People (including my therapists) will often say things like, “You are so strong.”
I never quite know how to respond or take statements like that in.
“To survive everything you’ve gone through, you must have so much determination.”
“You are doing great things.”
…You get the point.
None of it feels true. And part of me knows that to a certain extent, those statements must hold some truth. But it’s incredibly difficult to agree or see what is being said to me.
“You’re only 29 and have gone through so much. And look how well you’re doing!”
Am I? Really…
“You’ve only been married a couple of years and you both have triumphed over so many obstacles and heartaches!”
Have we? Have we really and truly triumphed…
It’s interesting hearing what the outside sees. It sure as hell is not what I see and it’s far from what I feel.
But then there are also people that are on the flip-side. Their viewpoint is complete opposite of what’s listed above. And then that makes me think, “Damn. I must be a complete shit-show. How am I even functioning? This must be way worse than it feels.”
My truth may be vastly different than how people perceive me as well as the situations myself and my husband have been through… But it’s still my truth.
I am weak. I am incabable. I am worthless. I feel no hope. I have nothing to offer.
I do have daily affirmations.
- Hope can’t wait.
- I can. I must. I will.
- Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile.
But the words in bold most always win. Why?
I think I may know… There are a lot of unknowns in my “journey to recovery.” There are a lot of unknowns within the diagnosis of a Traumatic Brain Injury.
There must be more to it. Why do the bold words win? Why can I never answer the question, “What is something you’re good at or love about yourself?” when asked by doctors and therapists? I have never been able to answer their question.
I’m most definitely mourning the “Theresa” I used to be. Before the accident. Before the infertility. I’m unrocognizable. Physically and emotionally.
I miss her.
I work my hardest to bring her back. I work so hard and I only ever catch a rare glimpse. She is so far from reach. She is unobtainable. I miss her. Does Allen miss her as much as I do?
So no… I am not strong. I am not powerful. I am not kicking ass and I certainly am not doing great things. The old Theresa would be doing a hell of a lot better at life and in her career than I currently am. I’m treading water. #allthewater
You see one thing. I see another. Which is the truth? Who’s perspective is skewed?
“You shouldn’t compare. That was then and this is now.”
Well yeah, that’s the problem! I’ve been living in a special kind of hell since that semi hit me. How does a person not compare? It’s completely unrealistic to ask someone in recovery to “look past that.” I can work through it, but I can’t just erase who I was and who I was becoming as a woman.
My deficits haunt me. And you don’t see them. You’re not in my real day-to-day life. It’s terrible and it would terrify you.
“But you’re doing so well in your recovery. It can’t be that bad.”
The hard truth – It is. It’s really bad.
When your speech therapist says she’s “just not able to help you any further.” That’s bad.
When your neurologist says “The symptoms you’re experiencing now must be psychosomatic. We recommend therapy.” That’s bad.
When you get a third opinion from a neurologist and he spends less than two minutes in the room with you before saying, “I can’t help you. See a psychiatrist.” Thats bad.
Starts to make you feel like you must be going insane. You’re experiencing so many deficits and what… No answers.
I am in therapy. I am on anti-depressants.
So… Is there no answer? Because I’m already doing the things you say must be the right thing for me.
“Why does my right side and moreso my right leg still go numb?”
“It’s because you’ve gained too much weight. I will prescribe you an appetite suppressant.”
Wait, what? That’s your honest and true and thought out medical opinion of my neurological state? It has nothing to do with the severe nerve damage on the right side of my body? It’s because I’ve gained weight and am “too heavy” now? You’re my neurologist.
I could probably write a separate and complete book on the absurd appointments that I’ve had with neurologists. I have to be my own advocate. And I have to advocate hard.
But I did hit rock bottom. Or I think it was. I hope it was my rock bottom.
There was a Friday I was home alone because I was doing better in my recovery and could be alone for short periods of time.
- I tried to read a book my psychologist recommended. I opened it and could not read a single word. Everything was swirling wildly from right to left. I could not read. I’m 29 and I did not know how to read.
- Okay… I’ll shut the book and try to do something else. How about pampering? I got out my hairbrush to work out the tangles before taking a bath. I did not know how to use it. I’m 29 and I did not know how to brush my own hair.
- I feel myself starting to slow down. The world starts to become a little fuzzy and everything is in slow motion. I need to get outside for some fresh air. Let me get my shoes on and just walk around. I did not know how to tie my shoes. I’m 29 and I could not tie my own laces.
- This is getting bad. Maybe my blood sugar is low. I should eat something. I go to the fridge and I don’t know what to do. I see a handle but how do I open it? I’m 29 and I did not know how to feed or fend for myself.
- Shit. Shit. Shit. I’ll take my meds.
And that’s when I overdosed and ended up in the hospital for over a week in the “psych ward.”
And guess what. It’s the best thing that could have ever happened to me.
I don’t truly know if I was trying to commit suicide or if I was trying to take medication to help my state of mind. I’m not sure it really matters anymore. I only know what my friend has told me… and what she has said I told her on the phone. I called her after overdosing. I “was done.” And Lord, I mean… That so has some truth to it. Would you not be totally over all of this crap?
I gained access to so many resources and learned so much more about my TBI and PTSD that week in the “psych ward” than I have in the entire two and a half years of recovery.
That. Is. Sad.
Guess what else… It’s not psychosomatic. I’m not crazy. I have a mother f-ing brain injury that is still trying to heal. I don’t have any personality disorders… I suffer from a very real and scary Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Answers! Good god I have been yearning for answers! And help… real help. Solid resources.
So now that’s what I do. I go to a million different types of therapies. Hours and hours and hours every week. Therapies with doctors and people who are actually helping me and awknowledge the very real deficits that present in my life.
“But I will learn to breathe this ugliness you see, so we can both be there and we can both share the dark. And in our honesty, together we will rise, out of our nightminds and into the light at the end of the fight.” —Missy Higgins
I’ll be strong someday. Maybe soon. Maybe not. I’ll eventually see the strength that others see. Someday I’ll be able to awknowledge it.
For now I’m coping… And that’s enough.
Mahal, Mrs. Cruz