write without being completely aware of every sound and every light around me. I have to believe that I will be able to go on my favorite rides, and enjoy my favorite holidays. I have to have hope… and I do.
*** For those of you who wonder about how these blogs come out with minimal mistakes, while all this is happening. I write them and then read them multiple times to try and catch errors or mixed up words. Then I read them out loud. Then I let someone else look at them, and even still sometimes it makes it through with errors, but we try.***