It’s been two years almost to the day since I slipped and fell. A beautiful spring day hiking in the Muskokas ended with a moderate TBI. It was such a simple little accident but getting through the aftermath has been….not simple at all.
I suck at setting limits. I always have. It is not that I am an endless self sacrificer. I don’t ignore my own needs in favor of others. I just don’t see my limits until I get smacked in the face with them. I feel most happy when I am busy. I feel a sense of purpose when I am working to solve a problem. So naturally I gravitate to helping others but I would set my limits and hold my pace. If I could just develop the skills to do so!
It has been 2 years and still I forget to adjust plans to accomodate for over stimulation and fatigue. I continue to be suprised at how scattered and dysfunctional I can become. I will be standing in the middle of a children’s birthday party and suddenly think “man, I feel anxious and dizzy, I guess I should have expected this to be a lot”.
I feel tired most of the time and need daily naps. When my occupational therapist ask me to describe a typical day she told me I do too much. If I need naps then I am tiring myself out and should adjust my routine to do less. I was shocked. I could see she was right, but I already felt that I was doing so little!
Finding balance is hard. I want to be social and fun. I want to be a part of what is happening with my family, friends and community. I want to produce. I want to feel a sense of contribution. I also have to relealise I will get run down when I push too hard, stay too long or fail to rest. For some reason I just can’t get that to sink in.
Sometimes things can get really out of hand. I get so tired that I don’t speak well. I can not make decisions, or even follow a simple story. People will ask me why I didn’t ask for help or take a break. I can only be honest and say I didn’t think to. I didn’t see it coming until I felt my head tighten and my mind shut down. It is a little embarrassing to admit to such a lack of insight, there you have it. I suck. Lol
This weekend we had a large family event. After 2 hours spent meeting new people,mingling in a crowded room and conversing mainly in french I suddenly felt sick. My head felt as if it was being squeezed from both sides. Not pain…just pressure. I felt confussed and hopelessly tired, almost like I had been sedated.
“Of course!”I thought to myself.
Of course I felt this way. Why had I not considered this? I should have realised I would need breaks. Or at least that this would be a tough event. It honestly had not even crossed my mind until the moment I felt myself hit by the wave of fatigue.
I snuck off to the little room where the kids were playing quietly. I sat on the floor, leaned my cheek against the wall and closed my eyes. Cool, soothing, calm.
A few moments later my husband came searching for me. He had suddenly realized it too. “Oh my god babe,you must be exhausted.” He was concerned and feeling badly for not thinking of a back up plan either.
Driving home we were discussing and trying to figure out how it is possible that this keeps happening. We came to the conclusion that we are really both still in denial. I don’t think of myself as a person with limitations. He does not see his wife as a person who needs special support. So we both kind of drop the ball on planning sometimes.
I feel I have moved through many stages of grief in this experience. I have worked through changing career prospects and missed opportunities. I have adapted to being that lady with the crazy health history. I tell people my last few years have been like wack-a-mole. (But I am stubborn as f#$k and playing to win.) I have come to terms with the fact that the adventure sports I used to approach with aggression and confidence now require great caution. I have been able to deal with most of this well. Mostly because I see it all as temporary.
The attitude of standing back up is a strength. I see myself as strong and resilient. I believe I will get back to where I was and where I want to be. It is also a problem. Because in NOT recognizing my current limits I continue to self sabotage. This brain needs rest. It needs quiet and meditation. The current Kate needs more sleep and shorter days. Brain breaks and lots of excercise. If I want to build myself back up I need to stop knocking myself down. THAT will only come when I learn to see myself accurately. THAT is Hard.
Denial is not a choice. It is a psychological wall. It is the self standing in front of a mirror refusing to see what has changed. Our minds and emotions are so complex it is impossible to determine all the how’s and why’s. We have to work hard to over come denial. We have to be humble and brave. Acceptance brings more change. It brings a shift in identity, the surrender of control and a sense of further loss. Yet acceptance also delivers us to the door step of deeper healing. Acceptance allows us to move through the door, while denial has us peeking in windows but never actually getting there.
I have work to do.
Not the work of more, but the work of less. Less pressing and forcing and figuring out. More rest, more reflection, more acceptance more growth, more recovery.
It is time to ding ,dong, ditch denial and ask acceptance to let me through the door.
And You?? What about you? Will I see you on the other side?