“You look like you’re okay.”
“You’re probably just stressed out.”
“Wow. But you look totally normal.”
“I had a concussion once.”
“At least you’re not dead.”
“Why do you still talk about this so much?”
“You really shouldn’t be posting that on social media.”
“Are you sure you’re not bipolar?”
“I can help you lose weight.”
“You were so pretty.”
“Some things need to stay private.”
“No one wants to hear about it.”
“Why do you post pictures when you’re in the hospital?”
“Oh, it’s just a migraine…”
“You need to focus more on your work.”
“You need to focus more on your recovery.”
“You’re doing too much.”
“You really should get help finding a balance.”
“You don’t still have a TBI, do you?”
“I saw you walk without your cane… Sooo… Why don’t you just stop using it?”
“I really doubt it’s PTSD. You’ve never served in the military.”
STOP. All of these things and more have been said in one form or another to me during the last two and a half years. Most have good intentions behind them — Some are fueled by frustration — Some are just completely off-base.
Post-Accident – Diagnosed with:
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Nerve Damage
- Torn Rotator Cuff
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Major Depressive Disorder
- Sensory Processing Disorder
- Sequencing Disorder
- Left Lung Damage
- PNES Seizures
- Blurred Vision and Right Peripheral Vision Impairment
- Wheelchair to Walker to Loftstrand Crutches to Cane
- …Much more
Pre-Accident – Diagnosed with:
- Stage IV Endometriosis
- Interstitial Cystitis
- Ovarian Cysts
- Failed IUIs
- Failed IVF
It was only a couple of months after our IVF when I was hit by a semi. Three embryos. We lost them all. A couple of months is not nearly enough time to process and grieve that loss.
We were using donor sperm because of Allen’s condition and sterility. We also found out I have the egg quality of that of a woman going through menopause. We were 25 years old. We were newlyweds and eager to become mom and dad.
We both celebrated our birthdays that July.
26 years old — New age. New beginnings?
October. The accident.
Now an instant layer of grief has been added. Another layer of pain – Emotional – Physical.
I grieve the life and the opportunities and the hope I had before. I am a changed woman. I’m 29 now — My life halted and rerouted in ways I would have never imagined. Our hope of starting a family has been squandered. Between my health problems making infertility treatments risky and my TBI disqualifying us from adoption, we don’t think we will ever have children. Grief.
“You’re young. You’ll bounce back.”
If only blanket statements were as bold and effective as they are easy to say.
“Be happy you’re alive.”
I am happy I’m alive. I’m grateful. But I am also grieving the woman I was prior to the accident. Strong, witty, fit, fun, a dancer, a dance teacher, independent, intelligent, sassy, career driven, lover, friend… Two and a half years may seem like a long time to still be grieving, but believe me when I say it feels like all of this life changing trauma was yesterday.
Y’all. I used to be fun!
My response to all that has been said is short and full of truth, “You will never understand.”
It’s true and I don’t expect anyone to ever fully understand what it is like to live with a TBI every day. It’s an incredibly lonely and crippling diagnosis.
…Even being surrounded by a small but loving support system. It’s a deep and dark and scary feeling of loneliness. Your closest loved ones will never truly know.
“Why don’t you go to a support group or something.”
Believe it or not, Traumatic Brain Injury support groups pop up and disappear just as fast as you’re given a referral… The resources just aren’t available.
I’m grieving a lot of different things at this point in my life and in my recovery. I don’t expect that to wash away soon or with ease and I don’t expect anyone to understand any longer.
Friends. It must be so hard being friends with someone who is chronically ill and always in need of something. There are givers and there are takers in this world. I am a taker and that is the most difficult type of person to maintain a friendship with. And I get it. But my situation is what it is and right now I have to live day by day and hour by hour. There is no timeline for my recovery. There is no timeline for processing my grief and depression.
It’s interesting… There were a flood of new and exciting friendships post-accident. The companionship was beautiful and helped in my healing. I am so grateful for that. As time has passed, that flood of friendships has slowly washed away – Along with it, some important friendships I thought would never cease to exist also washed away.
But I get it. Right now I can only focus on myself in my recovery and the very little amount of energy that is left is saved for my husband.
It’s hard to be friends with someone who is always sick and always needs something.
It’s another layer of grief and makes the loneliness a little more suffocating.
I’ve been seeing a psychologist who specializes in trauma for the last year… Maybe 18 months? She’s an incredible woman who is passionate about her work and is compassionate in all definitions of the word. She’s part of the reason I’ve reopened this blog.
“Write it all down. All of it.”
And I plan on it. I have always been an open book and have always utilized social media as a therapeutic outlet… Starting back in middle school on MySpace to later becoming a vlogger on YouTube in my early 20s to then meeting my husband on Twitter. I share. So here I am. Raw — I feel no shame in discussing my personal stories and struggles with the world.
Mahal, Mrs. Cruz
“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” -Mahatma Ghandi