?My Beautiful Souls,
When I first dealt with brain overload, I had no idea what it was. My brain literally did a humpty dumpty move and fell from its pillars into darkness. I had blacked out from my brain shutting down. It was over loaded with too much stimuli for it to deal with on its own. My faculties were so foggy most of the time I could hardly translate what my brain was processing when it was working. The first time it happened to me I was on the couch in my living room with a friend. It was 6pm. The next thing I knew, I had awoken and the lights were still on in my town home. But, it was dark outside. I had fallen asleep on the couch with my clothes on and couldn’t remember if it was night or early morning, since it was winter hours. I tried to think hard about what I had done earlier that day, but my “stupid” head gave me no inclination, as if my head was empty of memories. How long had I been sleeping, I pondered. Why were all the lights on in the house? Did I eat dinner or breakfast or anything? Had I fed the dog or let her out to do her business? I couldn’t remember anything. I was dumbstruck by this lack of memory. I felt so lost and confused. Where had time gone and what had happened to me?
I noticed the meal for dinner was still on the table and dishes were in the sink from its preparation done earlier. I looked at the clock and it was 3am. I just sat there in my stupor and desperately tried to regain some sort of consciousness. But, I couldn’t. I stumbled upstairs to the bedroom and fell onto the bed. I knew I had to get up in three hours for work. I wondered if they would remember what clothes I had worn that day. I was too tired to change into new attire in the few hours I had left when I had to awaken. My head was fast asleep before it hit the pillow. The deep slumber was the only form of healing that made sense to me at that time. It was not surprising the fatigue in my head had become a dominating force, so much that it consumed me and left me incapacitated on weekends and evenings after work. Inasmuch, my reality was deteriorating before my eyes and I didn’t know how to stop it. Panic was my saving grace and it shook my entire body when I realized I had no control over my brain anymore. What was happening to me….? I was becoming someone I didn’t know and didn’t like. Insanity was closer than I thought possible.
Looking back, earlier that afternoon, I had tried to conduct my usual spinning routine after work, even though pain had radiated down my spine, arm, neck, and in my head severely. I was getting used to the electric shocks that filled my brain, and the spasms that would come and go in rhythm as I tried with dismay to enjoy some type of exercise. I could barely keep my eyes open during the spin with music blaring in my ears. By the time the class was over, I was over. My head throbbed so badly, all I wanted to do was crash and burn. Food, even though dinner time, was not something I looked forward to, as the pain throughout my body made me nauseous and dizzy. All I could think of was to gather my things and race home to lie down. My puppy was there and needed care as well, so I left immediately upon regaining my balance from dislodging myself from the bike. I did recall leaving with a friend of mine to have dinner with me at my home, yet, I’m still not sure if we did. How disturbing was that? I fought with my brain cells to scrape at the “easy” button in my mind for any recollection. Nothing was there but air.
It didn’t take a brain surgeon to know how jumbled I was after work and exercising. I had begun to stutter during my conversations at work, as my language had become fraught with negligence in word finding and grammar. When my faculties were tired, I was unable to cope with stress, noise, lights, outside stimuli, restaurants, shopping malls, etc. I had lost the filters in my head that most people take for granted that negate most of the sound that penetrates outside those filters in the brain. For me, without filters, it’s as if I could hear the world’s bantering coming through a microphone, and it pierced my brain to where I couldn’t quite make sense of it all at the same time. And, because of it, I think I had lost some of my hearing that used to be so benevolent to me when sensing noises, hearing music, or distinguishing other people’s voice dynamics when speaking to me. I felt so bewildered when this happened. Those who spoke to me from behind or to the side of me, I had no conscience knowledge they were even speaking in my direction, for my brain had stopped the capacity for me to “hear” individuals trying to make contact through voice intonation, and thus I ignored them. Upon realizing this later, I had to request my friends to speak in front of me if they wished to share in conversation due to my latest brain pathology. It was so embarrassing for me, having held such a high intellect just months before. Yet, even now, not having the same speech capacity for interjecting succinct words or hearing as meticulously as I once did, my self-confidence and self-esteem had dwindled to an all-time low, which even I was incapable of describing.
