Finding a way back to the surface

Lauren lives in Northern Ireland and is slowly finding her way back to the surface following her brain injury.
You can follow her brain injury journey in her very original blog written through the eyes of a superhero and her sidekick Next Doors Cat!  Or follow her on twitter @BraingirlNdc

 . Please note: all opinions expressed in our blogs represent those of the author only. When you sustain a brain injury it throws everything into chaos instantly, it tears at your feeling of safety, it puts everything you thought you knew about the world on its head, it completely alters how you view everything, including yourself. Trying to explain this to people and even more so, trying to navigate through it, is challenging to say the least. It also changes the people around you too, loved ones who go through it with you, who saw you really sick and now don't really understand what happened to the person they once knew. Brain Injury is a massive lesson, a lesson that teaches you something new every single day. You don't know this at the outset of course so everything that happens initially is a huge scary surprise. There is a lot of shifting and shuffling to be done at first as you try to figure out what is going on and what you need to do right now. Loved ones also have to do this dance with you, you are learning to waltz together without really having an idea of the steps. As you can imagine, this is a highly frustrating and often demoralising experience. There are times when you just won't want to be around each other but will feel guilty for even thinking that. There are times when you just cry and cry and see no way out. There are times when you think you've got it all sorted out and something comes in from leftfield to throw you around again. You all want the same thing - to just get 'better' - you just don't know what 'better' actually looks like anymore. Brain injury is a long slow process, I'm not sure if 'recovery' is an apt word because I don't know what recovery is, is it being like you were before? Well that's not going to happen and this is difficult to understand initially. I think everyone who sustains a brain injury has a period of thinking they are the one who will recover 100%, the one who defies the odds. I know I did, I sometimes still do. But there is always that little something, that tweak inside you that means you won't go back. It could be physical, emotional or psychological, or all three! I'm not saying this is a bad thing, it can feel awful and hopeless at first, believe me I have struggled and suffered but there have been some truly astounding things to come out of what happened to me. You learn to adapt to the new thing, it's part of you now. Wishing for things to be different is futile, it only leads to more pain simply because, well, things aren't different. So I want to give a few tips and hope that something may resonate with you to help whether you have sustained the injury yourself or if it's someone close to you and you feel lost. Firstly, you can't substitute good medical care. A doctor that you can speak to who will help you understand what is happening is a golden ticket. Find one that will support your journey. This also applies to any healthcare professional be it a Psychologist, Occupational Therapist etc. Access all the help you can. Second, find support either as a carer or as a brain injury survivor, this could be in the form of Internet forums, support groups, other people who have been there. They will understand you more than anyone else and the relief of this is very uplifting. Those two tips are for outside help but if you want to know what you can do day to day, I would recommend reading lots. Knowledge is a very powerful thing, if you understand what you are facing it can be made easier. I read lots about grief and trauma, this was my particular battle and it helped to know what I was experiencing was part of the process. Most importantly, TALK to each other. If you're fed up let people know, if you want to cry, just cry! Holding things in builds up a nice little storage ready to burst out at another time. I can't stress the importance of feeling feelings. It's a bit scary at first because you think you'll never stop crying once you start, but you will, eventually, trust me. These are not foolproof ideas, they won't magically make the hurt go away in a short space of time, you have to practice them a lot and you have to have an infinite amount of patience. This change in your life HURTS a lot, there are many tears to fall, expect to feel angry, hopeless, lost and sad. There is lots of "why me?" "What have I done to deserve this?" These are perfectly understandable thoughts but there is never an answer to these questions so eventually you need to stop looking for them. Then one day, these things start to give way to moments of peace, hope and dare I say it? even joy. These small tips will enable you to process and most importantly ACCEPT your new life. Acceptance is a comfortable place to be, there's less resistance to things which ultimately makes the journey a little easier. I don't know where you are in the journey at this moment in time, you could be an old hand or you could have just woken up this morning to a new confusing life, wherever you are, remember you are never alone and over time things DO get easier.
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