My TBI Reality

Usually when I’m writing these posts my brain is having a good day. You wouldn’t even realised I had a brain injury. I’m in a really good place physically, mentally and emotionally. But today, I’m not…

Today I’m just after having 2 really, really difficult days. Today I’m writing this and I’m close to tears. I’m feeling all of the symptoms of my brain injury. My head hurts, I’m tired and I feel generally unwell. And whilst I’m not sad, I’m not happy either. I think I feel defeated? And that terrifies me!

I’m scared. I’m on edge. I’m nervous. I’m anxious.

What led to this?

There’s never just one thing that leads to me feeling like this. There are usually a number of events that lead to it. Events that, if they occurred on their own, may seem completely insignificant. But when they all happen together, they can lead to one moment that can ‘set me off’ with an Episode that can cause a significant set back to my TBI recovery.

A ‘trigger’ moment I guess.

The 'Insignificant' Events

  1. I had a busy week at work.
  2. I had 3 mid-week ‘social’ events. These were meeting a friend for lunch, meeting a friend for coffee after work and going to my brothers house another evening after work.
  3. I went home to Baltimore for the bank holiday weekend. It was a long trip, in a hot car.
  4. I went to a 2 year olds birthday party on Saturday. Needless to say there was a lot of noise with children running around. Plus I was catching up with lots of friends, which required quite a lot of concentration on my part to keep up with everything. I also drank about 4 cups of CAFFINATED tea with cake and sweets!
  5. I went for dinner with my parents and Noel Saturday evening. It was a small, busy restaurant with quite a lot of noise. The coffee machine was quite close to the table, as was the cutlery storage (God I hate the noise of cutlery!!!).
  6. I ate an Easter egg Saturday night after dinner (yup – a whole Easter Egg to myself!).
  7. On Sunday, Noel and I were driving to Cork to meet the girls for an Ed Sheeran concert. There was a really bad accident so we had to follow a diversion on a really bad, bumpy, narrow road.
  8. Noel and I left home without having lunch. We had said we’d get something on the way to Cork. However, with the diversion delaying us we said we’d just keep driving and get something when we arrived.

When you list them like that I guess there was quite a few things going on that I wouldn’t be used to…. But at the time it didn’t feel like that. They all seemed like normal activities that anyone should be able to do without thinking twice!

The Trigger

I had made plans to meet the girls before the concert and we’d all go in together at 6.30. I had 6 of our tickets so I would give them the tickets then.

As my brother Colm, and his wife Linda, have just moved to Cork we were going to spend the night at their house. So the plan was to drop the car off at their house before we went to the concert.

However, just as we got to Cork I got a message that instantly made panic rise up through my body. My head started to pound, my heart to race and my body shake.

The plan had changed. We were now meeting at 5 o’clock because the rest of the girls wanted to get into the pit.

It seems like a simple change. And most people wouldn’t even bat an eyelid. But to someone like me this wasn’t just a simple change of plan. Instantly my head went into over drive…

“Even if we get to Colm’s house in the next 10 minutes and go straight to meet them we still won’t make it on time. Hopefully traffic is light. If I don’t make it on time it means that they won’t get what they want because I have their tickets. Maybe I could rush in with them? I don’t want to let them down. I still haven’t had food! Maybe we’ll make it on time and I can get food in there?

But then I’ll be in the pit too? My head can’t handle being that close to the speakers? It’s an Ed Sheeran concert so it’s not like it will be the typical ‘crazy mosh pit’. In reality I’ll just be closer to the stage and probably have more space. But I’ll be closer to the speakers. Plus it means I’ll be around loud music for not just one act but for five or six! I can’t handle any of this! What if something happens?

But I have to get the girls their tickets. Why don’t they realise that this decision is having this affect on me? Do they not know I can’t handle this type of last minute change? Going to an event like this is a really big deal for me. I need to follow my plan if it’s to work out well for me. Why would they change the plan?”

By the time I calmed down I was wrecked and in no fit state to go to a concert. So Noel and Colm drove to meet the girls and gave them their tickets. And I went for a nap. We still had 4 hours before Ed was due on stage so hopefully I’d wake up feeling refreshed and ready to go.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. I had to skip the concert. I could have risked going. But I knew if I did it would mean a minimum of a week’s recovery. Which would mean no work. And to be honest, I will do anything I can to avoid weeks like that. So I stayed at home.

Recovery Mode

Normally when ‘Episodes’ like this occur I go straight into ‘recovery mode’ but this time was different. I felt defeated. What is the point in being strict with my routine and recovery all of the time when episodes like this still occur? So, instead of having a healthy and nutritious meal – I had a burger and chips. Instead of having a healthy snack with lots of nutrients I ate ice cream and chocolate. I even had a glass of wine! Which for those of you who know me is VERY unlike me. Even when I’m having good days I don’t drink!

Regardless, I had hoped to wake up the next morning and feel much better. And for a while I did. But by the afternoon my head was pounding again and I felt tired and upset. It’s the following day now and I’m still not ‘back to myself’. I’m tired. My head hurts. I’m sad, or am I? Maybe I’m annoyed?

I’m not annoyed because I missed the concert. But I think I’m annoyed because I had a set back. I’m annoyed because I’ve had to cancel my ‘social’ plans this week to make sure I make it through the 4 days of work ahead. I’m really annoyed at myself for not do everything I could to feel better sooner.

Recovering

But even as I write this I’m beginning to pick myself up a bit. Sometimes just letting it all out on a piece of paper is enough to help you feel better. Or, in my case, give me a bit of a reminder to practice what I preach! I realised by just writing all of this down that the only way to get over all of this is to go back to basics. I’ve over come far worse than this little set back so I’m not going to let this defeat me either.

Wow, it’s amazing what writing your feelings down on a piece of paper can do for your mental health! I genuinely feel so much better from just letting all of this out!

So what am I going to do now?

  1. I’m going to put it behind me. What’s happened has happened, there’s nothing I can do about it now.
  2. I’m going make sure I get lots of rest and lots of sleep all week.
  3. I’m going to eat lots of good, healthy nutritious foods and drink lots of water!
  4. I’m going to make sure I get fresh air and exercise every day.
  5. I’m going to take some time to practice mindfulness every evening. Even 10 minutes before bed is better than nothing.
  6. I’m going to book in a Reiki treatment for the weekend.

If anyone else has any other tips for me please feel free to send them to me! The more suggestions the merrier!