My New Life: Post Brain Injury
It’s been 4 years since my accident, which resulted in my mild traumatic brain injury. And, like every significant milestone along my journey, I can’t help but reflect on everything that has happened since.
There’s been a lot of change in my life, but also a lot that has stayed the same. I’m still ‘me’ but I feel like I’m living a completely new life, if that makes sense? And I can’t help but go to that place sometimes where I think, “Am I happy in this ‘new life’ or do I wish I had my old life back?”.
Living with a Brain Injury in your Twenties
4 years is a long time for anyone, and in your mid-to-late twenties they are defining years in your life. You’re trying to build a career, find your life partner and discover what makes you happy. You’re no longer in a place in your life where you do what you do everyday because that’s ‘just the way it is’. You’ve entered into the stage of your life where you choose what you do when you get up every morning. You choose where you live, what industry you work in, how you want to spend your free time and who you spend your free time with. And you have the freedom to change your mind on it all if you so choose.
And so I am often asked ‘Do you feel like you’ve missed out?’
The honest answer, despite losing complete control of my life for the first few years of my brain injury, is NO. Not one little bit. I’m 28 and I’m so thrilled to be able to say that I love my life.
Have I been left behind because of my Brain Injury?
In the last 4 years many of my friends have spent time travelling, lived (live) abroad, moved jobs if they weren’t happy and climbed the corporate ladders when they were. They’ve started new relationships, tried many new things and have spent the last 4 years becoming the people they are today. Of my closest friends one has lived in China for 4 years and is now living in London. Two have kids. One has just bought a house with her partner. Two are living in Australia with no intentions of coming home any time soon. One has spent 6 years building a successful career and is about to set off travelling around the world. And one is about to get married!
And as a result, I sometimes think…. “And here I am. Right where I was 4 years ago, still living in Dublin. Still working in marketing. Still ‘here’.” And I can’t help but wonder would that be the case had I not had my accident. Have I missed out? Have I been left behind by life? Was I held back because of my brain injury? Or did I hold myself back?
And then I think about my life again….
Do I like my New [Brain Injury] Life?
In the last 4 years I have managed to build a life that has made me happier than I have ever been.
- I’ve found a career that I am passionate about and a job that I love. There is not one day that I wake up and dread going to work. How many people can say that?
- I’ve found a lifestyle that makes me feel so good about myself. I’ve always loved being fit and healthy and now I feel fitter and healthier (despite my brain injury) than I have ever felt. I enjoy training. I enjoy cooking and eating healthy food. And I love the sense of accomplishment I feel when I meet and exceed my training goals.
- I’ve been lucky enough to have people around me over the last 4 years, who have stuck by me through all of my ups and downs – some new and some old, but all the best of friends.
- I’ve found the love of my life. I’ve found Noel. I met him the day that I was diagnosed with my mild traumatic brain injury and he’s been there with me every step of the way. He’s seen me at my very worst and at my very best. And he’s still here, loving me, supporting me and putting up with me! People often say that everything happens for a reason and when I think of my reason, I think that maybe he’s my reason? Corny I know, but had I not had my accident we may never have met.
- And finally, I’ve overcome my brain injury, now controlling it as opposed to letting it control me. And not only have I learned to manage it for myself, I’ve also set up this resource that is hopefully helping many others who are on their journey to recovery.
I Love my New (Brain Injury) Life!
I’m living in a city I love, working a job that I love, surrounded by people I love. I feel fitter and healthier than ever (again, despite my brain injury).
I’m in a relationship with my best friend, who I may never have met had it not been for my TBI.
I’ve set up a resource to help others and raise awareness around brain injuries.
And I definitely appreciate live more than ever.
So the more I think about it all, the more I realise that I don’t actually want my old life back at all. I’ve adapted and made this ‘new’ life mine. And I couldn’t be happier!