The severe car accident was a major turning point in my controlled reality, called life. I didn’t know then my existence was to be turned upside down into a nightmare of memory loss, severe migraines, incapable of word finding, communication, comprehension, executive cognitive skills, people recognition, and filters to shut out noise and stimuli that was everywhere. My faculties became victim to enhanced fatigue, brain overload, the inability to process cognitive messages, to focus, constant ringing in my ears, and the inability to control emotional outbursts. What I didn’t realize at the time was we had the most sophisticated system of neurons, synapses, and brain cells that could become temporarily dysfunctional due to a traumatic brain injury (TBI). This could occur by an external force, violent blow or jolt to the head. If the brain had bleeding, or the skull was penetrated by an object, and swelling appeared, this could also lead to a more severe traumatic brain injury. You just don’t know what you don’t know. And I didn’t know anything about a TBI.
I knew our brains could perform multi-task functions like a computer, yet I realized it was more sophisticated, more complex, and more mysterious than any computer system ever built in the world. But since my research had not been in neuroscience, I never anticipated this magnificent comprehensive computer could actually be hacked! A severe car accident one year later proved me wrong. I knew nothing about my brain, except it worked. It controlled every aspect of my life, and I took it for granted every day. Everything from breathing, thinking, communicating, storing memories, compartmentalizing, strategizing, streamlining, creativity, critical thinking, concepts….hormones, emotions, thought patterns, writing, verbalizing. You name it; the brain magically conducted its symphony with zero percent error! And no viruses interfered, unless it got attacked by a new manifested viral infection that medical researchers were unable to offer medical treatment for.
I guess it never occurred to me since my brain was so amazing all on its own. I did realize, however, during college and while working, I had the ability to memorize pages I had studied and find them in my head word for word, as if they were documents I were reading in my hand. I was great with numbers as well and could hold them in memory while someone interrupted my thoughts with other conversations, and still write them down perfectly, as if I had just been given them. I don’t really know if I had a photographic memory, but it seemed I was extremely talented in recalling places, events, written messages, etc. if I observed them carefully enough. I would always know when something was out of place in the home or if someone had been there without my permission. I do know the mind is a powerful machine we take for granted and can be taken away within the blink of an eye. It is the most incredible organ we have and its thoughts literally create the reality we choose to believe. However, this reality I had not chosen. Since the accident, I had become a changed woman. My brain was no longer under my control. I wasn’t sure how much battery it would give me each day when I awoke to complete the necessary work those with “normal” brains were used to functioning with, since I only had half the battery they did. Even so, I continued to be sucked down the rabbit hole into the dark vortex of hopelessness…I just hoped there was a staircase to land on when I did let go.
It has now been thirteen years later since my first brain injury. I am convinced I survived and now thrive to assist others in overcoming their confusion, bewilderment, and loss of self when fighting a battle of head trauma and PTSD. The journey of isolation that I endured was a tragedy with which I hope no one feels they must do alone. My desire for those that have endured trauma and abuse is to bring you a sense of peace, in knowing you can choose to overcome the darkness with a light of joy. And, there is a staircase to land on if, and when you fall. I know, because I did several times. 🙂
The brain over loads I experienced during my TBI journey are still a challenge for me due to the various tasks, hobbies, and commitments I wish to complete on a daily basis. It is a mystery in knowing the logic behind how the brain processes the multifaceted functions we acquire daily and the systemic platform it creates in doing so with the energy to make it a reality. The brain fatigue I experience is compounded by exercise, computer work, and driving. Focus and concentration on writing is difficult for me because of the energy it requires, yet it also brings me much joy and accomplishment. I have learned over the years to be gentle on myself, and when I am unable to perform at a peak level, I must give myself permission to rest and recharge my battery. In doing so, I am giving myself the care, worthiness, and self love that I so deserve. As do you, my tribal members. We must be caretakers of ourselves in order to be complete, holistic and healthy to be with others. In this healing process, you will find, you cannot complete someone else. Only you can change YOU! And, perfection is not the goal. Becoming the perfect you is.
We must always listen to our body’s needs, because it will benefit us greatly in the end. When you self-reflect and listen to your body, mind, spirit, and emotional state of being, you will learn to “hear” what type of renewal or recharge it is yearning for. It is critical to explore ways of letting go of too many commitments, so you can be “present” to those who are most important to you. Life is short and time waits for no one. Be the best of you, and in doing so, you can give the best of you!
?In Light and Love,