A year ago my brain was destroyed… Okay well maybe it wasn’t completely destroyed but there are days it sure does feel like it. Over the last few weeks, I have been processing more on the emotional impact this has taken me. When most people ask me about my emotions they are surprised to find out I am in the stage of limbo. This is because since day one they have been heartbroken and devastated for me. However, that is a privilege they possess that I do not. They have the privilege to reflect on and grasp the enormity of my situation. They have been given the chance to not only let go and breathe. While I and those walking alongside me have been under a constant assault. Since last April our lives have been moving faster than a bullet train. We are more than overwhelmed. Each time I think we will get the chance to try to jump we wind up missing the platform. We are now forced to start over again. Otherwise described as the never-ending train of setbacks.
From Traumatic Brain Injury Support Group on Facebook
A few weeks ago, I was talking with one of those people who are walking alongside me. It was brought up about how the one year anniversary is rapidly approaching. So what should we do about it is the question? Celebrating the unimaginable does not seem like an appropriate response. And with our current social distancing climate that is even more inappropriate. Although, some cake would be nice... But in all seriousness, this day can’t go unrecognized. I have endured far too much pain for the day to be swept under the rug, so for my own sake, I need to acknowledge how hard I have fought. Others try to acknowledge this by telling me how incredible I am for making it through the last year. However, I don’t always believe them; all I see is the number of times I have cried, the number of times I have wound up unconscious somewhere, the number of times I do not remember events in my day, the number of times I have not been able to do a task that was once so easy for me, and the number of times I have felt like a failure.
No matter how much I plead, I will never be who I was before. And I know all too well who I was and what I did the day before the “day that changed it all.” It was the final day of my spring break, junior year of college, a Sunday. It was my best friend’s last day in town before she headed home. We went to Carowinds the day before and did not get home till late so we slept in skipping church, my mom took us both to get donuts, then took a trip to target. We had a final hurrah before she left at the local pizza shop where we ordered Mac and Cheese pizza. Hannah left and that was it. It was just me and my mom until she left for work the next day and I went back to my first day of classes. On Monday I went back to make it through the entire day without a single worry. I did not feel off at all during that day. The last thing I have a true memory of is sitting down at home to do homework.
Then in a matter of hours, my entire world was altered. Since then I have been left feeling trapped by this situation. I feel trapped by these experiences in which I cannot control because my brain is broken. My brain is learning how to work again. This is not something I will ever escape from pretending it never happened. Healing from a brain injury will be a life long healing process. Recovery has no end; it won’t turn out like a cookie cutter Hallmark movie. And even if it did that does not make the process to get to a state of recovery any easier. Brain injury recovery is hard and it is certainly not without suffering.
The last year has changed so much about who I am and what I intend to do in the future. Despite all this I know: I am still hurting. I am still struggling. But I am still alive. I am still here. And that is the real privilege.